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(Grantland)   15 worst/most untradeable current contracts in MLB. Yes, he's on here. Him too. And that guy. And #1 is so obvious, it should be given a lifetime achievement award   (grantland.com) divider line 74
    More: Obvious, Major League Baseball, Josh Willingham, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Marmol, Jason Kubel, John Danks, Chone Figgins, Bobby Bonilla  
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3816 clicks; posted to Sports » on 12 Feb 2013 at 7:17 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-12 06:29:26 AM
Teams really need to rethink handing out contracts of more than 5 years.
 
2013-02-12 07:22:07 AM
Worried about Fielder's in about five years.
 
2013-02-12 07:37:34 AM
Being a GM in baseball has to be the greatest job ever.  No salary cap so it's like the wild west.  You have owner constrained caps but those owners realize that they can't spend like the yankees/red sox/etc so you have a 'hey I fielded the best team that you could afford'.
 
2013-02-12 07:42:16 AM
Didn't we have one of these a couple of weeks ago?
 
2013-02-12 07:50:27 AM
Why no mention of the Texas Rangers signing of Lance Berkman? $10 million for a guy who had 36 at bats last season, is in decline, and basically can only DH? Oh, and to add to it, he signed with a team whose fan base detests him.
 
2013-02-12 07:51:45 AM
Any contract that keeps a player signed past the age of 34 is a bad contract.
 
2013-02-12 07:59:46 AM
Wow, it's the first time in months I've worried about Joey Votto's knee.
 
2013-02-12 08:20:32 AM
No matter how many times it comes up, I still wonder how AA convinced the Angels to take Wells' hideously inflated contract.
 
2013-02-12 08:34:28 AM
so...the second most untradeable contract belongs to a guy who was just traded under the same contract last year?  Where's Bobby Bonilla?
 
2013-02-12 08:37:59 AM
As a Jays fan, I was so surprised and happy when the Angels took Vernon Wells off their hands.
 
2013-02-12 08:39:27 AM

You Are All Sheep: Being a GM in baseball has to be the greatest job ever.  No salary cap so it's like the wild west.  You have owner constrained caps but those owners realize that they can't spend like the yankees/red sox/etc so you have a 'hey I fielded the best team that you could afford'.


Being a GM for an owner that doesn't give a shiat must be great.  Your job in KC or Pittsburgh is to just make sure the team has some sort of draw, but beyond that just watch the bottom line.


Christ, baseball's financial model is broken.
 
2013-02-12 08:42:57 AM
But A-Rod's gonna retire so it doesn't matter, right? Guys?
 
2013-02-12 08:43:48 AM
Odd, I think arod has the best contract in baseball.
 
2013-02-12 08:51:47 AM
Theo Epstein's Larry Lucchino's hands are all over that list.
 
2013-02-12 08:51:58 AM

snake_beater: No matter how many times it comes up, I still wonder how AA convinced the Angels to take Wells' hideously inflated contract.


This, and why Rios was claimed off waivers. Romero was on there as an honorable mention, but last year was his only bad year and he had absolutely no help within the rotation after about 2 months in.  I don't think I agree calling it a bad contract when he puts in 200 innings every season.
 
2013-02-12 08:59:12 AM
If you think paying millions of dollars to a man named "Chone Figgins" is a good idea, I feel bad for ya son.
 
2013-02-12 09:07:07 AM
I would have picked 1-15: The entire Mets Starting Roster (8 batters, starting 5 pitchers, reliever).
 
2013-02-12 09:20:23 AM

Gunderson: I would have picked 1-15: The entire Mets Starting Roster (8 batters, starting 5 pitchers, reliever).


Math is hard.
 
2013-02-12 09:38:01 AM
The Prince Fielder contact is going to be a real albatross around the Tigers necks in about 5 years, you know only half way through his 10 year $1/4 billion contract.
 
2013-02-12 09:44:50 AM

The Smails Kid: If you think paying millions of dollars to a man named "Chone Figgins" is a good idea, I feel bad for ya son.


