Beware the $100 million contract


Baseball salaries changed forever in the winter of 2000-2001. That off-season four position players and a pitcher signed contracts that would pay them a combined average annual value of $92 million, or just around the total salary of the Yankees, bearers of the league’s highest payroll.1 In the following eight years, nine more position players and three more pitchers signed $100 contracts, in addition to Ken Griffey’s $116.5 million deal in 2000. So how did these $100 million players fare?

Clearly, the Matt Holliday signing spurred this question. Earlier this week he signed a seven-year, $120 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, the decade’s first nine figure deal. Because contracts for pitchers carry different risks than contracts for position players, we’ll focus on the latter. Let’s see where these contracts stack up. Played out contracts, obviously, have the edge.

1. Albert Pujols: 7 years, $100 million (2004)

We’re just six years into the Pujols contract and already it’s the best of the lot. The deal will look even better when the Cardinals pick up his 2011 option for $16 million. Pujols is one of four players on the list who signed before reaching free agency, so his contract is expected to provide surplus value. Over the last six years Pujols put up the best raw numbers in baseball: .334/.435/.636, a 175 OPS+. He has manned first base for the duration of the contract, the position furthest right on the defensive spectrum, but even so his numbers are just insane. Plus, defensive handicap or not, the value of his contract makes it the best of the $100 million lot.

2. Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $252 million (2001)

Did Tom Hicks overbid? Probably. Did A-Rod live up to his contract? Absolutely. Over that span he hit .304/.400/.591, an OPS+ of 154. For the first three years he played shortstop, winning two gold gloves — though we know that they’re no measure of true defensive ability. In its first two seasons of usage, 2002 and 03, UZR had him as enormously positive. After that he moved to third, not quite as premium a position, but certainly ranked above the corner outfield spots. He also won all three of his MVP titles during this span. Plus, for what it’s worth, he outperformed his WAR-dollars in all but two years of the contract, and outperformed it on the whole.

3. Manny Ramirez: 8 years, $160 million (2001)

The Red Sox needed a big bat in the winter of 2000, and they got perhaps the best pure hitter on the market in Manny. His offensive numbers were actually better than A-Rod, as Manny hit .315/.415/.595, a 158 OPS+, from 2001 through 2008. But he stole only nine bases to A-Rod’s 128, and also played a far less important defensive position. Manny has faced endless criticism of his defense, though he did the one important thing for a Boston left fielder. He played balls well off the monster.

4. Derek Jeter: 10 years, $189 million (2001)

For a player who puts up Jeter’s numbers, that contract might seem a bit out of line. But by the time he signed the deal in the winter of 2000-2001, he was already the face of the franchise. Alex Rodriguez had just signed his mega deal, and Jeter wanted a favorable comparison. While Jeter ended up worth the salary, the Yankees could have had him cheaper. In the winter of 1999-2000, the two sides agreed to a seven-year, $118.5 million deal, which would have mean an AAV of $2 million less. Oh well.

Here’s where things start to get tough.

5. Carlos Beltran: 7 years, $119 million (2005)

While Beltran got off to a slow start with the Mets in 2005, he has generally shined during this contract. He hit .275/.362/.505, a 125 OPS+, through the first four years, during which time he played a stellar center field. He seemed poised for a career year in 2009 before he hurt his knee and missed half the season. Beltran has two years left on the deal, and if he performs like he did in the first four years, it will be a good value for the Mets.

6. Todd Helton: 11 years, $141.5 million (2001)

In 2000, Helton’s contract didn’t quite seem like a steal, but it seemed pretty good. He had just come off a year in which he led the NL in batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, hits, RBI, and total bases. He went on to post an OPS above 1.000 for the next four seasons, and although his production has dipped a bit in the past five years it’s still at an elite level. Back issues have hurt him throughout the contract, though 2008 was the only year in which he missed significant time. Otherwise, a .326/.433/.554, 143 OPS+ performance sounds great to me.

7. Miguel Cabrera: 8 years, $152.3 million (2008)

Even though his OBP dipped during his first year in the American League, Miguel Cabrera still led the league in home runs in 2008. He followed that up with a much better 2009, with his OBP again approaching the .400 mark. During the two years of his deal he’s hit .308/.373/.542, a 135 OPS+. He’ll be 27 in 2010, meaning he’ll be just 32 during the contract’s final year. Once he’s through, he could be ranked above Beltran, and maybe even above Jeter. But that’s a tall order.

8. Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $275 million (2008)

This was perhaps the toughest to rank. A-Rod missed time in 2009 but came back to produce big time. He also had a good but not great year in 2008. Part of this ranking is future potential. He should have a few more good years before he starts to decline. Plus, I couldn’t put Giambi’s contract over this, ill-advised as it may have been.

9. Jason Giambi: 7 years, $120 million (2002)

The good of Jason’s deal: He hit .260/.404/.521 during his deal, a 142 OPS+. He raked during the first year of the contract, had a huge comeback year in 2005 that powered the Yanks to the playoffs, and he contributed a lot to the 2006 team. The bad: in two years he missed about half of the games, and in two others he played in 139 games. His spot on the defensive spectrum hurts, but his bad D at that position hurts a bit more.

10. Mark Teixeira: 8 years, $180 million (2009)

We’re just one year into Teixeira’s contract, so it’s tough to judge it at this point. As you’ll see, however, this ranking is more due to Tex’s durability. The players below him either have injury concerns, or have underperformed their contracts. Tex was worth his salary in 2009, and is entering his age-30 season in 2010. He should have at least a few more very productive years in him.

11. Carlos Lee: 6 years, $100 million (2007)

It’s not that Carlos Lee has hit poorly in Houston. He’s actual hit quite well, posting a .305/.354/.524, 127 OPS+ line during the first three years of his contract. That’s not a $100 million performance, however, especially for a corner outfielder. Then again, it’s not like Lee demonstrated that he’d be any better. His 144 OPS+ in 2008 was the highest of his career, though he played in only 115 games. But he gets the nod over the three bad contracts.

12. Ken Griffey Jr.: 9 years, $116.5 million (2000)

Signed a year before the big contracts hit, Griffey was still an exciting player in 2000. Had had led the league in home runs in each of the previous three years, and looked to use that power to turn around the Reds franchise. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Griffey played well during his first season, but didn’t again reach 140 games played until 2007. He averaged just 110 games per year during the contract, so even though he put up a .269/.361/.510, 121 OPS+ line he was a disappointment.

13. Alfonso Soriano: 8 years, $136 million (2007)

Soriano is another player who parlayed a career year into an way too big contract. His .351 OBP and .560 SLG in 2006 were career highs, leading the Cubs to greatly overpay him during that off-season. Like Griffey, he almost immediately ran into injury problems with his new team. He played in just 135 games in 2007, his OBP dropping back to normal levels. In the last two years he’s played in 109 and 117 games, and while the home runs have come not much else has. He’s entering his age-34 season, so there’s not much reason to remain optimistic that he’ll live up to the deal.

14. Vernon Wells: 7 years, $126 million (2007)

This deal looked bad before the extension even kicked in. Wells posted a stellar 2006 season, hitting .293/.357/.542, a 129 OPS+, while playing a good center field. Fearing he’d lose Wells to free agency a year later, then-GM J.P. Ricciardi signed Wells to his extension, which wouldn’t kick in until 2008. In 2007 Ricciardi was already having second thoughts. Wells hit .245/.304/.402. In 2008 he missed 59 days with a hamstring strain and wrist fracture, though he hit well while healthy. In 2009 he was mostly healthy, but again hit poorly. The worst part of this deal, other than Wells probably never living up to it, is that it’s highly backloaded. After earning $12.5 million this year, Wells will earn $23 million in 2011 and $21 million in 2012-14.

Where will this list stand in 5 years?

It’s tough to tell what the $100 million position player contract list will sit a few years from now, though that won’t stop me from speculating. I doubt anyone tops the Pujols contract, or even the Manny and A-Rod contracts. Teixeira’s ranks should rise, as should Cabrera’s. As for where Matt Holliday falls, I’ll bet right ahead of Giambi and Lee, but behind Helton and Beltran. Good production, but not 1.000 OPS good or premium position good. Though, as we can see from the list, he can really end up anywhere.

