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Mark Teixeira’s contract another expensive miscue for Yankees

Jun 26, 2013, 9:25 PM EDT

Mark Teixeira AP

When it was signed following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira‘s eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees was the third biggest in MLB history and largest to go to someone not named Alex Rodriguez. Now it rivals Rodriguez’s as one of the worst in baseball.

With the news Wednesday that Teixeira would undergo wrist surgery, the 33-year-old first baseman ends his fifth season with the Yankees having played in just 15 games and hitting .151. The Yankees are still on the hook for another three years and $67.5 million after paying him $22.5 million this season.

If it were just the wrist injury, there’d be better reason for hope that Teixeira could come back and be a quality regular, if not an All-Star, next year. But he already seemed to be in obvious decline before 2013. Here are his OPSs and OPS+s since 2007.

2007: .963 – 149 – Rangers/Braves
2008: .962 – 152 – Braves/Angels
2009: .948 – 141 – Yankees
2010: .846 – 124 – Yankees
2011: .835 – 121 – Yankees
2012: .807 – 116 – Yankees

The Yankees would surely take it if Teixeira could come back and be a 120 OPS+ first baseman in the last three years of his deal. He wouldn’t be worth nearly $22.5 million per year in that scenario, but that’d still make him an above average regular at first base.

It’s probably overly optimistic, though. While Jose Bautista has come back and produced since returning from a similar tendon sheath surgery, he hasn’t been nearly what he was in the two years before he got hurt. He was also a couple of years younger than Teixeira will be. Mark DeRosa‘s wrist problems ended his career as a regular. Nomar Garciaparra came back and had his moments, but he was never the same quality of player after Al Reyes hit him in the wrist.

So, the Yankees should be very worried. That they’ll be overpaying Teixeira and Rodriguez going forward is a given. Maybe CC Sabathia, too. But as long as those guys are reasonably productive, then the Yankees should continue to contend. If those players become liabilities on the field as well as in the budget, that’s the recipe for disaster.

  1. theskinsman - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Sorry Tex is hurt. Thrilled he and A-Rod and Jeter are signed to big contracts and are nearly AARP ready. Triple chins Hanky ,Hally-boy and Cash are just starting to show signs of a 120 million dollar temper tantrum.
    Yes, boys,this is what you get when you throw Daddy’s money around. Perfect.

    • bigharold - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      “Yes, boys,this is what you get when you throw Daddy’s money around.”

      And yet with all they’ve endured this season with injuries they are still only two games in the lost column off the pace.

      But, take heart. A-Rod might not come back or be effective when he does come back. And, Jeter might only be a .295-.300 hitter when he comes back now that he’s 39. Maybe Riviera’s arm will fall off. On the other hand, … if they do come back and display anywhere near the expected offensive production what will you rant about next?

      The Empire is struggling, .. we here on the bridge of the Death Star suggest that you enjoy it while it last.

  2. chip56 - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Actually for this season the WBC and insurance are picking up 80% of Tex’s contract…still doesn’t look good – but let’s get our facts right.

    • Glenn - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:21 PM

      It’s not the money owed this year so much as the luxury tax ramifications going forward. His salary still counts against the luxury tax regardless of who is paying it.

      • turdfurgerson68 - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        Thank you for pointing that most relavant fact out.

  3. theskinsman - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Ok, I stand corrected.But did I say THIS Season? I just hope they decide to sign another aging has-been to a record contract.Or maybe two of them.
    Anyone notice Harry weeping and standing on the edge of a cliff as the Blue Jays creep ever closer to the yanks? Don’t talk him down, he’s actually waiting for the bandwagon of a good team to jump onto.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      If they sign Cano to an 8 yr contract at over $20 million per season, it will bite them in the rear too…

      • unclemosesgreen - Jun 27, 2013 at 7:22 AM

        That’s not even close to what it will take to sign Cano. Not even close.

  4. thevauntedchris - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    his decline has been very surprising, given his age and production history at the time of the contract. not sure anyone could have predicted him almost immediately turning into a different type of player. just bad luck on that contract. this one feels different

    • deathmonkey41 - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM

      Not really surprising. The Yankees have stood by and watched him become a dead pull hitter- one that can’t even go against the shift if his life depended on it.

      • thevauntedchris - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        Not sure how your comment relates to mine. I’m speaking of surprising in terms of the chances of him becoming that dead pull hitter when the contract was given.

        You are just stating an observation of him years after the contract…which is a correct observation..but it actually just proves my point.

        My point is he was not that dead pull hitter when he signed the contract..hence the “surprising” part of his decline so quickly. The Yankees “standing by and watching him” do it has nothing to do with anything.

  5. bigmeechy74 - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    One thing the article forgot to mention… It doesnt matter. It means nothing. The Yankees continually make terrible signings, haven’t had much of a farm system, continually get older…. and it doesn’t matter. It means NOTHING. They continually win regardless. Over the past few years I was biding my time thinking “Man, I can’t wait until the Yankees are just all of a sudden old overnight. All those Royals prospects will have arrived, the Orioles pitching prospects will be blossoming, the Jays and Rays will pass them etc.” Nope. Didn’t mean anything. They just continually win with crappy players like vernon wells, jayson nix, lyle overbay etc. They get great pitching from guys that are almost 40. They will ALWAYS be good no matter what. This article is pointless.

    • tuberippin - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:58 PM

      Were you not around for the 80s and early 90s? The Yankees are not an infallible franchise, and within the next two years they are probably pretty screwed.

      * Jeter is hobbling around, is on the last year of his contract, and will likely retire after the season. They have no viable replacement for him at shortstop.

      * Alex Rodriguez has the hips of a 70-year-old man and will be doing more DHing than playing in the infield over the remainder of his contract (~$105,000,000).

      * Andy Pettitte might get another year, but he’s also likely to retire, leaving another hole in the rotation.

      * CC Sabathia is getting by, but his velocity continues to diminish. 110 innings deep into this season, he’s essentially a league-average pitcher (ERA+ of 101, league average is 100). He’s due between $76,000,000 and $96,000,000 through 2017 depending on whether his $25,000,000 option vests (it vests as long as he doesn’t suffer a left shoulder injury in 2016).

      * Vernon Wells has hit below .200 since May 1st, has a .637 OPS, .224 average, and is 28% below league-average as a hitter (OPS+ of 72). For all of his April magic, he’s due another $21,000,000 next year.

      * Robinson Cano is currently in his prime, but signing him to a long-term deal (which the Yankees are of course likely to do) means he’ll get at least $138,000,000 (what the Mets paid David Wright on his new deal). And he has stated to friends that he is looking for A-Rod money, $275,000,000 range. So again, if they do re-sign him, they’d be paying him a premium amount of money for diminishing returns, as he is already 30 and will likely begin to decline within the next couple of years.

      * Mo is of course retiring this year, meaning the 9th inning will no longer be a lock for the Yankees.

      They can win a few games with scrappy players, but to think that they could go a full season in baseball’s most competitive division with a team of washed-up players like Overbay or Nix or Wells taking up a ton of ABs is to think erroneously.

      • bigmeechy74 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:09 PM

        That’s exactly my point. I realize every single thing you said is true. That’s why I keep expecting them to suck. But they don’t. They keep winning and it’s incredibly annoying. Those washed up players go 1 for 5 most of the time but somehow that 1 hit always ends up in the 8th inning and a huge 2 out rbi. If you look at their lineup, it’s literally almost as bad as the marlins and astros. And for some reason their pitching staff is great. Guys like david phelps etc. And I know Kuroda is good but he is 38 and he shouldn’t be having a better season than price, strasburg, greinke, and verlander. It’s completely ridiculous that they are 7 or 8 games over .500

      • Glenn - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        But is you’ve noticed, they have been very lucky this year so far. With their run differential, they should be .500.

      • rawstalk - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        Wells is indeed awful, but the Yankees aren’t on the hook for the $21 million next year. They are paying him $13 million combined for this year and next (which is still too much).

      • tuberippin - Jun 27, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Ah, my apologies. I thought the Angels were covering only a portion of this year’s salary and not next year’s as well. That does make it a little more palatable, but I agree that it’s still a terrible deal for a guy hitting below league average.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:23 PM

      From 1982 to 1994, the Yankees didn’t make the postseason even one time…

      They do not always win regardless…

      • turdfurgerson68 - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        The Paschal Perez/Matt Nokes/Ken Phelps/ era.

        Fond memories of them bygone days.

    • thevauntedchris - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      They don’t “keep winning” with bad players. This is the first year I’ve ever seen this amount of a team’s good players get injured. They were skating on luck the first month or two, which happens in baseball all the time. Regression has been hard and fast lately, like most smart fans could have predicted by looking at their run differential..and even just the players they are having to trot out there. What Yankee games are you watching? Pretty sure they are 14-19 in their last 33 games..and might even still have a negative run differential.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:14 PM

        I was just talking to a friend about how the Yanks’ season has been the worst I can recall as far as serious injuries to important players. Even for an aging team, this has been an absolute shitstorm.

    • buddaley - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      The problem I have with this sort of post is that it smacks of magical thinking, as if there is some special aura or mysterious force that allows the Yankees to win regardless of the talent or lack of it.

      If they have been winning more than losing, there are reasons for it, and it is not because of some special ability to get the big hit more often than other teams or some design in the universe that favors them. As others have noted, the franchise has had lengthy periods of poor results. The late 60s, early 70s were a long drought as were most of the 80s. And although they have only missed the playoffs once in the 2000s, the fact is they did miss it and have been bounced in the first round 5 times while making the World Series twice after 2002.

      They certainly have a stellar record this century, but not one to suggest there is something mysterious about them or that they will always be good. It seems to me that such comments (“The will ALWAYS be good”, “it doesn’t matter”, It means nothing”) are pointless, not the recognition of real concerns Yankee fans should have about their near future.

      The fact that key players on the Yankees are old, injury prone and/or not very good does matter and means a great deal. It means that the management will have to figure out ways to use its resources effectively, and that it will be harder than usual to do it (but not necessarily impossible). The Yankees are not immune to problems created by an old roster, but they also have many and varied resources to address such problems. Whether they do so remains to be seen.

