In 2007, Gary Matthews had played 7 seasons with 7 different teams. He was always known as an outstanding defensive outfielder with great speed and leaping ability. His offense was only average at best.
In 2006, his offense became much better for 1 year. As an average .250 batter, he hit .313 with a career high of 19 home runs with the Texas Rangers. With that production in mind, the Angels signed him to an unwise 5 year contract worth $50 million.
Before the 2007 season started, it was discovered that he had taken performance enhancing drugs and was named in the infamous Mitchell Report. It was determined that Matthews had taken performance enhancing drugs before they became a “banned substance”. Therefore there would be no punishment and the Angels had to honor his contract.
In year 1 of the contract his average predictably dropped to .252 but he managed to hit 18 home runs. Then it all collapsed. He hit .242 with only 8 home runs in year 2 of the contract. Year 3 was .242 with only 4 home runs.
After only 3 years, the Angels recognized their mistake. They were able to trade him to the Mets by agreeing to pay $21 of the $23 million left in the contract. Basically, the Angels ended up paying the $50 million for one average year and 2 bad ones. The last two years they paid him to play for the Mets. That lasted only until June when he was released after only 36 games. The last year and a half of his contract, Matthews tried unsuccessfully to play for a major league team. His career was over.
To summarize, the Angels paid a player with only one good season out of 7 seasons with proof of taking performance enhancing drugs. When he did not perform, the Angels had to pay him $50 million. That is like a huge lottery win completely undeserved.