1The Minnesota Twins paid their players $15.8 million in 2000, the lowest payroll in the majors. The AAV of the contracts to A-Rod ($25.2 mil), Jeter ($18.9 mil), and Manny ($20 mil) exceeded that, and Mike Hampton’s AAV came in less than a million below. (Up)

Categories : Players


  1. mike c says:

    Jeet’s getting a 4/100 next year right?
    as far as i’m concerned him and Mo write their own checks

    • A.D. says:

      Jeet’s getting a 4/100 next year right?

      I certainly hope not.

      • mike c says:

        woops, I meant 5/100

        • Steve H says:

          I certainly hope not.

          • whozat says:

            If he has a good year, I think he will get 4/5 at 20MM+ per. I _hope_ not, but I don’t think I’ll get my wish.

            • Steve H says:

              I just hope we don’t ridiculously overpay. If the best deal on the market were 3/$50 or some semblance of that 5/$100 would be a poor decision. Who would sign him, and to play what position? I don’t want to lowball him, but in reality he shouldn’t be paid much more than market value, which certainly isn’t 5/$100.

              • whozat says:

                Oh, I totally agree that he SHOULDN’T get so much, and that no one else would give him nearly as much.

                But, he’s DEREK JETER, and all his agent has to do is hint to the press that they’re thinking of “only” giving him 17MM a year and there’ll be editorial after editorial calling them a disgrace. I mean ARod gets so much more, and he’s a choker!

                • Tom Zig says:

                  5 rings baby, 5 rings

                • YRAMK807 says:

                  Did you watch the 2009 postseason? I don’t think you can ever call A-Rod a choker anymore…pretty sure it’s against the law now.

                  But seeing that Mo and Posada got multi year deals and more money than any other’s at their positions, so should Jeter. There aren’t as many good short stops as there were 10 years ago.

                  I’m guessing 4 years 60 mill.

    • Well its a good thing you are not the GM or owner of the Yankees.

    • 4 years? Yes. $100M? No. He will get more from NYY than he could get from anywhere else – and by a lot – but not by that much. After the season he’ll be 36. That means 4 year deal takes him to 40 years old. There is no chance he is still playing starting shortstop on a WS winner in New York City at 40. My guess is hat he’s either DH or LF for his 39 and 40 year old seasons. Would you pay a 40 year-old, 14 home run per season, out of position left fielder $25M? I would not. Cashman would not. Even Minka Kelly would not. Let’s say he pulls $50M/4, maybe $60M if it’s backloaded or reaches incentives based on games played in the field. That’s plenty, even for El Capitan.

      • JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

        There is no chance he is still playing starting shortstop on a WS winner in New York City at 40.

        Your psychic newsletter, I wish to subscribe.

        • hawkseye says:

          Jeter screwed a lot of things up when the Yankees traded for A-Rod(gold glove SS, uzr good) and would not shift positions. Jeter should have moved to 2B letting A-Rod play a great 2B. The Yankees could have even maybe signed a guy like Aramis Ramirez to play SS. Do you really think the Cubs would have outbid the Yanks on a guy like that. Just seems like Jeter was selfish staying at SS and not letting the team being better off. He obviously was not shifting postitions for personal financial reasons.

      • mike c says:

        exactly why damon in 2 years at LF makes sense :)

    • CountryClub says:

      As long as this year isnt a disaster, Jeter will get at least 19 mil per year for 4 or 5 years.

      And Mo will get 15 mil per yr.

      Neither player is taking a pay cut (when it comes to avg annual salary).

      • JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

        Five years? I think they’d prefer 2-3 but will max on four. Five should not be on the table, and it certainly won’t be for around $100 million.

        • CountryClub says:

          There’s no sense in arguing over this, because it’s so far off. But I think a lot of you are in for a rude awakening.

          I’m not saying he deserves 5 yrs at his age. But I think 4 will be the absolute minimum he gets (unless he wants to retire in 2 or 3 years – and his public comments make this seem unlikely).

          • JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

            No sense in arguing over this? This is RAB, we argue about all kinds of stupid stuff!

            I realize it’s a delicate situation—a lot of pride, money, marketing and PR attached to it—but I think Cashman, with the blessing of ownership, will stand strong and take a hard-line approach. The money is negotiable, the amount of years is not, etc.

            They know eventually they’ll have to cut ties with the core. We’re phenomenally lucky to have them all performing extremely well at their advanced ages; the Yankees know it will eventually end.

