Best Contracts In Cleveland Indians History

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May 28, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox former player Manny Ramirez throws out the first pitch before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Basically just stealing money

In 1997, the Indians locked up Manny Ramirez to a four-year/$13.55 million deal. In his worst year (97) he was worth 4.6 wins. He made three All-Star teams and finished top six in MVP voting three times.

The rabid ‘right handed bat’ fans must still think that you can get a 40 homer bat for roughly three million a year. Given how cheap the Indians kept Ramirez locked up for, it’s no surprise Scott Boras made Manny break the bank as soon as he finished rounding third after hitting a homer in his final at bat as an Indian in 2000. For the money, Ramirez might have been the best contract the Indians ever ventured into.

Add in another $39.7 million over eight years for Jim Thome from 1997 to 2002, the Indians got a combined 30.9 WAR (5.15/a season) for an average of $6.16 million a year. Between Ramirez and Thome alone from 1997-2000, the Indians got 32.5 wins for an average of $9.547 million a season.

Consider that Mike Trout will make $144 million before he becomes a potential free agent at the ripe-old age of 28 and Giancarlo Stanton has played four seasons and will need to buy a small island just to find room to store all his money, deals like Thome’s and Ramirez’s will NEVER EVER happen again. I could take the time to try and adjust the two contracts for inflation, but also consider that Thome and Ramirez were on the same team and the Indians locked them both up, is ridiculous.

Albert Belle from 1993-1996 made $14.65 million. All he did was average 43 homers a year, led the league in RBIs three times and missed out an MVP award. When he signed that deal, Belle had come off of 28 and 34 home run seasons at the age of 25. Think Trout would have signed a three-year deal coming off of those kind of seasons? Not today. Matt Kemp made $11 million in the first year of his deal after winning the MVP in 2011 at age 26.

I do not have the numbers however, what Belle cost the Indians in corked bats, broken thermostats and fines for scaring NBC reporters.

The Rehabs

Kevin Millwood led the AL in ERA (2.86) win 2005 while making seven million. His presence kept the Indians in the race until the last weekend of the season. It also started the Indians reputation and propensity for these ‘rehab deals.’

$10 million is probably worth a 4.5 win season from Juan Gonzalez in 2001. Technically in 2001, he wasn’t a rehab but did take a one year deal in Cleveland. His 35 homers and 140 RBIs were a nice fill in for Ramirez in the Indians last years of dominance. The reason maybe Gonzalez deserves to be on the best rehab contracts list?

He made $600,000 for one at bat in 2005, straining his hamstring running to first against Minnesota. His injury paved the way for Grady Sizemore to emerge.

After missing most of 2003 with an arm injury, the Indians picked up Bob Howry for around a cool million. ERA’s of 2.74 and 2.47 in 2004 and 2005 over 37 and 79 appearances respectively, gave the Indians their money’s worth.