With an excellent, seven-year resume at the young age of 29, Barry Zito signed the largest contract for a pitcher to date. The San Francisco Giants paid him $126 million over seven years.
Mysteriously, Zito never had a single season with the Giants with an ERA under 4.00. In his first five seasons, he had a losing record every year. The first season he had an 11-13 record. In the next four years, he won 10,10, 9, and 3 games. In those years, his earned run average was over 5.00 twice.
Zito rallied in his sixth year of the contract; his record was 15-8 with an ERA of 4.15. He won two games in the World Series, including a game one victory over Justin Verlander. The Giants won the World Series.
His seventh and final year was a return to poor performance. With a record of 5-11 and an ERA of 5.74, Zito completed his tenure with the Giants. He had only one winning season, his record was 63-80, and his ERA was always over 4.00—including three seasons over 5.00. The 63 wins in 7 seasons were less than 10 per year. Compare that with 102 wins in his seven previous years with Oakland.
After his contract with the Giants, Zito only pitched in only three more games before retiring at the age of 37. A terrible contract and dramatic change in performance are enough to qualify as a Swing Badder contract.