            You can’t have Mo, Jeter, A-Rod, Tex, Posada all on the payroll in four years knowing almost all of them will be at 40 or higher, making at least $15 million, and expecting them to perform even reasonably well.

            • CountryClub says:

              See, I think the exact opposite. I think this is one case will ownership will step in and make sure Jeter gets whatever he wants.

              Also, Posada willnot be back after 2011. Tex will only be 36 when his deal is up. And Mo will probably be on year to year deals. So, really, it will only be Arod and Jeter that us fans need to worry about (performance wise).

  2. Steve H says:

    Funny that $100 million contracts are hit or miss, but baseball’s first $1 billion guy will be an absolute steal. There is no proper way to assess Casey Kelly’s value, but $1 billion certainly isn’t enough.

    • Casey Kelly’s existence is the only reason baseball has never instituted a salary cap. If they had, he would be contractually unaffordable to all 30 big league teams and would likely have given up baseball altogether to concentrate on his real passion, singlehandedly ending all global wars and conflicts through his geopolitical wisdom, savvy, and unparalleled diplomatic skills. Were Ralph Bunche still alive today, I’m certain he’d give his Nobel Prize to Kelly on the spot for being such a better crisis negotiator.

      For Diamond Cutters, I’m Peter Gammons, ESPN.

  3. A.D. says:

    All in all most of those deals you’d sign up for again right now. Jury is out on Tex 2 & A-Rod 2 & Cabrera aging, but otherwise only Griffey was a real disappointments that couldn’t be predicted at the time of signing.

  4. Crazy how Arod has 2 $200mm contracts. Damn the Yankees could have had Arod for less than the amount on the second contract.

  5. NJY says:

    **Typo.. Vernon Wells wishes he hit .393 shit he wishes he could OBP .393 ha!

    • Steve H says:

      He can barely slug that these days. Didn’t Ricciardi come from the Billy Beane school of thought too? Brutal, between Wells/Rios/Ryan, those are 3 bombs.

      • pat says:

        Ryan was at least good for 2 years of his crontract. Wells is firmly entrenched in negative value and he hasn’t even started making the real cheddar yet.

        • Steve H says:

          Ryan was good for 2 years, but it was very predictable that he wouldn’t be for 4 years, at huge dollars, for a team likely resigned to 3rd or 4th place every year. Overpaying a closer for a middle of the pack team is the worst idea possible. Mariano Rivera would be useless for the KC Royals, even at $10 million/year.

          • pat says:

            Oh true, it was a terrible idea but if he didn’t have TJ he likely would have played up to the value of the contract. Obviously though as you said, having a top flight closer when everything else on your team is pretty bad is a waste of money, but not quite up to Vernon Wells’ standards.

          • Nobbyless Obligay says:

            Well, if the Royals have no use for a closer, they should give Soria away.

      • That deal was apparently done by the higher ups.

  6. A.D. says:

    I would be fun to do a pitchers version of this post, to see what’s likely to be less strong results as the hitters.

  7. Will says:

    “In the winter of 1999-2000, the two sides agreed to a seven-year, $118.5 million deal, which would have mean an AAV of $2 million less.”

    This probably worked out for the best. Had the Yankees only given him a 7-year deal at the time, he would have been a free agent at age 32 coming off his monster 2006 season. In that scenario, I could easily see him getting another long-term mega deal (let’s say 7 years/$140mn), so in the long run, the Yankees may wind up better off.

    • A.D. says:

      so in the long run, the Yankees may wind up better off.

      Perhaps, but they could have re-upped him them to 39-40 and avoided the awkwardness that will be next off season.

      That said, probably right.

  8. King George suddenly deciding he didn’t want to give Jeter that deal was so dumb. It should never have turned into that fiasco.

  9. Oh and you can blame Ricciardi for a lot of things (like the Alex Rios contract which was just bad, not terrible) but not Vernon Wells’ contract. Ownership stepped in themselves there and that never goes well as you can see from many of the items on this list.

  10. pat says:

    I can see jeter’s next deal involving some sort of token partial ownership of the team or something. Maybe a 1 or 2% stake with a little wink wink agreement that he’d never sell it. Please, just anything to keep from giving him 4 or more years.

    • CountryClub says:

      He’s getting at least 4 years; so start preparing yourself now.

