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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Keri/Grantland: Baseball’s Worst Contracts

A little schadenfreude is good for everyone.

Bad deals are inescapable in sports and pop culture. Endless, exorbitant, ridiculous contracts can destroy a team’s future, ensnare a rising young star, or cripple a major studio. Also, they’re hilarious. In honor of these horrible agreements, we present a look at some of the most egregious in their respective fields. Welcome to Worst Contracts Week.

Chris Fluit Posted: February 12, 2014 at 11:10 AM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: albert pujols, alex rodriguez, angels, contracts, grantland, jonah keri, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4655467)
I know he's been retired for several years, but I still feel like Darren Dreifort should be on this list.
   2. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4655477)
I'm thinking the headline should begin with

Grantland/Keri

or

Grantland/user/Keri

or

Keri@Grantland

Regards.
   3. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4655478)
I know he's been retired for several years, but I still feel like Chan Ho Park should be on this list.
   4. BDC Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4655486)
I have a feeling Nelson Cruz is fixing to join the list sometime today.
   5. Davo Dozier Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4655487)
I was surprised the Pujols deal was not considered the worst.
   6. jmurph Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4655488)
Hmmm, I think I'd put Pujols number 1.

EDIT: cokes etc. to Davo
   7. Dale Sams Posted: February 12, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4655492)
Adrian Gonzalez is "Already a poor defender"? News to me.

And I'd have given Jake Peavy a dishonorable mention as well.
   8. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4655498)
I think BJ Upton has a little bounce back in him. Dan Uggla is toast.
   9. Davo Dozier Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4655499)
I think BJ Upton has a little bounce back in him. Dan Uggla is toast.

Yep. Uggla has only ever been good at one thing (hitting homers), and now that he can't do that anymore, he's toast.

Upton has always had a very diverse skill-set; you'd expect a guy like that to be able to bounce back more easily than a one-dimensional player.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4655516)

And I'd have given Jake Peavy a dishonorable mention as well.

Contracts with neutral or positive trade value generally don't make 'Worst Contract' lists.
   11. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4655531)
Nice to see Crawford at 9, Gonzalez at 15, and Beckett with a dishonorable mention. But hey, Nick Punto produced positive value for his contract last year!
   12. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 12, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4655544)
Nice to see Crawford at 9, Gonzalez at 15, and Beckett with a dishonorable mention. But hey, Nick Punto produced positive value for his contract last year!


Don't the Red Sox haters now have to hate the Dodgers by proxy, even more?
   13. smileyy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4655566)
[2] You mean Grantland/~Keri/
   14. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4655576)
I guess Zito is done? Or hoping to hook up with a team at spring training? Or what?
That was a historically bad contract that (thanks to stuff like the Pujols and ARod deals) seems to be mostly forgotten already.
   15. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4655587)
[14] Not saying the Zito deal was non-terrible, but he had quite the postseason in 2012.
   16. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4655608)
I would quibble a bit about those rankings. I think most of the deals with 1 year left are too high. There is only so much paying Chad Billingsly 15m this year can hurt you. There is no way there isn't at least 15m of dead money on Crawford's deal. The Dodgers could cut Billingsly yesterday, and it would be a much better deal than CC.

And there is a non-zero chance they actually get some value out of him, when he returns, since he is actually a good pitcher when healthy.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:40 PM (#4655624)
I was surprised the Pujols deal was not considered the worst.

Thirded. No matter how bad ARod is going forward it's only $61M.

Pujols contract is assured to be at least worth -61M, and could be worth -$200M.

Put another way, I don't think the Angels could trade Pujols by eating only $60M of his contract.
   18. Karl from NY Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4655628)

Alfonso Soriano is available.

Cot's says the Cubs still owe him $14M for this year!
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4655638)
Cot's says the Cubs still owe him $14M for this year!


Yea, Vernon Wells should really be on this list (I know he explicitly says Vernon is not included because he's not on a roster). He's getting paid $22 million to stay home.
   20. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4655641)
Another vote for Albert #1.
   21. Moeball Posted: February 12, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4655720)
Another vote for Albert #1.


