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Mark Teixeira comes to terms with aging, says he’s overpaid

Feb 2, 2013, 1:01 PM EDT

Mark Teixeira Getty Getty Images

Dan Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal has a must-read interview with Mark Teixeira, who has come to terms with the idea that he won’t be the same player in his mid-30s as he was in his 20s. In another moment of candor, he also said that he feels there’s nothing that he can do to justify the massive eight-year, $180 million contract he signed with the Yankees in December of 2008.

“I have no problem with anybody in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid. Because I am,” Teixeira said. “We all are.”

“Agents are probably going to hate me for saying it,” he continued. “You’re not very valuable when you’re making $20 million. When you’re Mike Trout, making the minimum, you are crazy valuable. My first six years, before I was a free agent, I was very valuable. But there’s nothing you can do that can justify a $20 million contract.”

It’s a pretty logical take, as players in their pre-arbitration and arbitration years can deliver far more value because they are less expensive and are only entering their primes. Meanwhile, players in free agency get paid as if they’ll continue to maintain their peak production, even though many will be past their prime by the end of a long-term deal. That’s why we have seen many teams buy out arbitration years and a year or two of free agency as part of extensions, taking on some risk on the chance they’ll end up with a team-friendly contract.

Fans will appreciate the general sentiment from Teixiera, as it appeals to the notion that our priorities are out of whack, but let’s not fool ourselves and think the system will suddenly change. Players will continue to ask for more as long as these ridiculous television deals put more money in owners’ pockets. And they absolutely should. I’m sure the issue doesn’t keep Teixeira up at night, but it’s a refreshing take.

There’s a whole lot more in the piece, but this is really great work by Barbarisi, who points out that expectations for players in their mid-to-late 30s might still be skewed a bit by what we saw during the steroid era.

  1. proudlycanadian - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Sure he is overpaid; however, the Yankees willingly gave him that their contract and there is no reason why he would accept less than the contract amount.

    As far as the big spending Angels and the Dodgers are concerned, their time will come.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      every time I see his playoff #’s I say the same Mark.
      just imagine if he caught the shite A-Rod does.

      • bolweevils2 - Feb 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Certainly his playoff numbers stink, but you’d expect a players playoff numbers to be at least somewhat worse than the regular season because the pitching is so much better. And, for his career, we’re talking about around 150 post season at bats. 40 games worth. At the 40 game mark in 2012, Bryan LaHair was hitting .100 points better than Albert Pujols, but I assume you wouldn’t have read anything into that at the time since it’s only 40 games. So you can’t really read much into Teixiera’s post season number either.

    • dcfan4life - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Mark Texeira was offered literally the same from a couple of clubs besides the Yankees, including the Orioles and Nationals. For the first time in a while you cant blame the Yankees completely for this contract.

      • bigharold - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:05 PM

        I don’t know about the Nats, I think there offer was in the 160 mil range but the O’s offer was 15-18 million dollars less. So while the O’s offer was significant 15 mil is a lot to leave on the table.

        The Yankees thought they were getting the a guy that looked like he was hitting his prime, a .300 hitter with Low 30s HR power and regularly driving in 110 RBIs. Once he saw that RF wall he became a dead pull hitter so what they got was a guy that’s hitting .265 with 35-40 HRs and slightly better than 110 RBIs, (except for last season due to injury but he was still on his way to representative Yankee numbers). So, you have to ask yourself is that Teixeira’s doing or are is Yankee management telling him “.. don’t worry about your average your job for us is to hit the ball hard every time.” I think it’s the Yankees tell him to hit the HRs. Same thing happened to Giambi, .. he got to the Stadium and became a dead pull hitter.

        Either way, the Yankees offered him the contract so it their doing. Only a fool would say “.. 180 mil, .. are you guys nuts? No way I’m worth that.”

        You can’t blame a player for asking. The only issue I have with Teixeira is his lack of production in the post season. Although, I do admit that his instance on hitting into the teeth of the shift gets on my nerves from time to time.

  2. rathipon - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Nobody expects you to be as effective in your mid 30’s as you were in your mid 20’s. But goddamnit, Tex, you probably lose 30 hits a year to the shift. Even dropping a few bunts here amd there would keep the defense honest. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why he had never made a real attempt to adjust.

    • rayswhitesuit - Feb 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM


  3. paperlions - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Players aren’t overpaid within the context of the revenue they generate. People are willing to pay high prices for tickets, parking, concessions, and TV packages to watch them play….and despite player salaries, every owner still makes more money than even the highest paid player.

    • bigharold - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      Absolutely correct, it’s basic economics, .. supply and demand.

      In the past owners had very few revenue streams. Essentially they sold tickets and concessions inside the park, made some revenue through advertising space sold in the ball park and got paid for the radio rights and or local TV contracts, which before cable was not much at all. The National TV contract was nothing compared to what it is today. Fast forward to today and the revenue streams abound but most importantly in the calculus of MLB economics it’s the fans who are willing to pay the price that underwrites it all.

      Teixeira’s statement while candid and refreshing is true only in a philosophical sense. The economics of baseball have essentially made it so ones contract, .. especially if one is a big time FA, .. is generally a reflection of past performance. With the expectation being skewed from a couple of decades of PED use there will be a number of contracts that will get ugly in a hurry, .i.e. A-Rod, Puljos, Fielder. Once these cycle through it’s possible that there will be very few contracts in excess 5 years because owners will see just how devastating they can be. On the other hand never underestimate the stupidity of a owner.

      Either way the fans pay the bills and if every ball player took a 50% cut tomorrow ticket prices wouldn’t go down a nickle and MLB tee shirts would still be a $7.00 shirt with a $15.00 logo. The economics of baseball will not change to benefit fans any time soon because of the fans themselves, .. supply and demand. And, we aren’t going to quit demanding anytime soon.

      In the end I’d rather see a few players overpaid than already wealthy owners get even wealthier.

      • brianabbe - Feb 4, 2013 at 4:03 AM

        This hits the nail on the head. I read a Fangraphs clip recently that suggested the baseball related revenue split is something like 58/42 owners at this stage and widening. I’d rather see some kids who grew up with very little and worked their tail off get $100 million than see a billionaire line their pockets that much more.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      there may be a day when ALL major league teams will be owned by a major network.
      this will probably be better for the fan being able to construct what camera angles he
      wishes to view from home, slow motion, replay etc.

      • bigharold - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:18 PM

        ” … the fan being able to construct what camera angles he
        wishes to view from home, slow motion, replay etc.”

        That’s coming anyway. I think it’s a matter of working out the technical issues.

        I’m not so sure about entertainment companies owning sports franchises. I’d rather have an owner that is invested in the team to the point that it’s a matter of pride that they do well. While in some cases it might get teams that are better run on the whole I think individual owners add a lot to the fans rooting interest. You’d have to admit that teams like the Steelers, NY Giants, Yankees are better off because of their patriarchal owners. Of course the Jerry Jones’, and Frank McCourt’ of the sports world might seem to be arguments against they at least have their place as villains.

        It’s bad enough that the corporate media has as much sway as it already does adding them as owners would, in my view, not makes things better.

    • djpostl - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Yup. In the context of baseball and the revenues it generates they are anything but overpaid.

      It amazes me how one guy can have a skill set, like say shipping American jobs overseas by the buttload, and we claim he is just a “very successful businessman” worthy of praise but then another person (an athlete or an entertainer) is thought of as “lucky” or “overpaid”.

      Teix also has a good grasp on the fact that the first six years in the league players are drastically underpaid, in which case the teams are typically getting over like a bandit.

      The free agency years do nothing more than balance the scales.

    • wpjohnson - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      How many people are drawn to a game because they want to see Teixeira play? Other than his immediate family, I would say the number is quite small.

      • paperlions - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:48 PM

        How many people give your comment a thumbs up? Other than yourself, I would say the number is quite small.

        My comment was about all players, as Tex said “we all are (overpaid)”, it was not specifically about Tex. Regardless, people pay to see players, they don’t turn on games or go to stadiums for any other reason.

  4. losanginsight - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    I can see this happening to the Jalos in a coupke years even now with Wells contract. All of the players the Dodgers have signed have contracts that expire when the player will be 35-36. None past that. The Dodgers are ahead of the curve by signing players for more money instead of more years.

  5. diehardcubbiefan4life - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Well said! Its hard to find an athlete who will come out and bluntly just say it. Props to you Mark! Here’s to hoping you hit .280+/25+/100+

    • ezthinking - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      More likely he hits .250/30/105. His days of .280 are over. The Yanks will take it and need it though.

  6. mybrunoblog - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    A+ to Teixeira for his candor. Of course he is ridiculously overpaid but ask long as a businessman is wiling to pay you $180 million to play baseball then you take it first and ask questions later.

  7. pisano - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    It’s all about timing, and his numbers were pretty good at the time he became a free agent. Would anyone give him that contract now? no way, no how, but he was putting up good numbers at the right time.

  8. philliesblow - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    MLBPA will be thrilled to see this.

  9. seahawks80 - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Props to Mark, you will never that idiot A-Fraud say something like that.

  10. shanabartels - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    It’s nice to see when a player (openly) has enough self-awareness to acknowledge that he’s hitting the age where he’s more injury-prone and lacks the durability and speed of a 25-year-old. A lot of guys lack that self-awareness. Look, I love the Yankees as much as anyone… probably more than most people. I am 100% okay with Tex never stealing bases, ever. I mean, I laugh when he tries. But it’s really okay that it’s not his thing. If he wants to focus on what he is good at and not try to be the most well-rounded player, that’s fine.

    If Tex can’t beat the shift, well, he’s hardly alone in that. A lot of players can’t hit to all fields. Robbie Cano can, and I consider him pretty well-rounded, but he’s no speed demon either. It’s okay for these guys to not be good at every little thing. They’re human.

  11. drewzducks - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Got to give him credit for the honesty but it’s a lot easier to say that when you have A Rod on your team.