  6. pjmitch - Jun 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Maybe one day baseball owners will learn. Probably not, but I am an Optimist.

    • chill1184 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      I have a feeling that the huge contracts will eventually hit its peak

      • Glenn - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:36 PM

        Not as long as those huge cable deals keep rolling in. We’ve been saying big contracts were over for a long time, but they keep coming.

    • bigmeechy74 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:09 PM

      Maybe one day baseball owners will learn. Probably not, but I am an Optometrist

    • Anoesis - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:57 PM

      Perhaps Guggenheim is paying attention. I sure hope so.

  7. bluesoxbaseball - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Isn’t the WBC on the hook for Teixeira’s salary now?

  8. thebigtim2012 - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    Thank god he chose the Yankees over the Sox. I was pretty bummed when it first went down but hindsight being what is is both him and a-roid could be sox right now. We had our own terrible contracts but at least we suckered the dodgers into taking them.

  9. unclemosesgreen - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    By my calculations (using Fangraphs “value” cuz I’m lazy) the Yankees are at minus $30 million on this contract at the end of this season, and the WBC insurance kept it from being closer to minus $50 million.

    3 finishing seasons that average his 2011 performance would take it down another $13.5 million in total. I’m pretty sure the Yanks would be thrilled with that scenario – I’m going to go ahead and assign that a probability of 15%.

  10. 13arod - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    theskinsman jeter doesn’t have a big contract only getting paid 15 million a year

    • bravojawja - Jun 27, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      And this is what’s wrong with the Yankees and their fans. Somehow, $15 million is “only.”

      Just one player on the Braves is making $15 million this season (BJ Upton got a $3 million signing bonus, plus $12.45 million salary). I shudder to think what the Marlins’ players are making.

  11. chunkala - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:56 PM


    • Anoesis - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:58 PM

      5 x 5.

  12. chunkala - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Just another example of a player that can’t handle the pressure of NY. He would have had 5 straight 40+ HR seasons had he signed with ATL. Add him to the list – Whitson, Brown, Rogers, Phelps, too late to think of the countless others. Otherwise, I like the guy but he can’t hack it. He would have had 200+ homers in Fenway had he chose the Red Sox too.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:26 AM

      He would have had 200+ homers in Fenway had he chose the Red Sox too.

      Yes, because when I think of calm, easy places to play, the first place I think of is Boston…

      • turdfurgerson68 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        Nah, he’d be as washed up in Boston as he is now in NY.

        Thankfully Cashman swooped in at the last moment and saved the Sox from another onerous contract.

        Once again, another example of Cashman being Cashman and overpaying (thanks for including some relavant stats Matt; Cashman apologists sometimes need to see the cold hard truth in writing!)

        Cashman! Cashman!

      • turdfurgerson68 - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        Will Cashman be back in 2014 when doesn’t have 200+ million to play with anymore?

    • pisano - Jun 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      ….and most Yankee fans have prayed that he’d have gone to the Red Sox. Like the saying goes:” I wouldn’t wish him on my worst enemy ” believe me Yankee fans would wish him on the Sox, but the Sox would have hosed the Dodgers with Tex.

  13. jkaflagg - Jun 27, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    Tex was a key player on a World Champion, which is all that matters to the Yankees…..and he was reasonably healthy until he came to New York. Although I’m sure both he and the Yankees expected more, you can’t really call him (or Sabathia) bad signings; since the Boss stepped aside many years ago, they really haven’t had any disaster signings along the lines of Whitson or Pavano…It’s just a lot tougher to compete these days in the AL East…..

  14. moogro - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:52 AM

    Tex has a fat butt.

  15. nbjays - Jun 27, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    Wow, 34 comments so far and not one “DOOM!” from Historiophiliac.

    I’m shocked… shocked I tell ya!

  16. northstarsmitty - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I love how the teams success hides the fact they are one of the worst organizations in baseball. They have no idea how to evaluate players. They just throw money into the laps of any big, power hitting type of players and see if it works. The contracts they gave to CC, Texeira, and A-Rod are some of the worst in all of sports history. Not a single team in any other sport would have given them that much money, for that long, at thier present ages, regardless if they could afford to or not. It was pure foolish and promoted the idea they have a garbage farm system and plan to never develop, and always spend on the hot bat for a few years. I hope Boston throttles them for the pennant year after year for decades to come!!!

  17. byjiminy - Jun 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    This is all such music to my ears! Recipe for disaster…ahhh!

    Go, Twins!

  18. thejrod2006 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    After watching A-Rod do nothing this season, and knowing they still owe him a ridiculous amount of money for the next 4 seasons after this one, the Yankees would be foolish to give Cano a blank check.

    I know Cano is currently in his prime and would be a tough pill to swallow, but if recent history has taught us anything, it’s that giving 8-10 year contracts to guys on the wrong side of 30 don’t work. Not to mention he’s probably been roiding the whole time….I’d let him become somebody else’s headache in 2016 and beyond.

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