Question - was the signing of Albert used as a bargaining chip by Moreno to increase the amount of the new TV deal? Perhaps he knew he had to sign Albert no matter the cost to ensure the best possible TV revenue package, and the additional benefits from the TV package would way more than offset the costs sunk into Albert? Just wondering...
   22. Mark S. is bored Posted: February 12, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4655793)
I know he's been retired for several years, but I still feel like Bobby Bonilla should be on this list. Especially since the Mets are still paying him. (Yes I know they're not counting deferred contracts, but it's 2014 and the Mets are still paying Bobby Bonilla for 20 more years)
   23. Walt Davis Posted: February 12, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4655798)
Agree wtih #16 but I'd go farther than "quibble." 2/$17? Who cares? Even Uggla at 2/$26 is such a trivial amount by baseball standards that its terribleness is in the rear view mirror.

The list also seems too volatile given the number of ones that were not on last year's list (NR). Is Keri going too much on 2013 results? The Fielder contract was one of the worst on the day it was signed but only made it this year? Uggla was not on last year's list but is on this year's with one less year on the contract?

And how is Upton at 4/$60 a worse contract than Crawford at 4/$82? Is that strictly based on team payroll effects?

While he's certainly deserving of being on the list, I wouldn't write off Pujols just yet. Everything Keri writes about Pujols would have been written about Thomas entering his age 34 season. Thomas was mediocre at 30 and 31, had a big year at 32 but then got hurt at 33. He went on to post a 131 OPS+ with 15 WAR from 34-40. We can't project 15 WAR for Pujols and it's not worth $220 M anyway but, if he can get healthy, I expect him to return to being a 140ish OPS+ hitter. If he can't get healthy then he probably is on the late ARod career path.
   24. Dale Sams Posted: February 12, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4655838)
So...*how* is AGon one of the worst contracts in baseball? His stats last year and this year are almost identical. He averages about 159 games a year. And has pretty much held his value the last two years.

Because he's getting older? He isn't ancient FFS.
   25. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: February 12, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4655840)
C'mon Dan Uggla dead cat bounce!
   26. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4655843)
I'm looking forward to landing Pujols in my AL-only league this year. I think everyone will avoid.
   27. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: February 12, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4655850)
How about Mike Trout. He has produced 80 million in value (at 4 million per win) while only getting paid 1 million.

Why is a contract bad if it costs the owners more than the value of the player?
   28. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 12, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4655852)
Bit of an odd list. The thing that jumps at me is the one year deals (I'll second that it is almost impossible for those deals to be truly bad) and the comment about Gonzalez being "paid like a superstar." What is the going rate for a win these days? Isn't it up to $6 mil or something like that? If Gonzo is a 3.5 win player that makes it worthwhile.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4655853)
A few things, evaluating a multi-year contract in the middle of it, by judging how bad the remainder of the years matter, shows an incredible ignorance about how and why players are signed for what they are. (he didn't list the Cabrera contract in the final fifteen, but talked about it, and was focusing on the remaining years while not acknowledging the production they got from the early years on it.) A long term contract is ABSOLUTELY 100% signed with the knowledge that the last year or two is effectively deferred money for the player.


Agree with Walt and disagree with Walt (in post 23) Agree that it's too early to judge the Pujols contract, disagree that the Fielder contract was one of the worst at the time of the signing. I fully expect Albert to be a driving force for the Angels this year and probably the next two years.

The article glosses over a teams ability to sign a player to a big contract because of their personal finances. I think that teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, etc can afford to overpay for a player provided he at least provides positive value. Crawford might have health issues, but he is effectively the same player he was when he signed the original contract, putting up a 108 ops+(vs a career ops+ of 105) with a little loss in speed. A full season and he's probably a 2.5 war player and that is probably on the low side of a prediction for him.


So...*how* is AGon one of the worst contracts in baseball? His stats last year and this year are almost identical. He averages about 159 games a year. And has pretty much held his value the last two years.


He's not....this article uses strictly opinion of the writer on it's evaluation and I'm guessing he just doesn't like anyone who is over 30...there is no rationale for his rankings. He's getting 20 mil a year and had 4 war last year. That is entirely in line with the value of a 20Mil contract, the previous two seasons hurt the value of the contract, but there is no indication that his performance has dropped.

