15 worst Chicago Cubs free agent signings in franchise history
The seven-year, $177 million free agent contract given to Dansby Swanson marked a return to big spending for the Chicago Cubs this winter. After unsuccessfully betting on the core of the World Series-winning 2016 team year-in and year-out, the front office finally faced the music and dismantled the group ahead of the 2021 trade deadline.
That sell-off, the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and last winter's lockout kept ownership holding onto its wallet and, now, Chicago is back to flexing its large market muscle in free agency, doling out more than $300 this offseason. But the team's record in free agency is checkered, at best, with some notable swings and misses over the years.
15 Worst Signings in Chicago Cubs History
15. LaTroy Hawkins - 3 Years, $11.2 Million (2004)
If you took a passing glance at LaTroy Hawkins' numbers during his time with the Cubs, you'd easily dismiss his inclusion on such a list. But a closer look tells a different story - one I'm sure Hawkins himself may disagree with.
The right-hander signed with Chicago in Dec. 2003 and he played a key role in the Cubs bullpen the following year. The setup man-turned-closer made a whopping 77 appearances, spanning 82 innings, working to a 3.54 FIP, 4.93 K/BB ratio and 1.049 WHIP. So what exactly is the problem here?
Hawkins blew nine saves as the team's closer, including a key game against the Mets in September that seemed to totally take the wind out of the team's sails. The Cubs dropped six of their last 8 games, falling out of the postseason picture. Coming on the heels of the 2003 run, the late season collapse drew the ire of Cubs fans more than it may have otherwise done and Hawkins was a favorite scapegoat in all of it.
He had a complicated relationship with fans and the media - and the fact he blew more saves from 2004-05 than any other pitcher in baseball certainly didn't win him much support. His numbers ballooned early in 2005 (5.49 FIP, 1.86 K/BB in 21 appearances) and the Cubs shipped him off to San Francisco in a trade, less than halfway through his three-year contract.