It looked like a good idea at the time.
 
2013-02-12 09:48:46 AM

UNC_Samurai: You Are All Sheep: Being a GM in baseball has to be the greatest job ever.  No salary cap so it's like the wild west.  You have owner constrained caps but those owners realize that they can't spend like the yankees/red sox/etc so you have a 'hey I fielded the best team that you could afford'.

Being a GM for an owner that doesn't give a shiat must be great.  Your job in KC or Pittsburgh is to just make sure the team has some sort of draw, but beyond that just watch the bottom line.


Christ, baseball's financial model is broken.


And that's why the freaking Pro Bowl can get better ratings than three of the World Series games from this past year.

metalmachine06: Didn't we have one of these a couple of weeks ago?


Yeah, it seems like we get a similar article from a different source every few weeks.
 
2013-02-12 09:48:50 AM

snake_beater: No matter how many times it comes up, I still wonder how AA convinced the Angels to take Wells' hideously inflated contract.


It was a bet on Wells continuing to rebound on top of the fact that they missed out on every marquee free agent that year.  Didn't work out, but it's not like Wells wasn't worth the shot.  Dude was a hell of a player and still is a pretty solid outfielder.
 
2013-02-12 09:52:24 AM

Incorrigible Astronaut: And that's why the freaking Pro Bowl can get better ratings than three of the World Series games from this past year.


Nah.  It's a controlled quantity/market saturation issue.  There are 256 NFL regular season games played per year.  There are ~2500 MLB games played per year.
 
2013-02-12 09:54:26 AM
Any contract given to Josh Beckett is a bad contract.
 
2013-02-12 10:09:07 AM

bhcompy: Incorrigible Astronaut: And that's why the freaking Pro Bowl can get better ratings than three of the World Series games from this past year.

Nah.  It's a controlled quantity/market saturation issue.  There are 256 NFL regular season games played per year.  There are ~2500 MLB games played per year.


I think that you can make that excuse during the regular season, but you're comparing arguably the worst game of the NFL season to the best of the MLB. To me, it speaks more to the fanbase that the NFL has built by mastering parity- nobody (ok, outside of maybe Cleveland, but they love the team anyway) is doomed on opening day, whereas maybe half of MLB teams (if that) have a realistic shot at making the playoffs each year.
 
2013-02-12 10:12:08 AM
With fully locked in contracts for players, no deal should ever be more than 4 years. And no player should ever be given a no trade clause. If contracts in MLB were like those in the NFL then longer contracts could be considered, but they aren't.
 
2013-02-12 10:31:53 AM

mikemoto: Why no mention of the Texas Rangers signing of Lance Berkman? $10 million for a guy who had 36 at bats last season, is in decline, and basically can only DH? Oh, and to add to it, he signed with a team whose fan base detests him.


I'm guessing because the author was of the opinion that these 15 are worse. Which they are.

I don't disagree with your thinking, by the way.
 
2013-02-12 10:38:50 AM

WTF Indeed: Any contract that keeps a player signed past the age of 34 is a bad contract.


The way that Ryan Braun's contract was structured (each year has a portion deferred so he keeps getting paid until 2031) will allow the Brewers to keep a marquee player, but still be able to field a semi-competent roster with their on field budget.  Now if you are talking about giving Pujols a 10 year deal at 31, yeah that's stupid.

UNC_Samurai: You Are All Sheep: Being a GM in baseball has to be the greatest job ever.  No salary cap so it's like the wild west.  You have owner constrained caps but those owners realize that they can't spend like the yankees/red sox/etc so you have a 'hey I fielded the best team that you could afford'.

Being a GM for an owner that doesn't give a shiat must be great.  Your job in KC or Pittsburgh is to just make sure the team has some sort of draw, but beyond that just watch the bottom line.


Christ, baseball's financial model is broken.


If you are a manager or GM in pro sports, you get hired to be fired.  There are few guys who can withstand the fans' calls for their head every time the team performs poorly.

