The Indians cut ties with pitcher Wayne Garland, just halfway through the ten-year contract he signed with Cleveland after his 20-7 breakout season with the Baltimore Orioles in 1976.
Garland inked his extensive contract as part of baseball’s first real free agent class for a total of $2.3 million, making him the game’s first millionaire free agent. He was a former fifth overall pick of the O’s in the first round of the June 1969 Secondary phase of the amateur draft. He had marginal success for Baltimore, working primarily in relief, until his breakout 1976 season. In addition to the stellar record, he posted a 2.67 ERA, threw 14 complete games, and had four shutouts.
With the Tribe in 1977, he was 13-19 with a 3.60 ERA in 38 starts. He threw 21 complete games, but led the league in losses while tossing a career high 282 2/3 innings. The next season, he appeared in just six games with a 2-3 record and 7.89 ERA and had surgery on a torn rotator cuff. In 1979, he was 4-10 with a 5.23 ERA in 18 games (14 starts) and “improved” to 6-9 with a 4.61 ERA in 25 games (20 starts) in 1980.
After his 3-7 effort with a pair of complete games and a 5.79 ERA in 12 appearances in 1981, the Indians cut their losses. He was 28-48 with a 4.50 ERA in his Indians career and never pitched at the Major League level again, despite being paid another $1 million over the next five seasons.