If you were one of the insane people who stood outside a store at 10PM on Thanksgiving night to get a crack at buying something as trivial as a heavily-discounted waffle maker, then perhaps I could interest you in some drastically-reduced ballplayers?
Yes, we’ve got the most bargain-basement prices on scrubs and stars alike … some of them with salaries sliced by 97%! Hurry … supplies are limited … no rainchecks will be issued.
Here then are the players who took the biggest year-to-year pay cuts over the last 25 years (salary data courtesy of Biz of Baseball):
Jason Giambi (2008 salary: $23,428,571; 2009 salary: $4,000,000; reduction: $19,428,571): 2008 was the last year of Giambi’s seven-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees. While he was a statue in the field, he did still produce with the bat (.247/.373/.502 in 565 PAs, good for a 128 OPS+). The Bombers had their eyes on a younger, better-fielding version of Giambi. So the Giambino signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the A’s for 2009, hit .193 through the beginning of August, got released, then was picked up by the Rockies.
Manny Ramirez (2010 salary: $18,695,006; 2011 salary: $2,020,000; reduction: $16,675,006): Ramirez signed a reported two-year, $45 million deal with the Dodgers in 2009. 2009 went well, but when the Dodgers fell out of contention in 2010, they placed Manny on waivers, and the White Sox, desperate for some offense, picked him up to be their DH (he slugged .319 in 88 PAs for them). After an off-season of uncertainty, and with some career milestones still in sight, he joined former teammate Johnny Damon in Tampa. And then, Manny was Manny again.
Sammy Sosa (2005 salary: $17,000,000; 2006 – did not play; 2007 salary: $500,000; reduction: $16,500,000): Traded from the Cubs to the Orioles prior to the 2005 season, Sosa put up a .221/.295/.376 line and was subsequently not offered arbitration by the O’s after the season. The Nationals offered him a minor league deal for $500,000 for 2006, which he turned down. After sitting out the year, he signed a similar deal with Texas in 2007, and made the team out of Spring Training.
And the highest by % decrease:
Kevin Appier (2003 salary: $11,500,000; 2004 salary: $300,000; reduction: 97.4%): Appier’s 2003 season was plagued by a flexor tendon injury, and he was released by the Angels in late July. The Royals, unexpected contenders in the AL Central, picked him off of waivers the next week, but he lasted only five starts before needing surgery on the tendon. He re-signed for the league minimum with Kansas City for 2004, but retired soonafter when his skills didn’t reappear post-surgery.
And here is a list of those players that took at least a 75% pay cut from year-to-year: