Jump to content

TodaysKnuckleball: What is an Awful Contract?


Recommended Posts


Robinson Cano?s contract no longer meshes with his production. Is his $240 million deal the worst in baseball today? We take a look into that question.

After the 2013 season, Robinson Cano, arguably the best second baseman in baseball, surprised everyone by electing to explore free agency instead of immediately re-signing with the New York Yankees ? the only team he had played with during his nine-year career. Still, it was widely assumed that he would become the next in a line of Yankees to play his entire career wearing pinstripes (Jeter, Rivera, Posada, etc.).

In December of that year, he further shocked the baseball community when he signed with the Seattle Mariners for 10 years and $240 million. The Yankees? highest offer reportedly came in at $175 million for seven years and Cano, under the new management of rapper Jay-Z and his company Roc Nation, got the Mariners to blow the Yankees? right out of the water.

Now a little over a season and a half of baseball has been played and some are wondering whether or not Cano?s contract was worth it for the Mariners. It?s even been said that his contract ? one which binds him to the Mariners for the next eight seasons ? might be the worst contract in baseball.

MLB: MAY 03 Mariners at Astros

It?s certainly never a great idea, even though it is done all the time, to give players contracts based on past performance. It?s obviously better to look at the player?s potential and expected future performance; while that is seen in baseball from time to time, more often than not, contracts are based on the former option.

Let?s get one thing clear: Cano?s contract is not the worst contract in all of baseball.

Yes, it is true that Cano?s numbers post-Yankees have dropped. The then five-time All-Star became a six-time All-Star in 2014 and batted .314 on the year, so it?s hard to say they dropped, but his home runs were cut almost in half from 27 in 2013 to 14 in 2014, which can partially (but only partially) be explained by making the move to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

However, he also knocked in 25 fewer runs in 2013 than in 2014, which is also somewhat odd for the then 31-year-old whose numbers had been pretty consistent his entire career with the Yankees, especially from 2009 to 2013. Between 2009-2013 he averaged 29 home runs and 104 RBI. During his nine-year career as a Yankee, Cano had averaged 25 home runs and 97 RBI a year while in New York.

Besides his numbers, what attracted the Mariners to Cano was his durability. He was also not one to be on the disabled list while with the Yankees; in all but his first two seasons in the big leagues, Cano never played in fewer than 159 games a season. He?s always been consistent in terms of health. He made it through 2013 and 2014 without any major incident. However, as the rest of the world found out later, he?d played the last two months of 2014 with a stomach ailment but did not require a stint on the disabled list.

In 2014, Cano?s numbers had dropped but not significantly. In 2015, the overall drop has been sharp. Although Cano has admitted to the stomach ailment still continuing to hinder his play, the career .307 hitter is currently batting just .268 on the year, putting him on pace to finish the season with the worst batting average of his entire career.

MLB: JUL 19 Mariners at Angels

As of the All-Star break, however, Cano has had a bit of a resurrgence and the Mariners are starting to see the player that they are paying $24 million a year to see. Between April and June, Cano hit just .248 with just six home runs. Since mid-July he?s raised his average to .268 while hitting eight home runs. In just a month, he?s doubled his number of home runs. Signs of the old Robinson Cano are showing again and it is just too soon to call Cano?s $240 million contract the worst in baseball today.

There are certainly other big contracts out there that teams are regretting. Most notable would be the one between the Detroit Tigers and their former ace Justin Verlander, who in 2011 won the American League Cy Young Award and was named the league?s MVP. Verlander had another stellar year in 2012, leading the Tigers to an AL Pennant; he was signed to a five-year, $145 million contract extension in early 2013.

Verlander has not been the same pitcher since. He?s had multiple stints on the disabled list, the velocity on his fastball has dropped and he?s had trouble getting strikeouts even on hitters with an 0-2 count. His lack of strikeouts means that his pitch counts have gone up and he?s not able to go deep into games anymore, putting stress on the Tigers? bullpen, which has never had a very good reputation.