   30. Nasty Nate Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4655856)
A few things, evaluating a multi-year contract in the middle of it, by judging how bad the remainder of the years matter, shows an incredible ignorance about how and why players are signed for what they are. (he didn't list the Cabrera contract in the final fifteen, but talked about it, and was focusing on the remaining years while not acknowledging the production they got from the early years on it.) A long term contract is ABSOLUTELY 100% signed with the knowledge that the last year or two is effectively deferred money for the player.


You are talking about a different thing. The list is judging a contract where it is this exact moment as an asset/liability to the team. You are talking about evaluating a contract in toto.
   31. Karl from NY Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:07 PM (#4655861)
A long term contract is ABSOLUTELY 100% signed with the knowledge that the last year or two is effectively deferred money for the player.

This is absolutely true, but why? Why do both GMs and players pretend or actually think that aging curves and decline phases don't exist?
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4655864)

This is absolutely true, but why? Why do both GMs and players pretend or actually think that aging curves and decline phases don't exist?


Players get the guaranteed money, and teams get the players for those last few years when they might be productive. Just because an aging star is not worth the AAV of his long-term contract doesn't mean he is useless.

Also, teams are counting on some of the player's individual years in the contract to contribute more value than the AAV.
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4655866)
You are talking about a different thing. The list is judging a contract where it is this exact moment as an asset/liability to the team. You are talking about evaluating a contract in toto.


I don't think you can reasonably ignore the life of the contract. Players are signed with the team fully knowing that in the end the player isn't going to be worth the amount of money they are being paid. Even though teams pay for "war" on a linear basis, talent is not linear, and in order to make up for that while still keeping the money reasonable, they give out longer terms to players who for sure won't be worth it in the end. To judge the end of the contract, just shows a complete and utter lack of comprehension of how baseball contracts work.

Personally I don't think this article is talking about anything in any reasonable manner. As pointed out calling the Adrian Gonzalez contract bad right now is utterly ridiculous. Same with the Crawford one. And as others have pointed out these 13mil a year contracts are not really that big of a deal in the long run. (I mean seriously 7mil a year for Ricky Romero? that is pocket change)



I like the point that post 27 made....why is a bad contract only ever talked about from the view of the owners?

   34. cardsfanboy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4655869)
This is absolutely true, but why? Why do both GMs and players pretend or actually think that aging curves and decline phases don't exist?


Nate answered it pretty well.

A long term contract is signed knowing the player won't be worth the money at the end. This is effectively deferred money, with the hope that the player will be productive enough to keep in the lineup (and maybe cash in on some milestones) at the end to not hurt the team. If you look at any of the studies done on pay, players are generally paid fairly consistently on a linear basis relative to war (1 war = 5mil or something to that effect) the problem is that talent isn't linear a five war player is much scarcer than a 4 war player to the point that paying linear isn't effectively paying the player their value vs their supply. But at the same time, teams can't really afford to pay a 6+ war player their true value, so they defer the money by signing them longer than they will be good. That money in the end of the contract is money that wasn't paid at the beginning, that is all they are doing.
   35. Nasty Nate Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4655870)

I don't think you can reasonably ignore the life of the contract.


If you are ranking contracts in terms of their trade value, the part of the contract that has already happened is completely irrelevant. E.G. The Rangers would not have cared if Prince Fielder had earned $100 million in 2012-13 instead of $48 million - they were not trading for that part of the contract.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4655873)
While he's certainly deserving of being on the list, I wouldn't write off Pujols just yet. Everything Keri writes about Pujols would have been written about Thomas entering his age 34 season. Thomas was mediocre at 30 and 31, had a big year at 32 but then got hurt at 33. He went on to post a 131 OPS+ with 15 WAR from 34-40. We can't project 15 WAR for Pujols and it's not worth $220 M anyway but, if he can get healthy, I expect him to return to being a 140ish OPS+ hitter. If he can't get healthy then he probably is on the late ARod career path.

