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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8 Comments

  1. David Conde

    December 18, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Cur, thanks for your feedback and great comment, you are right on with what Loria is doing. I have visited the Marlins stadium and it is way expensive to even eat there, let along watch a game and can’t imagine what it will be next season. But what he is doing there is just not right for baseball as you noted.

    But yes I am a die-hard Mets fan and yes LOL, I understand the suffering. But it’s the first baseball cap I was given as a child and the team I grew up watching. I lived through the Glory Days, suffered through the 90’s and miss Piazza on the team. But maybe with our strong minor league system, we can finally get back to where we were. Only time will tell…

    • Rik

      December 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Speaking of contracts, you see Brendan Morrow, Josh Johnson AND Matt Kemp are going to be on the Padres? Man, Oh, Man…lets see…that’s two arthritic hips, one bad ankle, one post-op UCL replacement, and one DippyDoodleIitis (or whatever it is gonna be wrong with Morrow next). Tell me, are The Padres insane or are they just TRYING to have The Most Injured Team Out Of Spring Training EVER?

      • David Conde

        December 21, 2014 at 9:42 am

        I think they feel that they are willing to take a chance on some players that might be able to produce. The see the market and maybe in their minds they fell these guys are worth the risk. Only time will tell but atleaat they are trying to improve their team….. Only time will tell

    • Rik

      December 19, 2014 at 11:41 am

      For purposes of clarity I’ve edited that screen name to my actual first name. This way we’re all on even footing (sorta). I imagine in short order it’ll be exactly even up…providing you talk to your wife much
      🙂

      • David Conde

        December 20, 2014 at 11:25 pm

        Funny she mentioned something to me about someone in the unit asking about my blog, i was kind of stumped since i didn’t even know anyone knew about it, but i figured it out when you mentioned me being a Mets fan lol. Well you are more than welcome to comment on our posts, thanks for the follow

        • Rik

          December 21, 2014 at 9:35 am

          Thanks for the hot tips on the pitching prospects. Would it be all right if I sent a link to your blog to some friends who might be looking for more baseball news? I know at least one other blogger (Craig Calcaterra) who might also like to look over your blog. His is posted on NBC Sports (Harballtalk) and he often links other content if he likes what he sees. Your “Who Retired” post was pretty good and the “Any Game Is A Good Game” might also see some traffic.

          • David Conde

            December 21, 2014 at 9:40 am

            Rik please feel free to share my blog with whomever you like. We want our traffic to grow and nothing better than having the site sharws out by everyone. I appreciate your support and following our page. Things are a bit slow now but once the season gets closer content will continue to flow.

  2. Rik

    December 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Interesting post. As always with contracts you are seeing teams paying for future performance based on a track record. In Stanton’s case, there is another record to consider: that of the Marlins and their propensity for dubious deals. Loria killed The Expos and then was allowed to buy the Marlins. Along the way he’s been happy to spend very little on payroll until he wanted a new stadium, then he backloaded some contracts, got some names, and then sold the players once he no longer need tax payer good will. Its arguable he’s in the midst of doing more of the same with Stanton’s back loaded deal. He may just be getting ready to sell the team, in fact. I just don’t trust him to do anything in the best interests of baseball. He’s looking out forJeff Loria and ONLY Jeff Loria’s interests, if you ask me.

    In any case and totally beside the point, I see our author is a Mets fan. Well, that’s a bit special, if you ask me. After all, you had The Yankees as well to choose from. Instead…The Mets? Oy. To be a Mets fan is To Know Suffering. To remain a Mets fan is a lesson on endurance. Most Mets fans are good at dealing with long term pain since they learn excellent coping skills from their years of suffering.

    /hat tip

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