Making $28 million a year while posting a 5.05 ERA makes Verlander virtually untradable. So it appears that unless there is some kind of resurrection of his old fastball and he begins being the strikeout pitcher that he once was, that Detroit is stuck with him for the foreseeable future.

Verlander?s contract extension also made it almost impossible for the team to negotiate a new contract with the new ace of the Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer. They low-balled him on an extension, he opted for free agency and has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this season.

There are possibly other contracts out there that are worse than Verlander?s, like perhaps the contract extension that was given to his Triple Crown-winning teammate, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera signed an eight-year contract extension back in 2008 worth $152 million.

06 AUGUST 2015: Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) is seen in the dugout during a regular season game between the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers played at Comerica Park in Detroit, MI.

In early 2014, the Tigers extended Cabrera?s contract another eight years for another $248 million, meaning that the second extension doesn?t even begin until 2016. No matter how Cabrera, who is currently on the disabled list with a grade-three calf strain he suffered in early July, has played since his back-to-back MVP seasons, there is no way that this contract doesn?t end poorly for the Tigers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Making $28 million a year while posting a 5.05 ERA makes Verlander virtually untradable. So it appears that unless there is some kind of resurrection of his old fastball and he begins being the strikeout pitcher that he once was, that Detroit is stuck with him for the foreseeable future.
Hmmm, reminds me a bit of another guy signed in 2014 with a huge contract that posted an ERA near 5 which made him virtually untradable. Instead, he got demoted to the pen and received extra coaching to fix his mechanics, help with fastball command, and continued with his development of other pitches. He won his spot back in the rotation during ST and, in the 2015 season, has resurrected his career.

Perhaps similar methods could work for Verlander.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Posts

    • I think Kremer will be in the pen for the playoffs.   I think he can be a weapon out of the bullpen for us this year. Next year I imagine he will pitch in the rotation and continue to improve.  I see this guy pitching in MLB for a long time.  He has the drive and desire to be great.  He improves and adapts as he goes along.     I think they need to try and add and impact starter in the off-seasons and push competition.  I’d like to see two impact relief arms as well.     I’m not in the “the sky is falling” camp right now, but the last few weeks have shown the importance of high quality depth.  You can’t have too much talent. 
    • I bought tickets from the Birdland members presale. My wife and I have a 13-game plan. When it said you could only buy one set of tickets per series, I assumed that meant one pair for the Wild Card Series, one for the ALDS, and one for the ALCS. But I'm seeing people online say that they bought tickets for two games in the ALDS and one for the ALCS. I didn't realize that I could distribute my three games any way I wanted. Now I'm annoyed that I wasted tickets on two series that might not happen at all.
    • The Orioles have one more loss at home than on the road. So I would say about the same. The Rays on the other hand are .663 at home (53-27) vs. .553 on the road (42-34). The Orioles have Bradish and GRod going against the Nationals, at home, after a day off. They should win those games. If they win tomorrow, too, the deed would be nearly done by Wed. Winning tomorrow is not essential, they would be still in good shape with a loss. But it would help to avoid going deep into the week to resolve this.
    • Do you need five starters in a playoff series? I think you only need four. In fact, your #1 could pitch three times in a seven-game series. Bumgarten (sp?) used to do that for SF and dominate.
    • Jim Palmer said John Means pitched himself into the #2 spot of the Playoff rotation. I agree. Especially because it gives us a 1, 2, 3 punch between the contrast mix of Means being a finess LHP compared to the RHP Power Pitcher that Grayson is starting right behind him. 1. Kyle Bradish 2. John Means 3. Grayson Rodriguez 4. Kyle Gibson or Dean Kremer 5. Manager's discretionary choice. (See how the series is going and decide a plan.)   I kind of wish we had another LHP who would be good enough to mix into the rotation because if you can mix thins up successfully it prevents the other team from getting away with being 1 dimensional.
    • John Means looked like an Ace tonight. I agree with Jim Palmer who said that Means pitched himself into the #2 spot of the playoff rotation.  So the way I currently see the playoff rotation... 1. Bradish 2. Means 3. Rodriguez  4. Gibson/Kremer 5. Kremer/Gibson
  • Popular Contributors

  • Create New...