Some MLB teams continue to print money and hand it out like they have no worries about the long-term ramifications of these contracts.
In their quest to win a championship, while under heavy pressure from the fans, owners will spend millions of dollars on players that will never come close to having the great seasons they had in the past.
These same owners have to realize that one reason the NFL has been so successful is the fact that contracts are not guaranteed.
Oh sure, they will pay a lot of upfront money in bonuses, but if there ever comes a day that the organization feels that a particular player can’t help the team win, you are no longer part of the team. No more money is due to you unless you are owed guaranteed money from the front-loaded contract.
MLB has yet to implement this type of contract, as the players union would never sign off on such a deal.
For an example of how horrendous these contacts have been, let’s take the case of Bobby Bonilla.
Bonilla was an outfielder for the New York Mets who retired in 2001. The Mets wanted to cut Bonilla and owed him six million dollars.
The Mets were in horrible shape financially, so they worked out a deal to pay Bonilla one million dollars every year on July first with interest.
Every July first, the Mets send Bonilla a check for one million dollars. Bonilla collects that million dollars every year until 2035.
That’s just crazy even to comprehend how anyone could think that would be a great deal for the New York Mets.
Francisco Lindor, 43 Million
The Mets, once again this year before the start of the regular season, announced that they were signing newly acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor to a 10-year 341 million dollar contract. That included a 21 million dollar signing bonus which puts his 2021 pay at 43 million dollars.
Lindor is hitting .228 with 11 home runs and has driven in 36 runs. It’s still early in the contract, but the Mets may have buyers remorse on this deal sooner rather than later.
How about the pitchers that signed those big contracts. Some of them are now on the injured list and the commissioners suspended list.
Justin Verlander, 34.2 Million
Justin Verlander signed a two-year $66,000,000 contract with the Houston Astros, with every penny guaranteed, at an annual average salary of $33,000,000.
Verlander will not pitch in 2021 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He will be a UFA in 2022, and there has been some talk about him possibly returning to Detroit.
Verlander will be 39 years old at that time. The problem is these guys want to get paid for what they have done, not what they can do going forward or how they can help the team win games. At some point, diminishing skills must be taken into account (unless your name is Tom Brady).
Stephen Strasburg, 34.1 Million
Stephen Strasburg signed a seven-year -$245,000,000 contract with the Washington Nationals, with all dollars guaranteed at an annual average salary of $35,000,000.
Strasburg is 32 years old and will be 37 when the contract expires.
While I would say that Strasburg has had four excellent years. 2012, 2016, 2017, and 2019, the Nationals overpaid on this contract.
Strasburg is currently on the DL with a neck injury and has a 1-2 record with a 4.47 ERA. He is making 34 Million dollars!
Two Dodger Pitchers David Price, 32 million, and Trevor Bauer at 39 million, have three of the top ten paid salaries in baseball.
Bauer is currently on the commissioner’s suspended list, and who knows when he will pitch again. He was also one of the players to have used the “Sticky Substance” to help with the ball movement.
Price is in a limited role. He is 4-0 with a 2.57 ERA with 35 strikeouts. Not the production you expect from a projected starter and a guy making 32 Million dollars this season.
For 71 million dollars, the Dodgers are getting two pitchers with a 12-5 record and an ERA around three. That’s is not a good return on your money.
With a large salary like that, you need to put up Walter Johnson and Cy Young numbers every time out.
Some players are earning their money, although not big money.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
For six million dollars, all Ohtani is doing is leading the league in home runs with 34 and has driven in 74 runs. Ohtani also is an integral part of the Angels pitching staff. He is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 69 innings.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. Toronto, Blue Jays
Guerrero is a legitimate triple crown threat. He is hitting .332 with 31 homers and 78 runs batted in. He is making $605,000
Where are Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Mookie Betts among the league leaders?
They are among the league leaders in salary, but outside of Trout, not a mention on any league leader boards.
The argument is that they help their teams win other ways through their leadership in the clubhouse.
It seems that once players sign the big contract, in a lot of cases, they take that pressure off themselves to continue to perform at a high level. They get by and don’t play with the amount of heart, drive, and passion they once did when they first arrived in the big leagues.
Big contracts will continue to be a part of baseball. The owners are too stupid to realize that these contracts hurt the game financially long term and do more harm than good.
I’m not an advocate of every team’s owner running their organization like the Pittsburgh Pirates, either. Some very good small market teams are successful without the big salaries, dragging down the payroll.
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s are two small-market clubs that try to do it the right way.
Also, much credit goes to the GM and the front office staff in those organizations for their success.
Are these big salaries hurting the game of baseball? Join the discussion and let us know in the comments below.