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One year later: Re-examining last winter’s biggest contracts

Dec 8, 2011, 3:17 PM EDT

crawford-and-epstein Getty Images

While everyone debates the wisdom of giving $254 million to Albert Pujols or $106 million to Jose Reyes or $77.5 million to C.J. Wilson, it seems like a good time to look back at the biggest contracts signed last offseason:

Carl Crawford: $142 million for seven years
Jayson Werth: $126 million for seven years
Cliff Lee: $120 million for five years
Adrian Beltre: $96 million for six years
Adam Dunn: $56 million for four years
Derek Jeter: $51 million for three years
Victor Martinez: $50 million for four years

Those are the seven contracts that topped $50 million last winter.

At the very least it’s obvious that the Red Sox, Nationals, and White Sox would gladly go back in time and undo the Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and Adam Dunn contracts. Derek Jeter’s deal looks as iffy now as it did then and I certainly wouldn’t be excited to owe Victor Martinez another $38 million now that he’s a 33-year-old designated hitter.

I’m not sure what the point is, other than to say that for the most part every fan base is thrilled when their favorite team signs a big-money free agent and things can change an awful lot in 12 months.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    That’s the problem with free agency being a seller’s market every year. If you wan’t the top talent you have to pay top dollar, and that becomes a lot of dollars in an uncapped league. When you’re paying ridiculous amounts of money for a player’s past performance there’s also a good chance it won’t work out like you envision it. Albert certainly won’t fall off a cliff in his first year but the Reyes and Wilson deals could look really bad really soon into them

    • baseballisboring - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      That’s why you have to try to pay for future performance instead of past performance. But not everybody does that (see: Pujols, Albert), so it is hard.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:48 PM

        Easier said than done. Just look at all of the busts that get the huge signing bonuses when they are drafted and never make it out of the minors. And we won’t even look at the NFL and NBA examples of giving “potential” superstars the huge rookie contracts.

        What we are seeing with the huge contracts here in MLB free agency is teams that are basically saying that they will pay huge amounts for the front ends of those contracts, knowing all along that the back end is a huge gamble.

  2. sdelmonte - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    As much as no one outside of the owners wants to go back to the days of the one year contract, there was a certain advantage to that way of doing business.

    And let’s be honest. Most people are in jobs where we don’t have contracts, where there are performance reviews, and where there is a lot of incentive to do our work well to avoid being let go or to convince someone that we deserve a raise or a promotion. It goes against the usual rules of our economy for someone to have such utter job security. And as cruel as the economy can be, “what have you done for me lately?” is a legitimate question.

    • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:49 PM

      Not ever going to happen.

  3. xmatt0926x - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    As a fan of a team who’s big signings have been questioned over the last few seasons I’d only say that yeah, sometimes the signings look real bad later on. The question you have to ask yourself as a fan though if if you’d trade positions with one of the many teams who don’t have any fear of making these bad deals but at the same time will never have the thrill of going for it. There’s nothing like October baseball. So congrats Royals, Pirates, Padres, etc. You will not have too many of these bad contracts to worry about and you will also never have to cancel those vacation plans when October comes around. I watched my team for a generation be one of the bad franchises of the league. The signings of trash heap players while othjer teams made moves to win, the constant excuses from ownership about why the team couldn’t compete, any decent player the team had eventually being dealt because they became too expensive. Now it’s different and I don’t want to ever go back to that baseball nothingness. I’ll live with Ryan Howards bad 5 year deal.

    • badmamainphilliesjamas - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      Agreed, @xmatt. Every contract isn’t going to be a winner–teams will overpay for some players and find others are a bargain. But I’d rather my team be willing to take the shot on talent.

  4. trotnixonisbestnixon - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    An article reminding us that the Red Sox spent money on Carl Crawford last offseason…anyone wanna bet how long before Bozos starts trolling?

    • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      And how shortly thereafter all of you Boston losers start crying (clicking the “Thumbs Down” button). Heck, you couldn’t even wait until then to start bawling, crybaby.

      • JBerardi - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        “And how shortly thereafter all of you Boston losers start crying (clicking the “Thumbs Down” button). Heck, you couldn’t even wait until then to start bawling, crybaby.”

        Carl Sagan:

        But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

        Seems about right.

      • bobwsc - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:21 PM

        us boston losers. is any city taking ownership of your should’ve-been-aborted-with-a-coathanger ass?

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:51 PM

        No city “owns” me, bobdaknob…unlike you Boston idiots who let sheer chance and happenstance (where you were born) dictate how you live your entire lives. Sad really.