///Hell, even Lombardi got "demoted" to GM only in Green Bay.  Of course, he was also battling cancer by making it do up-downs till it puked at the time, but it happens.
 
2013-02-12 10:58:13 AM

Incorrigible Astronaut: I think that you can make that excuse during the regular season, but you're comparing arguably the worst game of the NFL season to the best of the MLB. To me, it speaks more to the fanbase that the NFL has built by mastering parity- nobody (ok, outside of maybe Cleveland, but they love the team anyway) is doomed on opening day, whereas maybe half of MLB teams (if that) have a realistic shot at making the playoffs each year.


I don't think that that is a "league" issue.  The Jaguars, Lions, Browns, Titans, etc are going nowhere and will continue to go nowhere.  Bad ownership is bad ownership.  Each league has it.

Regardless, that doesn't mean that parity doesn't exist.  Since the end of the 90's Yankees dynasty, there have been 9 different World Series champions in 12 years.  You've had 8 in the same time period in the NFL.  Who has more parity?
 
2013-02-12 11:04:09 AM

chimp_ninja: Gunderson: I would have picked 1-15: The entire Mets Starting Roster (8 batters, starting 5 pitchers, reliever).

Math is hard.


Hey, at least I can't count to 15 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aruzcarQM94
 
2013-02-12 11:10:46 AM

Incorrigible Astronaut: bhcompy: Incorrigible Astronaut: And that's why the freaking Pro Bowl can get better ratings than three of the World Series games from this past year.

Nah.  It's a controlled quantity/market saturation issue.  There are 256 NFL regular season games played per year.  There are ~2500 MLB games played per year.

I think that you can make that excuse during the regular season, but you're comparing arguably the worst game of the NFL season to the best of the MLB. To me, it speaks more to the fanbase that the NFL has built by mastering parity- nobody (ok, outside of maybe Cleveland, but they love the team anyway) is doomed on opening day, whereas maybe half of MLB teams (if that) have a realistic shot at making the playoffs each year.


There's definitely truth to what you say, but there are intangibles involved. The Pro Bowl is played in the middle of winter. What else are sports fans going to be watching on a Sunday evening in late January? The length of the MLB season also plays a role. I love baseball, but by mid-October I only passively watch the playoffs if I don't care about the teams involved. By playoff time, MLB does become a very regional sport. I'm a Royals fan, so I'm emotionally tuned out by mid-July. I still watch, but my heart isn't into it. Hopefully that will change this season.

/I can always hope.
 
2013-02-12 11:19:53 AM
The Ryan Howard contract is one I forgot about.  I was hoping they would of picked up Youk last year for his duties.
 
2013-02-12 11:24:15 AM

Gunderson: chimp_ninja: Gunderson: I would have picked 1-15: The entire Mets Starting Roster (8 batters, starting 5 pitchers, reliever).

Math is hard.

Hey, at least I can't count to 15 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aruzcarQM94


That actually happens with some regularity. You'd think counting to 3 or glancing up at the scoreboard is an easy task, but when you're in the outfield you tend to be watching clouds most of the day. It's like a whole different universe out there.
 
2013-02-12 11:28:10 AM
Someday, hundreds of years from now, our highly evolved, gigawatt-obsessed successors will occupy their daily lives trying to answer the one unanswerable question of the universe: What could have possibly possessed Tony Reagins to trade Mike Napoli for $84 million worth of Vernon Wells? The tab is down to half that.

There's a joke in there about future efforts to find a big, important answer and coming up with 42 (half of 84), but I can't quite put it all together.
 
2013-02-12 11:34:08 AM

Uncle Pooky: mikemoto: Why no mention of the Texas Rangers signing of Lance Berkman? $10 million for a guy who had 36 at bats last season, is in decline, and basically can only DH? Oh, and to add to it, he signed with a team whose fan base detests him.

I'm guessing because the author was of the opinion that these 15 are worse. Which they are.  I don't disagree with your thinking, by the way.