    • the artist formerly known as (sic) says:

      no, thats never going to happen.

    • JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

      They’ll buy him a Ford dealership instead of offering the fourth year.

      Oh wait…

    • huuz says:

      has that EVER happened? i think owners are highly reluctant to start giving away pieces of the ownership pie in player contracts…

      • pat says:

        True, but this isn’t just any player. Has any one player in sports ever been more closely associated with his team than Derek Jeter is to the Yankees? He is everything the interlocking NY stands for (wipes tears away) DEREK JETER IS THE YANKEES.

        No but seriously, I really don’t want to go more than three. I’ll do just about anything.

    • Thomas says:

      I may be wrong, but I don’t think you can give a player ownership in the team. I believe major league baseball banned stuff like that after Ted Turner decide to manage a game for the Braves and the commissioner was afraid more owners would do similar activities as publicity, etc (they at least banned principle owners from managing). I am not sure if this applies to players, but I would assume so.

  11. JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

    The sad thing is, Jeter won’t be great forever. In fact, I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see him decline markedly within two years. If he’s looking to chase the all-time hits record, we’ll have to pull the plug. The team comes above the player.

    I’m not sentimental; I’d rather let Jeter go on iffy terms than see a dude at 41, with little power, speed or defensive prowess, struggling at the plate because of record envy.

    Four years at the absolute max.

    • mike c says:

      jeter’s exactly the kind of guy who would admit it when he feels that he can no longer be the kind of player the yankees need. he has carte blanche IMO

      • Steve H says:

        If that were the case then he should have no problem taking a Wakefield type of contract, 1 year at a time, right?

        • A.D. says:

          No one should ever take that type of contract, an agent should never negotiate that for his client

          • Steve H says:

            Totally agree, but it was the counterargument to Jeter being “exactly the kind of guy who would admit it when he feels that he can no longer be the kind of player the yankees need.”

        • mike c says:

          that would be a slap in the face. wakefield a old knuckleballer, not the captain of the yankees

          • Steve H says:

            So if they sign Jeter to a 5 year/$100 million contract, and after 2 years Jeter is hitting .250/.320/.380 and can’t field, is he walking away from the the remaining $60 million because he is no longer the kind of player the Yankees need?

            • mike c says:

              no, but my point is, if he doesn’t think he can do 5 years, he won’t. he doesn’t want to be a washed-up player getting big bucks and bringing down the team. if that’s the case, i would imagine he’d take 3-4 and do 1-2 years more if he wants to at the end of the deal.

              • Steve H says:

                If that’s the case, than Jeter is different than 99.999999% of all athletes. Jeter likely thinks he can play 10 more years and will want the longest contract possible at the highest dollar amount.

        • Ed says:

          Not necessarily. I’d take a comment like that to mean that Jeter would walk away from a contract if he couldn’t perform. A Wakefield contract is just ridiculously underselling yourself.

      • JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

        Hmm…I see the opposite. Jeter’s a tough read, but when it comes down to it, after his next contract he could be fairly close to the hits record. I think if he is within striking distance, he’ll play marginal baseball for a few years to get that record.

    • Thomas says:

      I agree. At a certain point, the team has to cut ties with a player, if they don’t think the player can perform.

    • CountryClub says:

      I wouldn’t be shocked to see him hitting .300+ with a .360+ obp at 40. The fact that he’s not a power hitter will probably allow him to age better than a lot of his peers (actually, it already has).

      • pat says:

        He has a slump proof swing!

      • JMK aka The Overshare's Excessive Back Hair Complex says:

        Yeah, it’s possible. Is that worth the risk and the AAV?

        If he were an architect or a school teacher, he’d be in his prime. But he’s not. The risk outweighs the reward, in my opinion. Throwing around $20 million on a 40-year old position player is generally a terrible idea.

        We’re already playing with fire expecting a 37-year-old to match his defensive output from last year (a career best at 36?). I don’t know if he’ll even be near a passable SS when he signs the next deal. Also, to expect anyone to hit .300 and OBP .360 at age 40 is dangerous thinking, even though it has happened.

        Part of the reason Jeter’s value is so high is because he plays one of, if not arguably, the most critical defensive positions. You take that away and any name at 40, 41 who can only DH (which is the assumption I’ll take for this statement) and hit .300/.360 with low power is worth less than half of $20 million.

