Legends On Deck

Are Big Contracts Worth The Risk?

In 2000, Alex Rodriguez signed with the Texas Rangers as the highest paid free agent in baseball history at that time.  The contract was a 10-year, $252 Million dollar deal that has stood as the highest until this off season.

After the 2001 season, A-Rod finished in sixth place in the MVP voting after batting .315, with 52 home runs and 135 RBI’s.  For the next two seasons he hit 57 HR’s (2002), finished second in the MVP voting and 47 HR’s (2003) and won the AL MVP award.

Rodriguez lived up to what the Rangers were hoping he would become, but he only lasted in Texas for three of the ten years he initially signed for. In those three seasons, the team won just 73, 72, and 71 games from 2001-2003, and even though Rodriguez was the top player, the team finished each season in fourth place.  Did the Rangers get what they bargained for, or did the contract keep them from truly building a dynasty? But you really couldn’t blame A-Rod, because he did what he was paid to do.

On February 16, 2004, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig approved a record setting deal that sent A-Rod along with part of his massive contract to the New York Yankees, in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. The Yankees were the only other team that could take on part of such a large contract.

The Rangers agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million left of the original $252 million deal. So imagine paying for a guy that is no longer on your team; probably not a smart move by the Rangers in the first place.

Now fast forward to this off season and the new players are the Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton. The deal: 13 years, $325 million dollars.Stanton

Just thinking about it, WOW!

Even though there have been a number of large contracts since A-Rod set the record, none have gone higher than $300 million until now.

Stanton will not be receiving the bulk of his salary for the first few years since he agreed to defer some money so the team could invest in players to help them win now, but the mind still has to wonder, did the Marlins outbid themselves when they thought about the numbers?  Now it’s not like Stanton is not a great player, but once again, is the large contract for one player such a smart move.

We all know what happened with the Rangers and A-Rod. Are the Marlins prepared to lose Stanton in a few years and have to eat part of the contract if they do not win? But even if the Marlins do win, their history tells the story, win big, sell the team away.  So in reality what did they really pay for?

Don’t get me wrong, if a team is willing to pay a player a large contract, I don’t see a player that would turn down the cash, but just as I stated in my title, Are the Big Contracts Worth the Risk? My answer would be that I am not too sure.

The Rangers started the trend fourteen years ago and now its Miami’s turn, but how much success will the Marlins actually have and will the huge contract strap them for many years to come?

I always wondered if the Rangers could have been that much better if they spread the money around among a number of players, but not like they didn’t have a good team to begin with, but maybe better pitching would have put them in first place with the fire power during those A-Rod years.

Well, we will never know how those Ranger teams might have fared, but if history does repeat itself, the Marlins will prove once again that paying one player almost as much as the franchise is valued at (Marlins – $500 Mil – March 2014), may not be worth the risk.

(Photo Credit: USATSI)

David Conde
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