Thursday, January 8, 2015

Should MLB Eliminate Guaranteed Contracts?

TGP commenter Jeff Levin is having a pretty good week.

"That's right, ladies. I'm awesome."

On Sunday Daniel posted an article covering a conversation he and Jeff had in the comment section of a previous article. Here we are today, and it's my turn to bring up a quick conversation that Jeff and I had on Monday in another comment section.

Mr. Levin felt that it wasn't right that players in Major League Baseball had guaranteed contracts. Why should Alex Rodriguez get paid all $61 million left on his contract after admitting to steroid use, having two hip surgeries, and producing at replacement level when he has played recently*?

* I wanted to be fair and point out that while ARod hasn't played like he did in 2007, his triple-slash of .265/.352/.428 with 25 home runs in 710 plate appearances between 2012 and 2013 is better than "replacement level".

Jeff didn't mean to just pick on Alex, as he did mention others that haven't lived up to their contracts like Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Carl Crawford, and Barry Zito. No matter who he did or didn't bring up, or whether you feel they did or didn't live up to their contracts, Jeff brings up a very good point. Especially when you see players in the National Football League get cut and lose money all the time.

While the chances of teams being able to cut players without paying them the money left on their contracts are as good as a salary cap being implemented in MLB, that doesn't mean it's pointless to talk about.

Okay... maybe it is pointless. But why not do it anyway? It's not like you have something better to do than read about baseball. Am I right?

I agree that teams should be able to cut players based on under-performing, being convicted of a crime, or failing a drug test (and probably a few other things, but I'll let you discuss that below). But I don't agree that those players should lose every cent owed to them. At least not in every case. I mean, if a players is convicted of rape or murder, then MLB should totally cut ties with the player and not pay him another penny.

But if a player goes from finishing in the top five of Cy Young Award voting for three straight years from 2009 to 2011, to having a combined ERA of 4.87 from 2013 to 2014, then perhaps their team shouldn't be on the hook for all $73 million left remaining on his contract (assuming his option for 2017 vests).

"Wait a second..."

Let's keep going with the case of CC Sabathia. There could be a clause in his contract stating that if his ERA rose above 4.50 for at least two straight seasons, the Yankees could cut him and only have to pay him 50% of the money remaining on his contract. In Sabathia's case you have a vesting option to deal with, and my thought would be that it would be considered guaranteed. Therefore, the Yankees could cut CC now and only have to pay him $36.5 million instead of the $73 million still remaining (again... assuming the vesting option is guaranteed).

Of course, CC's high ERA could be due to injury, meaning the reason for cutting him may have to be different, but you should understand where I'm coming from.

This could all just be more Yankees fans crying about having to pay big money to under-performing players that make a ton of money like Rodriguez, Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira. But I don't think you can totally dismiss this idea, either.

Oh, and one last thing, regarding the first picture in this article... I doubt Jeff looks like Neil Patrick Harris.


  1. I didn't want to come off sounding like I'm picking on one particular player. I also don't want to come off like Comisky and create a situation where players are tempted to fix the World Series. I don't really have any sympathy for either the owners or the players. I just see some drastic faults in the economic structure of baseball, and nothing being done to correct it. First off, the union, players, and agents hold all of the power. They can pretty much do anything they want without recourse. It goes beyond guaranteed contracts. All of these no trade clauses, opt out clauses, and perks that are allowed to get put into contracts are ridiculous. If Sabathia wants a suite on a road trip, he's making $25 million a year. He can afford the upgrade. If Tanaka wants to come to America and pitch, he can afford his own apartment, interpreter, and his own first class plane tickets. Also, if I get injured at work, I have to go on work comp and find a way to live on about 70% of my salary.

  2. I like it guys, when the Unions get so large they run an organization (see, Auto Unions) it is time to put the brakes on.
    The Owners are the ones that should decide, how to spend their own conjunction with the unions...working to make things fair for both sides. Get rid of the Agents and have the players face management across the table, as it was years ago. In the long run, as of now, the Agents are making more money than the many $$$$$M!
    The unions always say, "without the players, there wouldn't be any baseball"! News flash...without the owners there wouldn't be a baseball league and all the stuff that the players don't need to worry about!
    Working as partners, there could be movement on some of the things talked about in the article above, IF there were NO AGENTS! When one side has two of the three parties (votes) trying to deal and make changes...there is no contest!