So, your best case scenario is an abysmal contract? $220M for 15 WAR is putrid.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4655877)
If you are ranking contracts in terms of their trade value, the part of the contract that has already happened is completely irrelevant. E.G. The Rangers would not have cared if Prince Fielder had earned $100 million in 2012-13 instead of $48 million - they were not trading for that part of the contract.


Ok, I do see that part. But again ignoring a bigger teams ability to pay for it, which is what this article does, is really not a good way to evaluate it. The Dodgers have plus players they got from the Red Sox because they were willing to over pay for these players. Nobody thinks Crawford or Gonzalez are poor players. Both are above average still and have the bounce back potential to be good players. A bad contract for the Pirates may not be a bad contract for the Phillies.
   38. God Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4655880)
Adrian Gonzalez is "Already a poor defender"? News to me.


Not sure what the numbers say, but watching him play 140 games in 2013, I would agree that he's not very good. His reactions are just too slow now. Guys like Dee Gordon got a lot of errors they otherwise wouldn't have because Adrian now has problems with short-hop throws. He did get better as the year went on, though. He was absolutely atrocious defensively in April and May, but he improved to the point where he was serviceable out there by the end of the season. Not sure what was going on with him.
   39. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4655881)
Not sure what the numbers say, but watching him play 140 games in 2013, I would agree that he's not very good. His reactions are just too slow now. Guys like Dee Gordon got a lot of errors they otherwise wouldn't have because Adrian now has problems with short-hop throws. He did get better as the year went on, though. He was absolutely atrocious defensively in April and May, but he improved to the point where he was serviceable out there by the end of the season. Not sure what was going on with him.


That's shocking to me. He was fantastic with the Red Sox, I wonder what happened. It seems like an odd thing to ask about a first baseman but how is his arm? Not a big part of a first baseman's game but he had a strong and accurate arm when he needed it with the Sox.
   40. God Posted: February 12, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4655885)
His arm has been fine. Everything else, though...

EDIT: Adrian's defense was actually one of the weirder aspects of the 2013 Dodger season. For years I'd been watching this guy play for other teams and he looked like he was really good with the glove. Then he joins the team I actually pay attention to and all of a sudden he turns into Adam Dunn. Errors aren't everything, but Gonzalez made 11 errors last year. He made the same number of errors in the first two months of 2013 (7) as he'd made the entire previous two seasons combined. But like I said, it wasn't even the errors so much as the limited range and inability to scoop throws in the dirt.
   41. Natty Fan Posted: February 12, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4655896)
Keri ranked Jayson Werth #4 on last year's inaugural list. This year, Werth isn't even listed among the (dis)honorable mentions. Granted, Werth has almost made up for his awful 2011 season, but to think that the $83 million the Nats will pay for his age 35-38 seasons is now considered "not terrible" -- man, there are some really bad contracts out there.
   42. cardsfanboy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 07:22 PM (#4655905)
EDIT: Adrian's defense was actually one of the weirder aspects of the 2013 Dodger season. For years I'd been watching this guy play for other teams and he looked like he was really good with the glove. Then he joins the team I actually pay attention to and all of a sudden he turns into Adam Dunn. Errors aren't everything, but Gonzalez made 11 errors last year. He made the same number of errors in the first two months of 2013 (7) as he'd made the entire previous two seasons combined. But like I said, it wasn't even the errors so much as the limited range and inability to scoop throws in the dirt.


Rfield liked him quite a bit, 11 runs saved. Fangraphs have him as 6.5 runs by uzr/150.

   43. zenbitz Posted: February 12, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4655911)
In before NO MORE ZITO!
   44. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 12, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4655918)
I guess Zito is done? Or hoping to hook up with a team at spring training? Or what?
That was a historically bad contract that (thanks to stuff like the Pujols and ARod deals) seems to be mostly forgotten already.


The Giants won two World Series during the Zito contract. Yeah, other than the great 2012 postseason that #15 mentions Zito didn't contribute much to those but two championships is about the best you can reasonably expect in a seven year period. It's unlikely that Zito's contract will be remembered much in the long run like a bad contract on a team that fails will be.
   45. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: February 12, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4655919)
Nobody thinks Crawford or Gonzalez are poor players. Both are above average still and have the bounce back potential to be good players.


