10. Sammy Sosa
After finishing the 2004 season on a 21-13 hot streak, the Orioles entered the offseason seeking a middle-of-the-order bat to protect All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada and traded infielders Jerry Hairston and Mike Fontenot and pitcher David Crouthers to the Chicago Cubs for slugger Sammy Sosa.
The 36-year-old right fielder was on the decline but had still clubbed 35 homers and posted an .849 OPS in his final year with the Cubs. Fortunately, the Orioles were only on the hook for $5 million of Sosa’s $17 million salary in 2005 as he posted an anemic .671 OPS and hit only .221 while managing 14 home runs.
Sosa missed extensive time with foot and toe injuries and didn’t fit into a clubhouse that would eventually disintegrate with manager Lee Mazzilli being fired and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro testing positive for steroids. The aging outfielder would take a year off before returning to the majors for a respectable final season in 2007, but Sosa couldn’t have been much worse for the Orioles, who spent a large portion of the first half of 2005 in first place before collapsing after the All-Star break.
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