Meh.  In 2011, Berkman was among the best hitters in baseball, and he played 145 G.  It wasn't a fluke year, as he has a borderline-but-not-quite HOF resume before that.  His major weakness was his atrocious defense, but as a DH, you aren't paying that penalty.

PECOTA (which just compares people to historically similar players) projects him for 510 PA of .269/.379/.476 with 20 HR, including Arlington as his home park.  That's a pretty valuable bat, especially in conjunction with a strong lineup that can take advantage of his OBP.

It's a risky signing, because his one major injury was so recent, but enough guys have recently bounced back from that to put up decent numbers.  He'll DH most of the time, so the season will be less grueling.  He'll be 37, so I wouldn't want a multi-year contract with him, but it's not crazy to think he has at least one more good year in the tank.
 
2013-02-12 11:43:00 AM

balfourk: With fully locked in contracts for players, no deal should ever be more than 4 years. And no player should ever be given a no trade clause. If contracts in MLB were like those in the NFL then longer contracts could be considered, but they aren't.


Yeah.  If you look at the 50 or so biggest contracts (total value), maybe 10 of them look like wins for the team.  Most are at least underwhelming, and too many (Hampton, Zito, most recent A-Rod, Pujols, Howard, etc.) look like complete disasters even by the time they had 5+ years left on them.

Most of the time, you're underpaying for the first couple years, and you know you're going to eat it on Prince Fielder's 2020 or Joey Votto's 2023 or whatever.  But a lot of those contracts don't even get the "good years" part.
 
2013-02-12 11:49:01 AM

mikemoto: Why no mention of the Texas Rangers signing of Lance Berkman? $10 million for a guy who had 36 at bats last season, is in decline, and basically can only DH? Oh, and to add to it, he signed with a team whose fan base detests him.


It's pretty big money, but Texas isn't tied to him outside of 2013. Is it a gamble? Sure, but since it's only a 1-year deal, it's pretty low-risk.

Looking over his career, Berkman has been an "up one year & down the next" kind of player. Last year was a down year for him (largely due to injury), so the trend says that he should bounce back. Although, he is pushing 37 or something like that, so it could go either way.

Texas had to do what they could to try and replace the numbers that Hamilton takes with him to LA and if he stays healthy and the knees hold up, history suggests that Berkman could help toward that end. He's nearly a .300 career hitter with more than a .950 OPS. He hits from both sides & Texas needed some left-handed hitting to balance out the lineup. The main thing is, he has to stay healthy.

As far as the hatin' fanbase goes, you're local and should know as well as anyone else that D/FW, in large part, roots for the laundry. He shot his mouth off & was wrong about Texas being an "average team" back in 2011, but he's done a good deal of back pedalling... especially since inking the deal with the Rangers. Bottom line is all of that will be forgiven and forgotten the minute he launches one over the wall & takes that jog around the bases... Houstonian or otherwise.
 
2013-02-12 12:09:44 PM

You Are All Sheep: Being a GM in baseball has to be the greatest job ever.  No salary cap so it's like the wild west.  You have owner constrained caps but those owners realize that they can't spend like the yankees/red sox/etc so you have a 'hey I fielded the best team that you could afford'.


I think the toughest position to be in is the middle market, with budgets in the ~$80m-$100m range.  You can't say "my hands are tied by my low budget" like Billy Beane and Andrew Friedman, and you can't afford to recover from the occasional flop like Brian Cashman and Ned Colletti.  Also, at that payroll level it's a real stretch to get the highest paid players and you're tempted to go out and spend $10-$15m per year on long-term deals for average players.  Pretty soon you find yourself hamstrung by a bloated payroll for a mediocre team.  That's a job that can make a GM look bad in a hurry.
 
2013-02-12 12:17:16 PM

chimp_ninja: balfourk: With fully locked in contracts for players, no deal should ever be more than 4 years. And no player should ever be given a no trade clause. If contracts in MLB were like those in the NFL then longer contracts could be considered, but they aren't.