I can line up a number of people who will tell you that Carl Crawford is not an above-average player.
   46. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 12, 2014 at 07:59 PM (#4655922)
I guess Zito is done? Or hoping to hook up with a team at spring training? Or what?
That was a historically bad contract that (thanks to stuff like the Pujols and ARod deals) seems to be mostly forgotten already.


The Giants won two World Series during the Zito contract. Yeah, other than the great 2012 postseason that #15 mentions Zito didn't contribute much to those but two championships is about the best you can reasonably expect in a seven year period. It's unlikely that Zito's contract will be remembered much in the long run like a bad contract on a team that fails will be.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: February 12, 2014 at 08:07 PM (#4655926)
Why is a contract bad if it costs the owners more than the value of the player?

In fairness -- and this relates to a lot of the other comments -- Keri does say he is focusing on tradability. That's just a somewhat silly way to evaluate some of these contracts. I mean it's pretty likely that Uggla will return zero value the next two seasons and thus is untradeable almost no matter how much money the Braves might eat. The same may be true of League or Broxton (probably neither is quite that bad). But the wasted money in those contracts is, in the scheme of things, trivial at this point.

If you look at any of the studies done on pay, players are generally paid fairly consistently on a linear basis relative to war (1 war = 5mil or something to that effect)

No longer true thankfully. :-) There was an article a month or two ago (HBT, fangraphs, somewhere) which used what certainly sounded like a better method.

The $5-6 M per WAR number is based on studies that looked at only the first year of FA contracts. For the long-term ones especially, that's when the player is most productive (on average). The newer study looked at contracts over their entire life. That gives an estimate around $7 M (in today's dollars I suppose -- one of the issues with the study) per WAR. That number, especially if combined with NPV, seems much more consistent with how much these guys are paid, at least on the long-term contracts.

At a 5% discount rate, Cano's 10/$240 comes out to about $185 M in NPV. At $7 M per WAR, that's about 26-27 WAR. 26-27 WAR is right around my comp-based guesstimate of Cano's remaining value. ZiPS I believe put it around 30. Ellsbury comes out to an NPV around $127 -- 18 WAR was about my guesstimate for him (which surprised me).

The vast majority of Cano's and Ellsbury's remaining career WAR will most likely be produced in the next 4 years and the end of their contracts will be "terrible." But a world where teams project total remaining WAR, figure out how much that is worth, then defer as much of that cost as they can makes a lot more sense than one in which teams are regularly paying guys $100 M more than they're worth.

Doesn't make things like ARod's or Pujols' very long contracts through their early 40s any smarter necessarily.

On Fielder -- he produced only 17 WAR in 5 full seasons in Milw and had produced less than 2 WAR in 2 of the previous 4 years. I don't see how he could have been projected to better than an expected 15-20 WAR over the remainder of his career with a huge collapse risk. His defense was already in the toilet and he's not an athletic type of player to put it mildly. He was younger than Cano but if 10/240 was a bad idea for Cano the 9/214 had to be a terrible idea. The NPV on Fielder's contract was about $169 so even at $7/WAR that's 24 projected WAR. Wasn't very likely to happen. Note, something like Hamilton's contract would have been about right for Fielder -- he was (and still is I suspect) a perfectly decent bet to produce at the 3-4 WAR level through his early 30s and a "fair" price for that production is in the range of $20-25 M a year.



   48. cardsfanboy Posted: February 12, 2014 at 08:30 PM (#4655933)
I can line up a number of people who will tell you that Carl Crawford is not an above-average player.


Okay. I meant to say "Anybody who knows anything about baseball."

I mean in St Louis I can find people who think Holliday is not an above average player. Stupid people believe what they want. I don't expect them to have the ability to actually find a place like bbtf.
   49. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: February 12, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4655965)
So what were the best contracts? I gotta think Randy Johnson is right up there. 4 years with an option for a 5th, $65 mil with the option exercised, 4 CYAs, 40 WAR, 1 title.
   50. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM (#4655989)
*how* is AGon one of the worst contracts in baseball?


