I know this topic has been discussed often, but after the Phillies gave A.J. Burnett 16 million dollars yesterday I felt the need to chime in. Sorry I’m not sorry.
I’m a capitalist like most rational humans. So when I see someone like Robinson Cano sign a 240 million dollar contract I don’t think to myself, “what an asshole! Nobody needs that kind of money.” If some owner is willing to pay him that kind of coin to play baseball Cano would be a fool not to take it. Being a capitalist though does not stop me from shaking my head at the unfathomable stupidity of MLB owners who throw cash, or “fun coupons” as Leo calls them in Wolf of Wall Street at aging players each off season.
The 2013/2014 MLB off season was no different. Once again baseball’s winter meetings, which should really be called the Imbecile’s Auction, kicked off the spending spree. The aforementioned Cano ditched his previous agency to sign on with rookie agent Jay-Z. In most situations choosing the inexperienced and rudimentarily trained person over the experienced and properly educated individual would be deemed unwise. But that isn’t the case with MLB players, their agents, and the owners with whom they negotiate their contract. MLB contract negotiations are so easy that Jay-Z was able to get the Seattle Mariners to offer a 30 year old Cano the 3rd highest (10 years 240 million) paying contract of all time, behind Alex Rodriguez’s two contracts and Joey Votto’s. Cano’s decision was roughly the equivalent of O.J. passing on Cochran, Shapiro, and Bailey for Knight, Dre, Dogg & Death Row Associates. But since this is MLB, where rational thought is suspended, Cano’s pockets didn’t suffer at all from his decision to go with the infant sports agency.
The exorbitant spending didn’t end with Cano. Big market owners were trampling over one another for the opportunity to give guys like Jacoby “Day-to-Day” Ellsbury and Brian “Sore Back” McCann 8 figure deals. The St Louis Cardinals front office, who is probably the best in baseball, gave Jhonny Peralta a 4 year 53 million dollar deal. The same Jhonny Peralta who accepted a 50 game suspension last year, and is now one Adderall away from a 100 game suspension. Even the typically frugal Minnesota Twins got in on the spending this off season leading to the following headlines below.
If you are having trouble reading the screen shot the two headlines with the arrows read, “Twins sign Nolasco to record contract” and “Twins sign innings-eating Ricky Nolasco to four-year $49 million deal.” Nolasco’s career ERA is 4.37 and he has only eclipsed 200 innings twice in his 8 year career. Despite those numbers Nolasco will be paid more this year than 2X NBA All-Star Joakim Noah and only $100,000 less than Serge Ibaka, who is arguably the second best player on the team with the best record in the NBA.
The NBA certainly has its share of bad contracts floating out there, I’m looking at you Josh Smith, but the number of bad MLB contracts far outnumber the number of bad NBA contracts. Seven of the highest paid players this off-season are Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Brian McCann, Shin Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and A.J. Burnett. Here is where those seven players would rank among the top NBA contracts.
The MLB contracts are what the average yearly salary will be over the life of the contract.
|1||Kobe Bryant||Los Angeles Lakers||$30,453,805|
|2||Robinson Cano||Seattle Mariners||$24,000,000|
|3||Jacoby Ellsbury||New York Yankees||$21,800,000|
|4||Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks||$22,721,381|
|5||Amar’e Stoudemire||New York Knicks||$21,679,893|
|6||Joe Johnson||Brooklyn Nets||$21,466,718|
|7||Carmelo Anthony||New York Knicks||$21,388,953|
|8||Dwight Howard||Houston Rockets||$20,513,178|
|9||Pau Gasol||Los Angeles Lakers||$19,285,850|
|10||Chris Bosh||Miami Heat||$19,067,500|
|11||LeBron James||Miami Heat||$19,067,500|
|12||Dwyane Wade||Miami Heat||$18,673,000|