  12. jrobitaille23 - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    I think you’ll see more and more, players ‘aging’ and their numbers declining rapidly once in their early to mid 30s. That is natural and how it used to be. It’s no coincidence that since testing for PED became the norm, players are suddenly playing worse and numbers decline across the board coming back to earth like before the 90s. Maybe TEX is already starting to make excuses for his impending decline because he knows he is now clean and won’t have that advantage. And don’t tell me you think he was clean. They were ALL on it. Saying otherwise is burying your head in the sand.

  13. cackalackyank - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    I guess he heard my nickname for him, “brittle bones”. No, in all seriousness though, it is refreshing to hear him assess his status honestly. I am guessing he didn’t offer to take a pay cut though. It would be more refreshing though, if he tried to adjust, just a little bit. His defense is still sound but the decline at the plate has been going for three years now. It is one of the things that gives me serious concern about the quality of the NYY hitting coach. The cynic in me feels this could qualify as making excuses for the season coming…and the three after that. Another concern is, given this admission, it makes the lack of a real back up to play first, at least until A-rod comes back, look like a potential problem that needs more consideration than it seems to have received. When A-rod comes back (and yes he will be back, if not this year then next), assuming Youk is healthy, Youk can occasionally spell Tex. In reality though right now it is too important that both Tex and Youk stay healthy and play every game before July in the field.

  14. halohonk - Feb 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    If the Angels get to the series 3 times in the next 5 yrs and win 2, those big contracts will be worth every penny. Plus they signed the big tv deal with Fox. Arte is laughing all the way to the bank. The Wells trade was the worst in halo history. That wont happen again. Not with Dipoto callin the shots as gm.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      What pitching staff is going to get the Angels to the WS 3/5? The staff is Jered Weaver, CJ Wilson, Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Jerome Williams. A #1, a tweener between a 1/2 and three 4/5s.

    • djpostl - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      Better find some pitching real fast lol. You’ll be lucky to sniff two playoff spots with first round exists over the next five years with that staff.

  15. mkd - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    I’m no big fan of big contracts for aging free agents, but I’m sympathetic to the player’s rationale for not doing something stupid like volunteering to give money back when they start to decline. According to Fangraphs, Teixeira was worth ~$100M his first six years in the league and was only paid ~$32M. Since he joined the Yankees he’s been worth ~$70M and been paid ~$85M. Obviously he’s still got another $100M coming his way that his current on field production will in no way justify, but for his career Teixeira has been worth ~$170M and only been paid ~117M. If he can maintain average/below-average production for the next four years he will wind up being paid in total exactly what he has been worth in total. Good for him.

    • lordd99 - Feb 3, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      Sure, Teixeira can give half his money to charity if he wants. Yet I don’t hear anyone saying the Angels should give Mike Trout $30M in 2013.

  16. halohonk - Feb 2, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Trout, Albert, Josh and Trumbo. If you score more runs than the other team you win. Angels are going to use their entire pitching staff. They have a lot of depth in the bull pen this year. That killed us last year. Dipoto brought in alot of arms. I think you see the Halos lead the league in Hrs, Runs and wins this year. Looking like a freeway series here in SoCal.

    • cackalackyank - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      …and this comment relates to this post how?

    • djpostl - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      You clearly don’t watch much baseball lol. How has that whole “offense first” thing worked for teams lately (or really just in general)?

      • cackalackyank - Feb 2, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        Well it worked great for the NYY last year..just ask the Tigers.

      • djpostl - Feb 3, 2013 at 4:15 PM


    • purnellmeagrejr - Feb 3, 2013 at 7:19 AM

      many a slip twixt cup and lip.

  17. stevincinci - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    If you feel you are overpaid, give half your salary to charity.

    • hojo20 - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      F charity. Give it to me.

  18. macjacmccoy - Feb 2, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    At least he isnt quite B.J. Upton over payed. Yet.

  19. joewilliesshnoz - Feb 2, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    He’s a Yankee, of course he’s overpaid.

  20. lordd99 - Feb 3, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Meanwhile, players in free agency get paid as if they’ll continue to maintain their peak production…

    This statement is incorrect assumption. Teams pay the market rate, understanding that aging players will decline. The CBA creates a dynamic where teams are constructed with a combination of lower-priced, younger players along with higher-priced older players. It’s the overall mix that determines success. The Yankees knew full well that when they signed Teixeira that he would begin to decline. From ’07-’09 he was a mid-140s OPS+ player. The last three years, ’10-’12, he’s been a low 120s OPS+ player. The same scenario will unfold with Pujols and Fielder.

    If Teixeira goes out and stays healthy this year, as he has pretty much every year with the exception of last, and produces a .255/.345/.495, 30+ HRs, a 120 OPS+ with his normally fine defense, then the Yankees will be getting basically what they expected, and paid for, in year five.

  21. sportsnut101 - Feb 4, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    Yes ur overpaid. The reason they give to charity is for the tax deduction not cuz they really wanna give back

    If that was the case give a few people a few thousand who just have fell on hard times 20,000 will help a family get a house as the down payment.

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