Are you still in denial about this? I find this shocking. The man is done as an elite hitter, is a nothing on the basepaths, and will be 32 this season. I find it bizarre how totally incapable some people are of looking at Adrian Gonzalez rationally.
   51. Walt Davis Posted: February 12, 2014 at 11:37 PM (#4656024)
The man is done as an elite hitter

OK but whose WAR you gonna believe.

By bWAR, he was still worth 4 WAR. That's not dancing in the streets good for $22 M but it's far from "done". But much of that is +11 in Rfield, it was not elite hitting (2.8 oWAR).

By fWAR, he was worth only 3 WAR. They still see him as good defensively but only +6. Also, for whatever reason, their positional penalty is 3 runs worse than bWAR, they also dock him 2 more runs for baserunning. They see him as equal offensively.

So small differences in the waffly bits, stick it in the middle somewhere and call it 3.5. Players that good don't usually fall off cliffs immediately in their early 30s so he's probably good for 7-9 WAR over the next three years.

So bad contract from this point but not yet a disaster and still a useful player. I'll agree it's probably in the top 15 but I'd much rather have this one (5/$106 left) than the full Fielder contract (7/$168) and probably even with the Tigers money (which was $30 M I think). As I've noted in other threads, were I the Rangers, I think I'd rather have just shifted Kinsler to 1B.
   52. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 12, 2014 at 11:43 PM (#4656025)
So what were the best contracts?


Vladamir Guerrero with the Angels, although that was in part due to the market making a drastic increase in salaries the next couple years. The Tejada and Sheffield contracts from that same offseason were also steals; even the Ivan Rodriguez deal worked out well despite his big drop off in performance after 2004.
   53. Dale Sams Posted: February 13, 2014 at 12:47 AM (#4656049)
Are you still in denial about this? I find this shocking. The man is done as an elite hitter, is a nothing on the basepaths, and will be 32 this season. I find it bizarre how totally incapable some people are of looking at Adrian Gonzalez rationally.


Speaking of obsessive irrationality.
   54. madvillain Posted: February 13, 2014 at 01:55 AM (#4656068)
Speaking of obsessive irrationality.


So small differences in the waffly bits, stick it in the middle somewhere and call it 3.5. Players that good don't usually fall off cliffs immediately in their early 30s so he's probably good for 7-9 WAR over the next three years.


A .807 OPS at 1B goes a lot further then it did even 7 years ago. One thing worrying about his slash line however is the reliance on average to drive it. Bat speed, even for elite hitters, is usually the first thing to go. Frank Thomas was able to hold his value even with a plummetting average (mostly due to completely giving up on the inside part of the plate), zero defense and running, because of walks and power. Not sure A-Gon can do the same. If he falls off to 275, his OBP is going to be around .325, and his power isn't good enough to offset that.

That said, you nailed it, middle case 7-9 WAR over the next few years, hardly an Adam Dunn like situation where he's providing no or even negative value. Yeah, he could fall off a cliff, but it's not the most likely outcome. If he goes 270/315/420 this year, well then you consider other options at 1B for 2015.


SP John Danks, Chicago White Sox: three years, $42.75 million (11)


Eh, I dunno, this isn't a great contract, and Danks' trajectory sucks ass, but he clearly ran out of gas last year after a solid start and even if he makes 25 starts with a FIP of 4.70, that's still about 7-8 million worth of starting pitching. If he goes for 28 starts and has a FIP of 4.40, he's almost to his contract.

Not expecting much from Danks this year and over the rest of the deal, but Prince's deal and A-Gon's are both much worse than this imo, thanks mostly to the rapid increase in the cost of starting pitching.
   55. jmurph Posted: February 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4656136)
Crawford might have health issues, but he is effectively the same player he was when he signed the original contract, putting up a 108 ops+(vs a career ops+ of 105) with a little loss in speed. A full season and he's probably a 2.5 war player and that is probably on the low side of a prediction for him.