        • CountryClub says:

          A lot of this is true. But I don’t think any of it will matter. The Yankees will not let Jeter walk away over money. It’s not going to happen. Some of us might not like it…and I’m sure some will scream bloody murder, but Jeter will get a deal from the Yankees that nobody else in baseball would ever come close to matching. Just like Arod did.

          • Steve H says:

            No, they won’t let him walk over money, but if the highest contract on the open market is 3/$50, give him 3/$55, not 5/$100.

            When my groceries ring up at $75, I pay $75. No point in paying $125 for $75 worth of groceries.

            • Hal Corleone: We’ll give you 3 years and 55 million. That’s our final offer.
              Jetes: Hank, I have Jennifer Love Hewitt’s number here in my cellphone. I give her a call, she’ll be here within the hour. Are you willing to reconsider that final offer?
              Big Bank Hank: We’ll give you 6 years and 120 million. That’s our final offer.

              … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

  12. JGS says:

    I’m convinced that Ricciardi is going to kidnap Wells’ family to force him to exercise his post-2011 opt out clause

  13. Mike P says:

    Minor issue that I’m sensitive to (it’s a common mistake):

    The backloading of Wells’ contract is actually the best thing about it. As long as the Jays project their payroll forward and plan accordingly, it is always better to pay in the future than the present.

    • pat says:

      I may be taking the simpleton approach, but at some point Well’s future salary is going to become the present, no? So after next year they’re going to have the stark and horrid prospect of paying that man over 20 million a year for 5 years.

    • Steve H says:

      Ehh, I can see it both ways. They are 100% stuck with it, and will have to pay the rest of their roster less and less because it’s dragging them down. At the very least, if it was frontloaded they could just rip it off like a bandaid and buy him out or trade him and pay a ton.

      • Mike P says:

        No because they had a lower payroll earlier in his contract, enabling them to invest the dollars. The return on those dollars over the course of the contract means that they save money by paying him more later.

        • Chris says:

          I disagree. The added flexibility of having a lower payroll in the future (when a player is expected to decline) is pretty valuable. Sure, it would be a lower net cost in present day dollars, but you’re also taking more of a risk that he will remain healthy and productive at the end of the deal and the team will have an increasing revenue stream.

          The bottom line is that if a team feels they need to backload a deal that much to be able to afford it, then they shouldn’t make the deal in the first place.

          • Mike P says:

            Same argument as below and above really:

            As long as the team plans according to the deal, the time value of money makes backloading cheaper. If you pay rodriguez 111k for the first nine years of the contract and then 274 million in the last year you’re better off. But in doing that you decide to have a 180 million dollar payroll instead of 200 million for the next few years to fund your liability.

      • A.D. says:

        Net in net its a sunk cost, the can still rip it off like a band-aid and buy him our or eat the money and trade him, its a guaranteed contract, there is no way around it.

        However if you look over the lifetime of the contract 20 mil in 2007 is worth more than 20 mil in 2013, so you pay someone less when its backloaded, plus over time team salaries generally go up, because again 100M today worth less than 100M in a few years, so in inflation adjusted dollars they may be spending the same, thus he’s likely making the same or less percent of overall team salary thus, potentially less of drag.

        The rest is really just accounting or perception and depends on how an ownership group runs a budget, it could make sense in a few given circumstances to frontload, say if a GM knew a teams ownership won’t go over XXX dollars per year, and they have a bunch of young players coming into arb/off first 6 years, in the coming years, but are bargains now, so they can offset the frontload, then use the money later to fit the kids under the budget…but that’s more lack of ownership willing to be felxible with a budget, as the better plan would be to backload, save the money, and sign the same players.

        Net in net, backloading is always cheaper due to the time value of money

  14. Mike HC says:

    Really enjoyed this one. It seems like 100 million dollar players are a pretty safe bet. Soriano and Wells each have a chance to live up to their contract in the coming years. The Griffey deal seems to be the biggest loser, only because I personally believe Soriano and Wells will bounce back.

    • A.D. says:

      The Griffey deal seems to be the biggest loser

      Pretty much, and much of that was just a rash of injuries that couldn’t be expected

    • Chris says:

      The Griffey deal wasn’t as bad as it seems. He put up the following line during that contract: .269/.361/.510/.871 121 OPS+

      For $12.5M per year? That’s not bad, even if he did average only 110 games per season.