    1. I wouldn't advocate getting rid of agents, as they not only get their players more money but they also take care of those players wants and needs. And with all the legal talk that goes into contracts, you can't expect a player to get things right. It's like lawyers... sure, you can represent yourself, but are you really better off than having a lawyer to argue your case for you?

      And how are the agents making more than the players? Agents make a percentage of what the player gets, and I assure you that percentage is not over 100%... which is what it would take for agents to make more than the players. Unless you mean some agents make more than some players, which I agree with. On the surface that doesn't seem right, but it also doesn't seem right that so many people would make more than teachers. That's life. Some of it sucks.

      Should the team be more fair in negotiations that agents are SO needed? Sure. But if I were a player I'd want somebody whose only job is to look out for my interests, and lets the team handle their own business.

    2. I agree that ditching the agents would be a tough call. So many players are coming over from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other places and barely know English let alone the legal jargon in most contracts. There is also plenty of people out there ready to take advantage of youth and/or ignorance.

      What's Boras get, like 15%? He is worth 15%, ask anyone. He does his job. Casey Close did his job numerous times. They only make more than players because they represent the big time Max Scherzer's of the world. In the same sense Boras still has to get the $5 million contracts for the Stephen Drew's a lot more often then he does the Scherzer and A Rod contracts he has received.

    3. Ok, I agree in many respects, I am not the best one when it means to be understandable.
      I take much for granted. The old way was, the players (many of them) had a person (most of the time, accountants) that watched out for their money (investments etc.) they also helped with the contracts. It is more personal to have someone that has only, your back!
      Now we have a guy like Boras representing 20/30+ more 15-20%, add them up and they make more money than A-Rod per a year.
      When one has Players Union dealing with the Owners Union (more or less), it is one on one. Adding the Agents makes it two to one! The agents can pit one team against another but the owners can't! What if no team offers a player the money he asks for? The players Union goes to court and claims collusion!
      Believe me, if I were one of the players, I would try for the most money I could squeeze out of the owners. But, there will come a time when the ownerships will be diluted to Families running and living off the teams (sounds familiar), or corporations running things like CBS did with the Yankees!
      I am on the wrong side of this, I can see that but, tell me has there ever been a player of 30 years old worth a guaranteed 10 year contract of $25M+ a year? I have never seen one, greed is fine, but within reason! By the gods of is a kids game!
      I guess this is my rant of the week, not too well received but, that's life! LOL

    4. Baseball is a kids game, you're right, but Major League Baseball is a business.

    5. That is what I have been saying, Daniel!
      The game itself, is a kids game!
      Major Baseball is a business, The two approach things differently;
      The players use their God given talents to make as much money as they can.
      The owners want to make as much money off the talent they pay for as they can.
      So, Business wise, they should only give out contracts that fit the players age, or team opt-out contracts.
      This will never happen in my life time but, things, they are a changing!
      I keep writing it is a business and nothing is ever commented about it!
      95% +/- of the owners, run the team for a profit...there aren't many King Georges' out there. So, there will come a time when a player is asking, just to much for to little.

  3. High school teachers with a BA degree now make an avg., of $65,000 per year for working 3/4 of a year. Many, also teach summer school classes, which brings it up to around about $80,000 +/-. Privet school teachers make upwards of $100,00 a year.
    In 2013 a BA would be around $55,000/$60,000 depending where one worked.

  4. BRYAN VAN DUSEN.................
    If you want to cut / release players for various reasons, put it in the contract. Very upfront & legal.
    They will laugh at you, as they walk away to another team.

    Re: Jeff Levin, who works for Budweiser. Your last sentence ( below ) confusing.
    " last thing, regarding the first picture in this article... I doubt Jeff looks like Neil Patrick Harris "

    Why would Jeff want to look like that alternate lifestyle cowboy ?

    Neil Harris is the wife/ husband to David Burtka. Whomever he is.


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)