|13||Chris Paul||Los Angeles Clippers||$18,668,431|
|14||Shin Soo Choo||Texas Rangers||$18,600,000|
|15||Deron Williams||Brooklyn Nets||$18,466,130|
|16||Zach Randolph||Memphis Grizzlies||$18,238,333|
|17||Rudy Gay||Sacramento Kings||$17,888,932|
|18||Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||$17,832,627|
|19||Derrick Rose||Chicago Bulls||$17,632,688|
|20||Brian McCann||New York Yankees||$17,000,000|
|21||Blake Griffin||Los Angeles Clippers||$16,441,500|
|22||A.J. Burnett||Philadelphia Phillies||$16,000,000|
|23||Paul Pierce||Brooklyn Nets||$15,333,334|
|24||Carlos Boozer||Chicago Bulls||$15,300,000|
|25||Curtis Granderson||New York Mets||$15,000,000|
|26||Carlos Beltran||New York Yankees||$15,000,000|
|27||LaMarcus Aldridge||Portland Trail Blazers||$14,878,000|
|28||Marc Gasol||Memphis Grizzlies||$14,860,523|
|29||Brook Lopez||Brooklyn Nets||$14,693,906|
|30||Kevin Love||Minnesota Timberwolves||$14,693,906|
|31||Russell Westbrook||Oklahoma City Thunder||$14,693,906|
|32||Emeka Okafor||Phoenix Suns||$14,487,500|
|33||Roy Hibbert||Indiana Pacers||$14,283,844|
|34||Eric Gordon||New Orleans Pelicans||$14,283,844|
|35||Luol Deng||Cleveland Cavaliers||$14,275,000|
|36||Tyson Chandler||New York Knicks||$14,100,537|
|37||Danny Granger||Indiana Pacers||$14,021,788|
|38||Andrew Bogut||Golden State Warriors||$14,000,000|
|39||David Lee||Golden State Warriors||$13,878,000|
|40||James Harden||Houston Rockets||$13,701,250|
|41||Al Jefferson||Charlotte Bobcats||$13,500,000|
|42||Josh Smith||Detroit Pistons||$13,500,000|
|43||Ben Gordon||Charlotte Bobcats||$13,200,000|
|45||Andre Iguodala||Golden State Warriors||$12,868,632|
|46||Tony Parker||San Antonio Spurs||$12,500,000|
|47||Kevin Garnett||Brooklyn Nets||$12,433,735|
|48||Serge Ibaka||Oklahoma City Thunder||$12,350,000|
|49||Nikola Pekovic||Minnesota Timberwolves||$12,100,000|
|50||David West||Indiana Pacers||$12,000,000|
|51||Al Horford||Atlanta Hawks||$12,000,000|
|52||Kris Humphries||Boston Celtics||$12,000,000|
|53||Rajon Rondo||Boston Celtics||$11,954,545|
|54||Andrea Bargnani||New York Knicks||$11,862,500|
|55||Tyreke Evans||New Orleans Pelicans||$11,796,247|
|56||Nicolas Batum||Portland Trail Blazers||$11,295,250|
|57||Joakim Noah||Chicago Bulls||$11,100,000|
Where those seven players place on the above list is preposterous when you think of their value to their team compared to the NBA players on the list. Kevin Durant, the league MVP right now, will be making less money than Shin Soo Choo. Choo, a fine player, has never made a single all-star appearance, let alone challenge for an MVP. According to his bio on the Texas Rangers website he did win the MLBPAA Indians Heart and Hustle Award in 2010. So there is that. Furthermore, it isn’t likely fans will be streaming into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this summer to watch Shin Soo Choo patrol left field. Plenty of fans do make their way to the basketball arenas around the country to see Kevin Durant when he comes to town. I also can’t help but think of the joke Bill Simmons’ friend and frequent podcast guest Jack-O always says about doubting Player X will ever be someone he’ll discuss while bouncing his grandkids on his knee. I’m confident in saying Shin Soo Choo qualifies as someone who I’ll never discuss with my future grandchildren. Kevin Durant is an entirely different story.
This coming weekend is NBA All-Star Weekend, and I’d venture to guess there will be a number baseball players in attendance despite pitchers and catchers having reported to camp this week. That photo above is something you’re much more likely to see at a basketball game than a baseball game. So how is it that over the hill baseball talents like A.J. Burnett make roughly the same money as 4X All-Star Blake Griffin. It’s an answer that continues to escape me. Here’s one more chart to illustrate the difference between MLB money and NBA money, the top 50 highest paid players in MLB.