      • Mike HC says:

        missing 50 games per season, while putting up very good, but not great numbers, is not worth 100 million in my opinion. I think Soriano is a pretty safe bet to assume he will continue to produce, albeit with pretty bad defense. Wells seems like by far the worst contract right now, but I think he still has the chance to have a couple more very good years and play a solid CF. If he does not, then Wells is the clear loser.

        • Chris says:

          I disagree with your opinion on Griffey. The $100M price tag is misleading because it was spread over 8 seasons. He only made $12.5M per year – that’s less than Damon or Matsui made in their last deals. The Griffey deal certainly wasn’t a good deal, but it’s not as bad as people seem to believe.

          • Steve H says:

            And it was a below market deal. He could have gotten much much more had he opened himself up to any team. He wanted to stay home and gave them a bargain.

          • Mike HC says:

            fair enough. I see what you are saying. But, I think a big factor is that the guy takes the field everyday. If you can’t count on a guy you gave over 100 million for 8 years guaranteed to stay on the field, it is not a good deal.

            I do get that if you look at the cold hard stats of the aav with the production it is not a bad deal. I just personally weigh the unknown with the injuries and not really being able to trust him to stay on the field heavier than you.

    • Soriano and Wells each have a chance to live up to their contract in the coming years.

      Yet, neither of them show any trendlines or indicators that they can actually do that.

      • Chris says:

        Soriano looks bad because he had a really really bad season last year. If he can return to his 2007/2008 performance then he’ll make the deal not too bad.

        Wells I think has no hope.

        • Steve H says:

          Ehh, even if he returns to a 120 OPS+, he’s not nearly worth his deal. #1, that’s decent offense not great, and his defense is so terrible that it drives him way down. He’d have to ops+ 150 or so to even come close to earning that deal.

          • Chris says:

            In 2007/2008 he was worth $38M or roughly $19M per season. The most that his contract will pay him is $18.5M per season.

            In order for him to live up to his contract, two things have to happen:

            1. He has to return to his 2007/2008 offensive numbers

            2. His horrible defense has to be fixed by his knee surgery

            I think item 1 is pretty likely. I have no idea on how likely item 2 is, but it’s certainly possible. He probably won’t live up to his contract, but I think he’ll come closer than most people expect.

      • Mike HC says:

        I think Soriano is a pretty safe bet to assume he still has some monster years left. He just had a down year last year, but still produced some.

        Wells is clearly more of a long shot.

        And as to trends and indicators, not that I want to start a whole thing about PED’s, but I can see where some guys will get the big contract, maybe take a year or two off from abusing their bodies with PED’s, and then maybe get back on them to bring their production back. I’m not saying that is the case with these guys, but maybe. Or maybe I am saying that is the case, I don’t know.

        • Zack says:

          I dont think a 34 year old coming off surgery and his worst year is a ‘pretty safe bet’ to have more monster years left in his body

    • Steve H says:

      Why do you believe Soriano and Wells will bounce back?

      • Mike HC says:

        Because I think hitters will be able to keep up their production into their mid to late thirties. I think technology has advanced to the point where the modern athlete will have a longer shelf life than their predecessors. So, the fact that they have had a down year or two while in their 30′s, does not necessarily mean it is a decline. I just take it as down years, which they will likely bounce back from.

        • Steve H says:

          Wells has a career 107 OPS+. So he’s going to bounce back to being a league average player but for $20 million/year.

          • Mike HC says:

            Yes, but Wells has been inconsistent his entire career. He does not consistently put up a 107 OPS+, but gets there will good years and bad years. Just because he had a bad year, where he still hit 15 homers and stole 17 bases, ops of .460, does not mean we will never have a good year again, in my opinion. It just continues his inconsistency, which is the player the Blue Jays signed.

            I’m not saying it is a good deal, just saying that Wells can still be the player he was when he signed the deal, inconsistent, good years and bad years.

  15. mryankee says:

    Why would Jeter and Mo not take pay cuts? they have been very well paid throughout their careers. They know the lesser money they make the mor ethe team will have to spend on other players?

