After a good season in 2003, the Orioles offered Sydney Ponson a three-year contract for $22.5 Million. While that may look small by today’s standards, the expectation was that Ponson would be a reliable starter. After a bad first half of the season, he rebounded and ended his first season with 11 wins and 15 losses. Still, his ERA was 5.30.
But, before the second season started Ponson was arrested three times. He assaulted a judge in Aruba, received a DUI in Florida, followed by another DUI in Baltimore. He started 23 games, finishing 7-11 with a 6.21 ERA. The Orioles released him on a morals clause, but the Players Association filed a grievance, and the Orioles paid the remaining $10.1 million while releasing him.
Ponson pitched two of the three seasons with below-average results. He was a disruption with three arrests in a short period of time. In the end, the Orioles had to pay all three seasons of the contract even though Ponson pitched half of the third season with the Cardinals.