Yeah.  If you look at the 50 or so biggest contracts (total value), maybe 10 of them look like wins for the team.  Most are at least underwhelming, and too many (Hampton, Zito, most recent A-Rod, Pujols, Howard, etc.) look like complete disasters even by the time they had 5+ years left on them.

Most of the time, you're underpaying for the first couple years, and you know you're going to eat it on Prince Fielder's 2020 or Joey Votto's 2023 or whatever.  But a lot of those contracts don't even get the "good years" part.


I think that part of what you're paying for is credibility with future free agents.  In particular I'm thinking of the Mariners' recent extension for Felix Hernandez, which looks like an "at value" deal at this point.  Sure, they might be able to get an extra win or two over the next seven years with those $175m -- but where else are they going to spend it?  This offseason they swung and missed Hamilton, Swisher and J.Upton (who vetoed a trade), which has to be at least in part because Felix's future was up in the air and the players didn't like the prospect of losing.  If they didn't get that contract done, they wouldn't be able to lure a decent free agent there for a long time.
 
2013-02-12 12:37:38 PM

thecpt: snake_beater: No matter how many times it comes up, I still wonder how AA convinced the Angels to take Wells' hideously inflated contract.

This, and why Rios was claimed off waivers. Romero was on there as an honorable mention, but last year was his only bad year and he had absolutely no help within the rotation after about 2 months in.  I don't think I agree calling it a bad contract when he puts in 200 innings every season.


He didn't get all that close to 200 last years (181), and he really, really sucked. 5th worst ERA in the majors of 88 qualifying pitchers, -1.7 WAR. IMHO, for 7.5 million a year he needs to be at least a league average starter. That implies ~4.10 ERA and about 200 innings. At about that rate he'd be fairly paid. If he doesn't bounce back a long ways from last year, it's a seriously bad contract. On the other hand, if he's a borderline Cy Young candidate like in 2011, he's a steal. It just comes down to how much of an optimist you are. Hopefully, in the 5th starter spot with no pressure he gets his head right. But I wouldn't count on it.
 
2013-02-12 12:41:34 PM

Super Chronic: I think that part of what you're paying for is credibility with future free agents. In particular I'm thinking of the Mariners' recent extension for Felix Hernandez, which looks like an "at value" deal at this point. Sure, they might be able to get an extra win or two over the next seven years with those $175m -- but where else are they going to spend it? This offseason they swung and missed Hamilton, Swisher and J.Upton (who vetoed a trade), which has to be at least in part because Felix's future was up in the air and the players didn't like the prospect of losing. If they didn't get that contract done, they wouldn't be able to lure a decent free agent there for a long time.


Also known as the "Jayson Werth Effect".

One of the criticisms of the sabermetric approach is that if you constantly try to avoid overpaying for talent, you're very likely to end up with a 84-78 "pretty good" team at an excellent price.  Unfortunately, they don't give the World Series trophy to the most efficient roster.

It's an auction system, and if you overpay for good free agents, you still get to put good free agents on the field next year.  Worse, if you make a sensible offer for, say, Prince Fielder, all it takes is one other team to make a stupidly good offer to Prince Fielder and you lose.  You shouldn't win with a fair offer unless you know something the other 29 guys don't, because your fair offer should land in the middle of the pack.

I don't think Prince is worth $23-24M/yr right now, but the Tigers are a better team with him on the field than with some attractively priced Mitch Moreland equivalent.  And if the Tigers had been sensible and offered him "top-end DH with a body that doesn't scream 'ages well' and no non-hitting skills" money (say, $80M/5yr), he would have laughed and signed with someone else.  This is true even if at the end of the contract, you look back and say "That guy was probably worth $80M in extra wins during those 5 years."
 
2013-02-12 12:53:54 PM

NuttierThanEver: The Prince Fielder contact is going to be a real albatross around the Tigers necks in about 5 years, you know only half way through his 10 year $1/4 billion contract.


