"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
That idiom is the perfect embodiment of the risk and reward that goes into shelling out millions of dollars on the MLB free-agent market.
Yesterday, we took a look at the best free-agent signing in MLB history at each position, highlighting guys like Greg Maddux (ATL), Randy Johnson (ARI) and Manny Ramirez (BOS) who helped lead their teams to World Series titles while putting up superstar-level production.
Now it's time for the opposite end of things.
Ahead we've selected the worst of the worst at each position, focusing on production relative to expectations, and more importantly relative to salary. The longer the deal and the bigger the financial commitment, the more likely a deal that went south was to earn a spot on this list.
We've also included a handful of dishonorable mentions at each position, but feel free to suggest anyone else you feel is worthy of consideration.
Off we go!
Catcher: Todd Hundley, Chicago Cubs
Date: Dec. 19, 2000
Terms: Four years, $23.5 million
It was a big story on the North Side when Todd Hundley—a Chicago-area native and the son of longtime Cubs catcher Randy Hundley—came home and brought his power bat with him by inking a four-year deal prior to the 2001 season.
Hundley enjoyed a breakout season in 1996 when he slugged 41 home runs as a member of the New York Mets, and he followed that up with another 30-homer season and a second straight All-Star appearance the following year.
He reached free agency coming off another strong year in 2000, as he logged a 143 OPS+ with 24 home runs and 70 RBI with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, the Cubs saw nothing close to that level of production during his time with the team.
He hit .199/.285/.398 for a 79 OPS+ with 28 home runs in 171 games over the first two years of the contract. After that, he was shipped back to the Dodgers in a trade that brought Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek the other way.
Also Considered: None
First Baseman: Mo Vaughn, Anaheim Angels
Date: Dec. 11, 1998
Terms: Six years, $80 million
One of the most feared sluggers in baseball during the 1990s, Mo Vaughn hit .315/.405/.569 for a 148 OPS+ while averaging 36 home runs and 110 RBI during his six seasons as an everyday player for the Boston Red Sox.
That impressive run with the team concluded following the 1998 season when he reached free agency for the first time in his career. His foray into the open market came at the perfect time, as he hit .337/.402/.591 with 40 home runs and 115 RBI to finish fourth in AL MVP balloting during the '98 season.
In search of a big bat to join the homegrown trio of Jim Edmonds, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson in the middle of the batting order, the Anaheim Angels gave him a massive six-year, $80 million deal.
After productive seasons in 1999 (119 OPS+, 33 HR, 108 RBI) and 2000 (115 OPS+, 36 HR, 117 RBI), he missed the entire 2001 season with a ruptured tendon in his left arm, and he was traded to the New York Mets for Kevin Appier prior to the 2002 season.
He battled knee injuries from there, playing in just 166 more games and posting minus-1.2 WAR in his three seasons with the Mets.
Also Considered: Eric Hosmer (SD), Adam LaRoche (CWS), Tino Martinez (STL), Albert Pujols (LAA)
Second Baseman: Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners
Date: Dec. 8, 2009
Terms: Four years, $36 million
A valuable Swiss Army knife during his time with the Los Angeles Angels, Chone Figgins hit the free-agent market at the perfect time.
The 32-year-old had put together a career year in 2009 when he hit .298 with a .395 on-base percentage and an AL-leading 101 walks, adding 42 steals and 114 runs scored as a dynamic table-setter with a career-high 7.7 WAR.
That netted him a four-year deal from the Seattle Mariners, and he was slotted in as the team's everyday second baseman for the 2010 season.
In his Mariners debut, he hit .259/.340/.306 for an 84 OPS+ with 42 steals and 1.2 WAR, and that proved to be the high point of his tenure with the team.
He played in 147 games over the next two seasons, logging an ugly minus-2.1 WAR along the way, before he was designated for assignment with $8 million left on his contract.
Also Considered: Omar Infante (KC)