|1||Zack Greinke||Los Angeles Dodgers||$26,000,000|
|2||Cliff Lee||Philadelphia Phillies||$25,000,000|
|3||Ryan Howard||Philadelphia Phillies||$25,000,000|
|4||Prince Fielder||Texas Rangers||$24,000,000|
|5||Robinson Cano||Seattle Mariners||$24,000,000|
|6||Cole Hamels||Philadelphia Phillies||$23,500,000|
|7||Mark Teixeira||New York Yankees||$23,125,000|
|8||C.C. Sabathia||New York Yankees||$23,000,000|
|9||Joe Mauer||Minnesota Twins||$23,000,000|
|10||Albert Pujols||Los Angeles Angels||$23,000,000|
|11||Felix Hernandez||Seattle Mariners||$22,857,142|
|12||Miguel Cabrera||Detroit Tigers||$22,000,000|
|13||Masahiro Tanaka||New York Yankees||$22,000,000|
|14||Adrian Gonzalez||Los Angeles Dodgers||$21,857,142|
|15||Matt Kemp||Los Angeles Dodgers||$21,250,000|
|16||Jacoby Ellsbury||New York Yankees||$21,142,857|
|17||Carl Crawford||Los Angeles Dodgers||$21,107,142|
|18||Matt Cain||San Francisco Giants||$20,833,333|
|19||Jayson Werth||Washington Nationals||$20,571,428|
|20||David Wright||New York Mets||$20,000,000|
|21||Justin Verlander||Detroit Tigers||$20,000,000|
|22||Adam Wainwright||St Louis Cardinals||$19,500,000|
|23||Mark Buehrle||Toronto Blue Jays||$19,000,000|
|24||Josh Hamilton||Los Angeles Angels||$17,400,000|
|25||Josh Beckett||Los Angeles Dodgers||$17,000,000|
|26||Matt Holiday||St Louis Cardinals||$17,000,000|
|27||Adrian Beltre||Texas Rangers||$17,000,000|
|28||Tim Lincecum||San Francisco Giants||$17,000,000|
|29||Brian McCann||New York Yankees||$17,000,000|
|30||C.J. Wilson||Los Angeles Angels||$16,500,000|
|31||Jered Weaver||Los Angeles Angels||$16,200,000|
|32||Troy Tulowitzki||Colorado Rockies||$16,000,000|
|33||Hanley Ramirez||Los Angeles Dodgers||$16,000,000|
|34||Jose Reyes||Toronto Blue Jays||$16,000,000|
|35||Aramis Ramirez||Milwaukee Brewers||$16,000,000|
|36||Ian Kinsler||Detroit Tigers||$16,000,000|
|37||Hunter Pence||San Francisco Giants||$16,000,000|
|38||Mike Napoli||Boston Red Sox||$16,000,000|
|39||Hiroki Kuroda||New York Yankees||$16,000,000|
|40||A.J. Burnett||Philadelphia Phillies||$16,000,000|
|41||John Lackey||Boston Red Sox||$15,950,000|
|42||Anibal Sanchez||Detroit Tigers||$15,800,000|
|43||John Danks||Chicago White Sox||$15,750,000|
|44||Max Scherzer||Detroit Tigers||$15,525,000|
|45||Andre Ethier||Los Angeles Dodgers||$15,500,000|
|46||David Ortiz||Boston Red Sox||$15,500,000|
|47||Jhonny Peralta||St Louis Cardinals||$15,500,000|
|48||Nick Markakis||Baltimore Orioles||$15,350,000|
|49||Yadier Molina||St Louis Cardinals||$15,200,000|
|50||Adam Dunn||Chicago White Sox||$15,000,000|
|51||Nick Swisher||Cleveland Indians||$15,000,000|
|52||Chase Utley||Philadelphia Phillies||$15,000,000|
|53||Carlos Beltran||New York Yankees||$15,000,000|
Baseball money is in a totally different stratosphere than basketball money. And yet the NBA players are the ones always starring in the commercials. Again the disparity in compensation escapes me. This season the Yankees will pay $74,000,000 between their three off-season additions (Tanaka, McCann, Beltran) if you include the $20,000,000 posting fee the Yankees paid in order to negotiate with Tanaka. The entire NBA champion Miami Heat’s payroll this season is $81,328,143. With the more modest numbers it’s much easier for the Heat organization to earn a profit each year opposed to the baseball teams that spend well into the hundreds of millions.
There are 19 players in baseball who will make more money than Lebron James this year. That list includes Masahiro Tanaka, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jayson Werth. And earning just $67,500 less than Lebron James, the innings-eating emperor Mark Buehrle.
One guy did this last night. Take notice of the clock. That’s to go along with 2 NBA titles, 2 NBA Finals MVP awards, 4 league MVP awards, and 10 All-Star appearances.
The other guy’s career accolades include, 1 World Series title, 4 All-Star appearances, 4 Gold Gloves, 1 no-hitter, and 1 perfect game.
Buehrle has had a very successful MLB career, but he is getting paid roughly the same as Lebron James, who may very well go down as the greatest player of all time when his career ends.
So keep shelling out them ducats MLB owners! But know this, you could be spending a lot less owning an NBA team and getting to watch athletes like Lebron James on a nightly basis as opposed to paying Andre Ethier 15 million bucks to pick peanuts out of his ass in the dugout.
All salary numbers courtesy of bballinsiders.com and spotrac.com so thanks guys.