So, now 32, 33 is over the hill?
 
2013-02-12 01:03:18 PM
And Papelbon gets an honorable mention. I'm surprised he wasn't in the top 15 seeing as how he probably won't be able to pitch as many innings this year (especially late in the season) without his Torodol.
 
2013-02-12 01:27:03 PM

meanmutton: NuttierThanEver: The Prince Fielder contact is going to be a real albatross around the Tigers necks in about 5 years, you know only half way through his 10 year $1/4 billion contract.

So, now 32, 33 is over the hill?


In baseball, yes.  Most players hit their peak between ages 26 and 28, decline slowly for a couple more years, and drop off noticeably starting at 32 or so.  History suggests that the Prince Fielder you're seeing today is the best Prince Fielder you're going to see.  And he isn't that fantastic.  He's probably once (2009) been one of the 10 most valuable position players in his league, largely because he gives back so much of his offensive value with his defense and baserunning.

Add to that his body.  In 5 years, he's likely to be DH-exclusive, and his average will slip as his speed goes from "abysmal" to "nigh-unplayable".  (Last year, BP's baserunning system ranks him 835th out of 835 players in terms of costing his team runs on the bases.  He is smart enough not to steal, but he was the 835th-best guy in terms of taking the extra base on a hit, and the 835th-best guy on advancing on a ground ball.  It was an impressively bad season of baserunning-- they estimate he cost the Tigers 8.2 runs from this sort of thing, whereas the 834th-best guy (Yoner Alonso) cost the Padres about 5.5.)  Take the current Prince Fielder and assume he loses 10-15 hits per year as teams can afford to move to super-deep infielders throwing him out from the edge of the outfield grass.
 
2013-02-12 01:42:44 PM

chimp_ninja: meanmutton: NuttierThanEver: ***snip***

largely because he gives back so much of his offensive value with his defense and baserunning.

***snip***


He can't be that slow.  Hell, he has more inside-the-park HRs than RICKEY HENDERSON, for crying out loud.
 
2013-02-12 01:56:32 PM

roc6783: He can't be that slow. Hell, he has more inside-the-park HRs than RICKEY HENDERSON, for crying out loud.


That's mainly because no infielder wants to be in his way when he's running.
 
2013-02-12 02:19:22 PM

Joe_diGriz: roc6783: He can't be that slow. Hell, he has more inside-the-park HRs than RICKEY HENDERSON, for crying out loud.

That's mainly because no infielder wants to be in his way when he's running.


Would you?

i.usatoday.net
 
2013-02-12 02:37:36 PM

roc6783: chimp_ninja: meanmutton: NuttierThanEver: ***snip***

largely because he gives back so much of his offensive value with his defense and baserunning.

***snip***

He can't be that slow. Hell, he has more inside-the-park HRs than RICKEY HENDERSON, for crying out loud.


Here are Prince's two inside the parkers:

Link
Link

One of the got stuck at the bottom of the wall and the right fielder gave up on it, thinking it would be ruled a dead ball. SPOILER ALERT!: It wasn't.

The other one looks like a fly ball that the center fielder lost in the Metrodome's white roof - I can't listen to the sound on it right now, so I'm not positive about what happened, but it seems pretty clear that the CF farked up royally.

Basically, what I'm saying is that he didn't get those through speed. He got them because he was lucky enough to have the defense go to sleep on balls that he hit. Babe Ruth, in his current condition, would have had enough time to run around the bases on either of those.

/How the hell did Rickey only have 1 inside the park home run??????
 
2013-02-12 03:08:32 PM

4NTLRZ: And Papelbon gets an honorable mention. I'm surprised he wasn't in the top 15 seeing as how he probably won't be able to pitch as many innings this year (especially late in the season) without his Torodol.


I thought he hadn't used it at all during his time with the Phils.
 
2013-02-12 03:32:05 PM
The Mets are still not quite out of the damage caused by Omar Minaya.
 
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