Cardinals: Ranking the 10 worst contracts in the National League Central Division

The NL Central, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, generally doesn't have a ton of bad contracts, however, no organization is immune to mistakes. Today, we'll sift through the worst deals in the division!

Steven Matz faces the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium
Steven Matz faces the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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What exactly is a "bad" contract? In general, a bad contract is one that the organization ends up wishing they had not agreed to. This is most apparent in situations where a team cuts a former free agent signee or takes on significant money while shipping a player out of town. Obvious examples include Boston's Pablo Sandoval and Carl Crawford deals. In both cases, the team cut ties with the player involved and ended up paying them to play for another team.

It's a bit more difficult to discuss these contracts within the NL Central. This is because they don't typically happen. Teams in this division are much more risk-averse than the bigger spenders on the coasts. Now, that doesn't mean the division is chronically less competitive. Commentators have pushed the narrative that the sport's central divisions are weaker than those of the coasts. In 2023 that may be true, especially considering how disappointing the Cardinals have been.

But, it should be noted that from 2010-2020, the NL Central squads made 10 appearances in the National League Championship Series, including a string of 9 consecutive seasons between 2011 and 2019. Those 10 appearances outpaced both the East and West divisions. It simply means that the NL Central is a unique environment within the MLB landscape.

Perhaps the narrative that Central teams are less competitive comes from their relative lack of superstars. The NL Central in particular has largely struggled to land expensive free agents. At least four of the division's five teams should be classified as small or mid-market teams. Only the Chicago Cubs can be considered a true spender. This is why the Central is largely devoid of "bad contracts."

However, they do happen. No organization is immune to mistakes, although risk-averse organizations make mistakes of a smaller scale or caliber. This is how most bad deals in the central should be classified. While they are undoubtedly mistakes, they generally don't cripple organizations. Without further ado, let's get onto the list!

Here are the 10 worst contracts in the National League Central Division