    • CountryClub says:

      Come on, man. It just doesnt work that way. Jeter and Mo both just arguably had the best yr of their careers. Assuming neither one falls off a cliff this yr, they won’t (and shouldnt) take a pay cut when it comes to the avg annual salary.

      • mryankee says:

        I am not saying they should make like 1 mill a year or anything. It would be coo if they both decided to take team friendly deals. They would still make millions upon millions. How much more money do established players like them need?

      • mryankee says:

        Example is Jeter going to be hurting if he gets paid at 3 years and 10 mill a year?

        • Steve H says:

          That’s not what it’s about. These guys have the biggest ego’s in the world, that’s part of what makes them world class athletes. Julio Lugo makes $9/million a year, Derek Jeter will not play for $10 million knowing that, even if he never needs to make another dime in his life, he would not play if he was making only $1 mil more than Julio Lugo.

        • Neil B. says:

          Look, the basic premise behind your comments is nice – it *would* be nice if players put the team ahead of them so much so that they’d be willing to take pretty big paycuts (despite continuing to play at elite levels) because they’ve already made plenty of money and because they want the team to spend money elsewhere.

          But the reality is that every player is looking to make at least their market value, and if Jeter and Mo don’t do that they’re literally the only 2 people in baseball who wouldn’t be doing that. Athletes’ careers can end any day, so it’s in their best interests to make as much guaranteed money as possible – and in the case of Jeter and Mo, who have already made a ton, why take paycuts when they don’t have to (and when no one else in their position would)?

        • Will he be hurting? No, of course not.

          He’s not going to do something just because he “won’t be hurting”, though.

    • Thomas says:

      Using the same logic, you could argue Rivera and Jeter have won a lot of games and WS. Thus, they can afford to have losing seasons (because they are on bad team where they get paid a high percentage of the payroll) and not tarnish the legacy, while getting paid a ton.

      While it would be great for either or both of Rivera and Jeter to take very team friendly contracts, it is unlikely.

    • Zack says:

      Because we’re not the KANSAS CITY ROYALS, what does Jeter giving back 5m a year going to get the team that has a 200m payroll?

    • Why would Jeter and Mo not take pay cuts?

      Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? Fuck you, pay me.

  16. Rose says:

    Wells posted a stellar 2006 season, hitting .393/.357/.542, a 129 OPS+, while playing a good center field.

    He batted .393 in 2006??? My my my…

  17. A.D. says:

    The next closest contract to not make this list would be Piazza’s 90 something million deal with the Mets. Helped pave the way for 100M dollar deals

  18. A.D. says:

    Also this Sporcle game seems appropriate (safe)


  19. Recent and soon forthcoming additions to this list:
    Matt Holliday
    Joe Mauer
    Adrian Gonzalez
    Jose Reyes?
    Ryan Howard?
    Prince Fielder?

    (Kudos to the Brewers, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Rays, Red Sox, and Rockies for locking up Braun, HanRam, Wright, Zimmerman, Markakis, Utley, Longoria, Youkilis, and Tulowitski to medium-range contracts to prevent their names from possibly being on the above list… for a few more years, at least.)

  20. David in Cal says:

    How much could Jeter get from another team at the end of 2010? Assuming he’s considered to be too old to play SS, I’m thinking he could get something like 2 years at $10 or $11 million per year. The Yanks should offer a bit more than this — say 2 years at $13 to $15 million per year or 3 years at $11 or $12 million per year. That’s more than enough to ensure that he’ll re-up with the Yanks.

    If they pay him something like $20 million per year, they will have to weaken the team in other areas.

  21. Ace says:

    How does Barry Zito not rank #1 on this list?

  22. AndrewYF says:

    Why does Giambi’s contract rank over Teixeira’s? Is it because Teixeira could suffer a catastrophic injury to his arms, legs and back next season and become Miguel Cairo?

  23. Dan says:

    Caught an error… You said Arod won all three of his MVPs after 2003 and his shift to 3B… Arod won his first MVP in 2003 while playing SS for the Rangers… Here’s the simple way to remember it… every odd # year ARod goes into God Mode… MVP in 2003, 2005, 2007… Insane playoffs in 2009… Im already looking forward to 2011.

    • Dave says:

      Didn’t you hear? Baseball’s installing a patch in 2010 to fix the God Mode cheat. A-Rod and Josh Beckett are going to get hit hard.

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