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The MLB’s Most Expensive Underachievers In 2022

The MLB is one of the leagues that allows teams to spend as much as they want without the consequence of taxes or fees. The only repercussions these teams with expensive rosters feel are the ones in the loss column when the spending doesn’t pan out.

The usual big spenders like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox are typically able to escape this mass spending with little consequence and major results. This year, we have a few teams that may be regretting their payrolls this October if they don’t turn things around.

Bad, But Not The Worst

Detroit Tigers

As things stand right now, the Detroit Tigers sit in fourth place of the AL Central, possibly the least competitive division in baseball. While the Tigers are the lowest spenders on this list, as they are just a hair under the league average, they are one of the worst teams in baseball.

Currently, they sit in the sixteenth spot on the MLB’s payroll chart for 2022 with a payroll of just over $138 million. While the Tigers were not expected to be world-beaters, they have not performed to the level of their payroll. Miguel Cabrera, 39, is by far the best player on the team.

From the DH spot in the lineup, Miggy is batting .289 in 187 plate appearances while leading the team with 21 RBIs. Aside from him, it is a ton of mediocrity. Javier Baez is vastly underperforming his contract, Jonathan Schoop is having the worst year of his career, and the starting pitching has been awful aside from Tarik Skubal. At a record of 24-36, the Tigers will need some major turnarounds to make this payroll worth it.

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have been near the top in recent years, but this year things dropped off a bit. While they are still spending above league average, the trading of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and others last year dropped the payroll in a big way. The Cubs currently occupies the fourteenth most expensive payroll in the MLB and have the second-worst record in the NL Central to show for it.

For the Cubs, the bats actually aren’t too bad. Ian Happ and Wilson Contreras have been playing up to par with the rest of the squad bringing in their team BA at around .241. The major problem here for the Cubs is the starting pitching. Marcus Stroman, the highest-paid player on the team, is currently on the 15-day IL and has a head-scratching 5.32 ERA in nine starts. Kyle Hendricks sits at third on the payroll and is not doing much better with a 5.22 ERA in eleven games. They are currently 27th in the majors in Quality Starts and have a team ERA of 4.58, good for 26th.

Add in the behemoth of a contract for Jason Heyward and you have a team that is paying an above-average payroll to lose 100 games. I think we all expected this to be a transition year for the Cubs, but I am sure it is a lot more expensive than their front office would like it to be.

Expensive Team, Costly Mistakes

Los Angeles Angels

After a hot start to the season, the Angels have fallen off in a big way. At one point, they were the 27-17 and one of the best contenders in the AL West. Since losing to the Rangers in a 7-2 contest on May 25th, the Angels are an astounding 2-17 over their last 19 games. Including a 14-game losing streak.

Currently, the Angels sit 9.5 games back from the division-leading Houston Astros at 29-34. Over the last 19 games, the Angels have been shutout four times, scored one run in four more losses, and surrendered seven or more runs in seven contests. They have simply been unable to tie the batting and pitching together recently.

Their payroll is the eighth-most expensive in the MLB, highlighted by the enormous salaries of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Noah Syndergaard, with that trio encompassing nearly 50% of the overall payroll. Mike Trout is going to do what Mike Trout does, but they need more from the other two if this team expects to turn things around. Syndergaard has just 35 strikeouts in 51 innings of work, which is much less than his career strikeout per inning average of 1.06.

Anthony Rendon on the other hand is batting well below his .283 career average. To make matters worse, he injured his wrist in his last contest and could miss some time. With Tyler Wade expected to step in for Rendon, things may get worse for this expensive Angels squad.

Chicago White Sox – 7th

The second Chicago team to appear in this article is the White Sox with their seventh-highest payroll coming in at a whopping $195 million. They currently sit five games back from the Twins and third in the AL Central with a record of 29-31. If these guys didn’t have the Royals and Tigers to beat up on, with eight of their 29 wins coming against the two clubs, things could be much worse for the White Sox.

Their highest-paid players include Jose Abreu at $19.66 million, Yasmani Grandal at $18.25 million, Lance Lynn at $18.5 million, A.J. Pollock at $14.5 million, Liam Hendricks at $13.33 million, and Yoan Moncada at $13.8 million. This doesn’t even include the $18 million the White Sox are on the hook for with Dallas Keuchel. Of the top dollar guys, Yasmani Grandal, Yoan Moncada, and Lance Lynn are far from pulling their weight.

Granted, the White Sox have had a number of injuries, but the player needs to be on the field to justify the contract. The Chi Sox are in one of the least competitive divisions in the MLB, if they are not able to make a run in the AL Central, they will have a hard time taking a Wild Card spot. It is up to their most expensive players to display why they are making the big bucks and it simply isn’t happening so far.

Dan Portillo

Check out some of Dan’s other Stadium Rant content here. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_tf40 and check in with his podcast The Fastest 40 on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts, & anywhere you listen to podcasts!



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