Chicago Cubs: Five worst free agent signings in history

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March 8, 2013; Lakeland, FL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher

LaTroy Hawkins

(30) throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LaTroy Hawkins- signed 2003 – 3 years, $11 million

Heading into the 2003 offseason, LaTroy Hawkins was considered, by most, one of the top free agent relief pitchers on the market.  The Chicago Cubs had a need heading into the 2004 season for some bullpen help alongside Joe Borowski.  It was considered one of the Chicago Cubs’ff biggest needs to get this type of player after coming within one game of going to the World Series.

In his last two seasons in Minnesota, Hawkins showed he was worth the money he was seeking as a free agent. While used as more of a set-up man with the Twins, he was untouchable.  In his last campaign with the Twins, the right-hander went 9-3 with a 1.86 earned run average to go along with 75 strikeouts over 77 1/3 innings of work. Before signing with the Cubs, Hawkins did have 44 career saves under his belt but he really found the most success as a set-up man.

Hawkins went into Cubs camp expected to be the set-up man for Borowski, but Hawkins did have a clause in his contract that would give him the opportunity to earn an additional $1.3 million if he became the closer. There was talk early on to have Borowski go back to his original job as the set-up man and have Hawkins take a shot at being the everyday closer considering the money he was being paid.

Hawkins would get his chance early in the season when Borowski was sidelined with injury, but he also struggled before the injury so really it was only a matter of time.  Looking at Hawkins’ stat line, you would think the Cubs did well with signing Hawkins.  He recorded 25 saves and a very respectable 2.63 earned run average, but it was the nine blown saves that hurt Hawkins, especially two of those coming late in the season while the Cubs were in a fight for the wild card spot.

Hawkins would only appear in 21 games in 2005 with the Cubs before being traded away to the San Fransisco Giants for pitchers Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.