CFB, you need to choose a different example. Crawford is owed 82 million over the next 4 years. You're suggesting if he puts up 10 WAR, this is, what? An okay contract? In the first 3 years he put up 2.3 bWAR. COMBINED. And "effectively the same player?" You think he's capable of a 4.5 bWAR season still? Forget the 5.0 and 6.9. That contract is the definition of terrible, and I can't imagine there's a likely scenario in which he can turn that around.
   56. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 13, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4656227)
The thing about FA contracts is - aren't they all bad? Essentially, one owner/GM is willing to pay a player more money than anyone else thinks the guy is worth. Wouldn't that make every long-term (4+ year) contract "untradeable" without a significant concession (like the money the Tigers gave the Rangers)?
   57. Nasty Nate Posted: February 13, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4656240)
The thing about FA contracts is - aren't they all bad? Essentially, one owner/GM is willing to pay a player more money than anyone else thinks the guy is worth. Wouldn't that make every long-term (4+ year) contract "untradeable" without a significant concession (like the money the Tigers gave the Rangers)?


I see what you are saying, but it only applies to right when the contract is signed. Owners/GM's change how much they think a player is worth over time.

And in practice we have seen lots of long-term FA contracts moved with positive trade value.
   58. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: February 13, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4656281)
So what were the best contracts? I gotta think Randy Johnson is right up there. 4 years with an option for a 5th, $65 mil with the option exercised, 4 CYAs, 40 WAR, 1 title.


Pujols' 7/$100 with a $16 million option, signed after 2003. He put up 65.8 WAR and won 3 MVPs - so, basically, a Hall of Fame career in and of itself, even ignoring his first three seasons (20.7 WAR).
   59. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 13, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4656298)
Pujols' 7/$100 with a $16 million option, signed after 2003. He put up 65.8 WAR and won 3 MVPs - so, basically, a Hall of Fame career in and of itself, even ignoring his first three seasons (20.7 WAR).


Under that measure, the Longoria deal was even better (six years for $17.5 million, with team options for 14-16, which netted 36 WAR).

I think Johnny Damon is interesting in the history of true FA signings. He signed two long-term contracts (4 years each) with different teams, and both turned out pretty well for the signing teams. That can't happen often.



   60. Nasty Nate Posted: February 13, 2014 at 02:01 PM (#4656310)
I think Johnny Damon is interesting in the history of true FA signings. He signed two long-term contracts (4 years each) with different teams, and both turned out pretty well for the signing teams.


...On the heels of being involved in a big 3-team trade that didn't work for anyone.
   61. cardsfanboy Posted: February 13, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4656330)
CFB, you need to choose a different example. Crawford is owed 82 million over the next 4 years. You're suggesting if he puts up 10 WAR, this is, what? An okay contract? In the first 3 years he put up 2.3 bWAR. COMBINED. And "effectively the same player?" You think he's capable of a 4.5 bWAR season still? Forget the 5.0 and 6.9. That contract is the definition of terrible, and I can't imagine there's a likely scenario in which he can turn that around.


I'm suggesting that for a team that isn't worried about payroll, he is a plus player. This silliness of judging contracts based upon the entire league is a sign of stupidity that needs to end.

You cannot, nor should you ever, judge a Yankee/Dodger/Angel contract by the same standards of a Pirate/Rays/Royals contract. Anytime someone does, they are exposing their own ignorance on how baseball money works. Crawford is probably going to be an above average player for the next three years, provided he stays in the lineup. Dodgers can afford it, so it's a positive for them.

As far as his play for the Red Sox....that was a stupid signing from the get go, not because of his age or expected aging trajectory, but because Fenway is a stadium that negates all the advantages that Crawford provides(both offensively and defensively). He should have been looking at San Diego, Dodgers or Rockies and not a stadium like Fenway that was created for little league players and station to station baseball.

I don't think he's capable of 4.5 war, but he's more than capable of a random 3+ war, he put up 1.7 last year in 117 games.. That is a 2+ war pace and again, the point is that he's not a liability for the team. He's a 110 ops+ hitter with plus defense when healthy.
   62. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 13, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4656342)
Crawford is probably going to be an above average player for the next three years, provided he stays in the lineup.


"provided he stays in the lineup" is a big ask. He hasn't been healthy for three years now and he's going to turn 33 in August. A left fielder who puts up a 105-110 OPS and seems to be regressing quite a bit on the defensive side of the ball is not a particularly good player.

