2. Signing Jeff Suppan As A Free Agent
We all knew this would have to be on the list somewhere. Back in 2006, Doug Melvin decided to sign Jeff Suppan to a four year, $42 million contract. He gave this to a pitcher who had one sub-4.00 ERA season in his entire career to that point.
Suppan pitched extremely well in the 2006 postseason, earning the NLCS MVP award for the Cardinals. That’s the only reason he got this contract heading into his age-32 season.
Predictably, this signing went terribly. In his first season, Suppan posted a 4.62 ERA, and it never got better than that. In 2008, his ERA went up to 4.96. He made one start in the NLDS, going three innings and allowing five runs. In 2009, he had a 5.29 ERA. In 2010, he had an atrocious 7.84 ERA before the Brewers finally released him that June.
I wish I could say that these were injury-riddled seasons and that played a role in his poor numbers. But he was perfectly healthy, making 30+ starts in each of his three full seasons with the club.
Overall in Milwaukee, Suppan had a 5.08 ERA in 97 starts with a 1.59 WHIP. I don’t think there has ever been a bigger waste of $42 million in baseball than the $42 million the Brewers wasted on Suppan.
Frankly, the Suppan signing has made a huge impact on Milwaukee Brewers fans because ever since then, fans have been wary of signing any free agent pitcher to a 4+ year contract, because this one turned out so poorly. Our history in free agency with starting pitchers has not been pretty, and this deal was the ugliest of them all.