      • cur68 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:07 PM

        bozo be gettin’ all sensitive over the “thumbs down”, awww…po’ lil thing. Stop being such a monumental douche and I bet it stops happening, bozo. And now, in keeping with the “template theme”;

        And how shortly thereafter bozo loser starts crying [clicking the “Thumbs Down” button (but giving himself an immediate "up" click, first)]. Heck, you couldn’t even wait until then to start being a bozo-crybaby.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:33 PM

        I couldn’t care less if I get “thumbs down” or not, canada boi. Merely noting the idiocy of the mechanism and the even greater idiocy of the masses for using it.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:43 PM

        cur68 – Dec 8, 2011 at 5:07 PM
        bozo be gettin’ all sensitive over the “thumbs down”, awww…po’ lil thing. Stop being such a monumental douche and I bet it stops happening, bozo. And now, in keeping with the “template theme”;

        And how shortly thereafter bozo loser starts crying [clicking the “Thumbs Down” button (but giving himself an immediate "up" click, first)]. Heck, you couldn’t even wait until then to start being a bozo-crybaby.

        __
        How pathetic you are, canada boi. And if being a “monumental douche” is what you think my posts represent, then get ready to label most of the Red Sox faithful, here or elsewhere, as “monumental douches” as well…since the “template theme” comes directly from them. The negative reactions are a direct testament to the fact that they “dish it but can’t take it”. You probably relate to them in that regard, given your constant whining about what I have posted here.

      • JBerardi - Dec 8, 2011 at 10:11 PM

        Oh, Bozo. If only you could buy the love of HBT commentators as easily as the Yankees buy championships.

  5. somekat - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Still awfully happy with Cliff Lee

    • tsi4431 - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      Awful would definitely define Cliff Lee’s postseason the last two years.

      • thefalcon123 - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        …in which I defend a 6 inning, 12 hit pitching performance.

        Did you watch that game? In six inning, Lee struck out 9 Cardinals and the Cardinals had a lot of weak contact….that ended up barely missing the gloves of the Phillies fielders. It was a slew of squibbers and bloops that happened at the exact wrong time.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:53 PM

        Slew of squibbers and bloops? That’s the game of baseball many times. Odd that you and others never complain when those types of hits go in favor of your teams. Get over it.

      • paperlions - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:09 PM

        He’s a Cardinal fan you clown, those squibbers and bloops DID go in favor of his team.

      • cur68 - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:10 PM

        Neatly summed falcon. Cliffy damn unlucky in that game, but that’s the way it goes. As a remedy, I certainly would have like to see the Phills do something about their hitting. In fact, they may yet. I could see Fielder on that team, easy.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:38 PM

        paperlions – Dec 8, 2011 at 5:09 PM
        He’s a Cardinal fan you clown, those squibbers and bloops DID go in favor of his team.

        __
        So obvious by his screen name, oh faux monarch of the wild.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Dec 8, 2011 at 10:35 PM

        Pay attention to the commentary on the board and you would know that Falcon is a Cardinal fan. I mean, I’m sure he was in one of the 50 Albert threads today. Or simply don’t make assumptions based upon one comment. Also, stop being a confrontational ass.

      • thefalcon123 - Dec 9, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        “So obvious by his screen name, oh faux monarch of the wild”-

        –Screen name is actually taken after Chicago punk band The Falcon, featuring the Lawrence Arms’ Brenden Kelly and one of the dudes from Alkaline Trio. I chose it because the name “bozosforall’s mom is a dumb fat old whore” was already taken.

  6. phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Agon?

    • El Bravo - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      Yep, that’s a big and very successful one. I also am not convinced yet that signing Crawford was a bad move. I think he’ll rebound and normalize.

      • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:01 PM

        I actually meant why he was not mentioned? I know he didnt sign in the winter but that was just semantics.

        “Yep, that’s a big and very successful one.” so far yea… he kinds faded a bit in the second half.. lets wait and see

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:02 PM

        Keep dreaming about that one. Crawford was overrated from the start and doesn’t really fit in Boston.

      • El Bravo - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:09 PM

        I know. He should be mentioned, I mean. But whatev, I don’t feel like being attacked by a bozo right now. …yikes.

    • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:03 PM

      His contract doesn’t kick in until this season. Remember, it didn’t count against last year’s salary numbers. But it will this year.

      • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        that was to avoid luxury tax… we all know it was “signed” in the winter..

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:12 PM

        Yeah, I know why they did it. All that does is postpone the hit until this year though. And gives them an extra hit on the last year of the deal, when his productivity will be much lower than it is now.

        Can’t wait until the day that the Red Sox payroll is higher than the Yankees, at which time Red Sox fans en masse will be chowing down on more crow than they can stomach.

        Looks like a few other teams may very well pass the Yankees in salary at some point as well. While the Yankees are getting cheaper production out of the young guys that come up from their top-rated farm system (who will still be on their rookie contracts), desperate teams like Boston and the like will be spending like drunken sailors trying to keep up. Get ready for another Yankee dynasty (like the one in the late 90s).

      • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM

        Dynasty is a strong strong word… they dont have another Core 4 to do that with.. sure they have the young arms but understand that AROD will be around almost as long as Agon.. so will CC and Tex.. the Yanks are not going to be as young as you think till at least 2018 i think

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:36 PM

        Yes, dynasty is a strong strong word, but given that is misused so much nowadays (particularly by New England idiots), there’s no reason why the Yankees can’t have another one in the near future.

