Yankees Worst Free Agent Signings Number 3
Adam – It was really tough to split hairs between the top-three but alas, it must be done. Here lies the contract of Ed Whitson. It has been 35 years since he signed his contract and he has left a legacy albeit not for the reasons the Yankees were hoping for at the time of the signing. I know five years, $4.5 Mil does not seem like a lot but in 1984 the average annual salary was $329K.
He came to New York with real expectations after a 3.24 ERA with the Giants that year and a former All-Star appearance in 1980. People have broken down his pre and post All-Star break form but there is really no reason. He had a 4.88 ERA (with two complete-game shutouts as an aberration) and allowed an incredible 244 baserunners by way of hit or walk in 158.2 innings. That type of performance will not endear him to the fickle Yankees fan base. Constant heckling followed him everywhere he went and Billy Martin, then Yankees manager did not help. He constantly rode Whitson until, one night in Baltimore, they got into it at a hotel and the incident ended with Whitson breaking Martin’s arm.
Martin was fired after the season and then, unfortunately, the next year Whitson was even worse than the year before. He made 14 starts and almost doubled his ERA to 7.54 with 77 baserunners by way of hit or walk. He just kept getting worse. He was dealt out of New York in July and the chapter ended. The lore of one of the Yankees worst free agents signings will never go away.
Rich – Ed Whitson is my choice for the third worst free agent signing in Yankees history. Not many of the younger fans probably even know who Whitson is. He was a free agent pitcher signed by the Yankees in 1984 for five years, $4.5 million (and got an extra year and more perks added into the deal by initially turning down the first offer). Now, ignore the money; that was a decent amount back then. The big problem with Whitson is what happened after he joined the Yankees. He simply got rocked, again and again and again and again (minus a couple of starts in his first year). You see the pattern? Hitters had a slash line of .341/.380/.529 against him in his last 13 starts after the All-Star Break (this after a slash line of .357/.398/.559 in his first 11 starts). Then, Whitson and Yankees manager Billy Martin actually brawled in a hotel, breaking Martin’s arm, all because of criticism of Whitson by Martin. Martin was fired after the season, and then Whitson was traded back to the Mariners after the All-Star Break the following season. As a member of the Yankees for one and a half seasons, Whitson went 15-10, with an ERA of 5.38, an ERA+ of 75, and a WHIP of 1.641.