Mr. Hampton goes to Colorado
Oh, what a disaster!
At the top of the list is the Rockies’ signing of starting pitcher Mike Hampton. Coming off a three-season sample size where Hampton recorded a strong 3.12 ERA, the Rockies signed Hampton to a mega 8-year, $161 million deal. At the time it sat as the largest contract in Major League Baseball.
Two seasons before the deal, Hampton had pitched to a 22-4 record for the Houston Astros, compiling a 2.90 ERA and finished second in National League Cy Young voting behind only Randy Johnson. Disappointingly, it was a slow burn from that point on as things began to go downhill slowly.
In his first year in Colorado, Hampton made 32 starts finishing a lackluster 14-13 with a 5.41 ERA. Somehow, Hampton was still an All-Star despite allowing a 10.5 H/9, a 3.8 BB/9, and recording a 5.4 K/9. It only got worse from there. In year two, Hampton regressed considerably still, posting a 6.15 ERA across 30 starts.
The following year the team say arrivederci to Hampton. What turned out to be a complicated three-team trade allowed the team to unload most of Hampton’s contract while receiving a few players in return, most notably Preston Wilson who turned out to be a great addition in Colorado.
If you were to ask fans about the worst deal in Rockies history, this would be the one and its not particularly close. Thankfully, never since then has Colorado invested as much money into an aging starting pitcher, or any starting pitcher for that matter, and learned the hardest lesson in the book.