        As far as “Core Four”, I’d think that Montero at C, Cano at 2B and both Banuelos and Betances could quite possibly match the original “Core Four” given a few more years. Also, given the assistance of older veterans like Jeter, CC and ARod, it might even be easier for the new “Core Four” to win than it was for the original group. One thing is for certain…the Yankees are going to be loaded for bear in a few years, given both the raw resources at their disposal as well as the great job that Cashman has done keeping most of his best prospects in-house over the past few years. The rest of MLB can read’ em and weep.

  7. bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    The Crawford contract is the most hilarous of them all, given the sheer pomposity of the Red Sox organization and its fans. Made them ALL look like the foos that they are. LMAO

    Thumbs down if you are one of those fools.

    • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:03 PM

      you spelled “fools” wrong..

      Also you seem to laugh you ass off alot… does it hurt? (wait for mom joke….)

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM

        You spelled “your” wrong. Unless you were speaking in Ebonics, that is.

        And I’m sure that Mrs. Phukyouk is a fine woman, having raised you up to be a Yankees fan.

  8. phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    and BTW…. Jeets had an awesome yr last season so not sure what you are on the fence about…..

    • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:16 PM

      The critics keep taking potshots at Jeter every year, while Jeter just keeps on chugging along, doing what he does best…WIN.

      Definitely a better shortstop than any that Boston has had in several decades…and likely better than any SS that they have ever had.

      Derek Jeter…first ballot HOFer. There isn’t anyone on the current Red Sox roster than can remotely claim that distinction.

      • professor59 - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:31 PM

        What he apparently does best is hit weak groundouts to 2B. And sign autographs for the people old enough to remember when he was really good.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        Yeah, because being Top 20 in the AL (and Top 30 in MLB) in batting average equates to “hitting weak groundouts to 2B” in the real world.

        What are you a “professor” of…idiocy?

    • thefalcon123 - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      A 0.7 WAR and 97 OPS+ is awesome?

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:29 PM

        phukyouk is likely referring more to Jeter’s second half numbers, rather than his slow start last season, which resulted in the Yankees winning the AL East and getting into the playoffs.

        Beats the fast start of Gonzalez, followed by his big choke at the end of the season, resulting in the Red Sox missing the playoffs, following the biggest choke of all time by a team in baseball history.

      • chrisdtx - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM

        I’m going to have to say that October 17-20, 2004 would constitute the biggest choke in baseball, nay, sports history.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:04 PM

        Sorry, loser, but the biggest choke in all of sports history occurred on February 3, 2008.

        Only 14 points scored by what was considered the most prolific offense in NFL history, in the only game that really mattered that season. 18 and d’oh.

      • chrisdtx - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:15 PM

        Stop putting football in my baseball.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:32 PM

        Then stop putting your foot in your mouth.

        YOU brought up “sports history”, therefore you opened the door to football being mentioned.

    • genericcommenter - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      Jeter did about as well as could be expected, which is not worth $17 million a year. I think everyone knew that no matter how well he does, he’s not going to fulfill the deal based on current/future on-field performance. His best case scenario is performance like 2008 with hopes that he doesn’t do too much worse than 2010.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        And not a single Yankee owner, staffer or fan really cares if he lives up to his contract. All they care about is that he continue to be productive (which he was last season, after a slow start). The only critics here are jealous Yankee haters and statgeeks.

  9. phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    FYI

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/12/08/big-time-red-sox-crawford-reach-seven-year-142m-deal#comments

  10. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    I’d love to see teams unilaterally stop signing these kinds of deals. I don’t want to elude to collusion or severely pissing off the MLBPA, but it’s just bad business sense to offer these large numbers for such crappy eventual performance. Teams need to stop falling over themselves for these guys.

    • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:44 PM

      Why do you want to “elude” collusion…when you can “allude” to it instead.

      j/k

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        It’s been a long week, man.

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:35 PM

        Yeah, I’m just messing with ya.

        BTW, what is ol’ Matt Stairs up to nowadays? Always liked the guy as a hitter.

  11. lilevil74 - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    The White Sox should send Adam Dunn down to lower class A ball and make him ride a bus! Let him strike out down there.

    • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM

      Im calling it now.. Dunn has a comeback year…

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:37 PM

        You don’t think he’s ‘dunn’ yet?

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        Good one, Stairs. LOL

      • phukyouk - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:47 PM

        ISWYDT

      • Francisco (FC) - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:30 PM

        Now that’s not fair, I did that first that when I did a small monologue on Bay, Uggla (when he wasn’t hitting), Werth and Dunn (Lackey slipped in later..)

      • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:36 PM

        Belated kudos to Francisco (FC) for his clever puns.

    • bozosforall - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:30 PM

      No, but someone should just tell him to concentrate on being a DH only, because he isn’t any great shakes as a first baseman.

  12. isujames - Dec 8, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    I know Reyes and c.j arent worth that kind money and as for pujols he woulda been worth that amount five years ago but @ 32 years of age,after a decline in most offensive catagories,and a league leader in double plays,nope.I mean hell no 10 years $254 mill when you are only gonna b good for four maybe 5 years max barring any significant injury.Thank GOD we didnt resign him!!!!

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