December 9th, 2000Rockies Sign Mike Hampton
Now talk about your bad contracts, this one was just...wow. Now Hampton was coming off a couple of good years. In 1999 he'd won twenty-two games with a 2.90 ERA for the Astros and he'd helped lead the Mets to the World Series with a 3.14 regular season ERA and then was voted MVP of the League Championship Series after winning two games and throwing sixteen shutout innings. Desperate to attract pitching to Coors Field--the Rockies had already shelled out fifty-five million for Denny Neagle-- the Rockies opened their wallets and shelled out a jaw dropping one hundred and twenty-one million for eight years of his services.
The deal was the longest given to a pitcher since 1977 and remains the richest ever given to a pitcher. (It is the sixth highest contract of all-time, behind those given to A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Todd Helton and Soriano's new one.) The Rockies realized almost instantly that the deal was a mistake; Hampton pitched just two years for them winning twenty-one games aganist twenty-eight losses with a 5.76 ERA. In the off-season of 2002, the Rockies offloaded Hampton onto the Braves in a complicated three-team trade with the Marlins which bizarrely featured the Marlins agreeing to pay Hampton twenty-three million to pitch for a division rival. All said Colorado paid Hampton forty-nine million for his time with them, coming to $128,384 per inning.
The Rockies must have been thrilled to watch their erstwhile pitcher in Atlanta however, as after paying him almost nothing the first few years, the Braves will pay Hampton thirteen million a year for the 2006-08 seasons. Hampton already missed all of last year having arm surgery and while the Braves are publically optimistic for Hampton's return in '07, it is far from a sure thing. For the moment then, Hampton cost the Rockies $128,384 per inning pitched, the Marlins twenty three and a half million (despite never playing for them) and the Braves $112,355 per inning pitched. That's a lousy contract.