For what it's worth he was 0.2 WAA in 2013 according to BBRef so it's not like he was clearly above average to begin with and I think decline is more likely than improvement.

a stadium like Fenway that was created for little league players and station to station baseball.


Fenway actually can be a terrific park for a guy like Crawford. With the funky angles it is a park that plays into doubles and triples in a hurry and it creates real problems for defenses (and third base coaches) on running bases so speed is a key. And of course the Sox play 81 road games and the source of much frustration in my fandom was the Sox' slavish desire to find "Fenway players" and build slow plodding teams that got demolished on the road for years.
   63. Nasty Nate Posted: February 13, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4656345)
It would be tough to pack more separate wrongs into one post than #61.
   64. cardsfanboy Posted: February 13, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4656382)
Fenway actually can be a terrific park for a guy like Crawford. With the funky angles it is a park that plays into doubles and triples in a hurry and it creates real problems for defenses (and third base coaches) on running bases so speed is a key. And of course the Sox play 81 road games and the source of much frustration in my fandom was the Sox' slavish desire to find "Fenway players" and build slow plodding teams that got demolished on the road for years.


Crawford is a gap hitter, Fenway has no gaps...luck caroms isn't a repeatable skill. Add in his high level of defense is based upon his range, and again, a little league park like Fenway doesn't have much field to cover. It was absolutely the worst possible place he could have signed for. I don't think his lack of playing performance as a Red Sox was indicative of where his true talent level currently lies.



   65. jmurph Posted: February 13, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4656403)
It would be tough to pack more separate wrongs into one post than #61.


Correct. It's like we're talking about a different player entirely, and also doing it angrily.

he put up 1.7 last year in 117 games.. That is a 2+ war pace and again, the point is that he's not a liability for the team. He's a 110 ops+ hitter with plus defense when healthy.


He is absolutely a liability. He's a 20 million dollar per year player that cannot be relied upon to produce at an above average rate while at the same time accumulating the number of plate appearances befitting a player earning that salary.
   66. Karl from NY Posted: February 13, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4656489)
The thing about FA contracts is - aren't they all bad? Essentially, one owner/GM is willing to pay a player more money than anyone else thinks the guy is worth.

Yes. Whoever signs a free agent is the club who made the worst overestimation of his value.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winner's_curse
   67. Danny Posted: February 13, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4656496)
On the heels of being involved in a big 3-team trade that didn't work for anyone.

It worked out well for the A's, but not because of Damon.
   68. toratoratora Posted: February 13, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4656577)
Any discussion of great contracts has to include Barry Bonds. In 1993, the Giants signed Bonds to a $43.849 million six year deal-Bonds accumulated 49.5 WAR in that time-a million a year. Better yet (Because TVM matters),in 2000-2002 he earned $39.958 million.In return he earned 31.4 bWar.
In sum, from 93-02 Bonds made $89,189,882 mil and put up 84.7 bWAR.
That's just great value. The Giants made out like bandits.
   69. BDC Posted: February 13, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4656585)
So what were the best contracts?

The Mets paid R.A. Dickey $8.5M for 13 WAR over three years, and then balked at paying him a lot more for what's fixing to be a lot less. Not a classy move, perhaps, but ruthlessly cost-effective.
   70. Danny Posted: February 13, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4656641)
Better yet (Because TVM matters),in 2000-2002 he earned $39.958 million.

In May 1998, the Giants signed Jeff Kent to a 3-year extension for 1999-2001 with an option for 2002 at $6 million per season. He put up 22.9 rWAR for $24 million over those four years--also great value.

Another good one: Jim Edmonds signed a 6-year, $57 million contract for 2001-2006 and put up 31.3 rWAR.
   71. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 13, 2014 at 11:54 PM (#4656698)
Speaking of obsessive irrationality.


Sure. I'm the one being ridiculous about a 1B who is 32 and who has OPS+sed at 121 with a middling OBP over the last two years. Who doesn't walk and can't field anymore. Who was never an athlete. That's me. I admit it! He's a big star who is totally worth the tens of millions of dollars that are being forked over to him, and is likely to be worth it in the future.

whistles Dixie past every graveyard in America

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