More Than Longoria

Since his debut in 2008, Evan Longoria has been one of the most valuable players in baseball according to Wins Above Replacement. Even scarier: Evan Longoria is only 25. But the main reason he’s most likely going to be at the top of Trade Value Leaderboard again this season is his ridiculous contract. The contract has been discussed many times, so I’ll just list the years and payouts of his contract as reported at Cot’s (in millions of dollars): 2008: $0.5, 2009: $0.55, 2010: $0.95, 2011: $2, 2012: $4.5, 2013: $6, 2014: $7.5 club option ($3 buyout), 2015: $11M club option, 2016: $11.5M club option.

There is no need to repeat how incredible the contract is for the team, the circumstances under which it was signed, or the effect it might have had on agent malpractice insurance premiums. It is generally understood that when pre-arbitration players get “locked up,” the contracts are almost always favorable to the team. Such players will be paid far less than less-talented, older players on the free agent market. However, for a different perspective on how much value this contract gives Longoria, let’s take a look at some of the lesser free agents of 2011 who will be getting paid more than Longoria in the coming season, while giving readers a chance to weigh in on how they are likely to perform.

It isn’t not a revelation that the big name free agents like Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee, Adrian Beltre, Adam Dunn, and the like are going to make so much more than Evan Longoria next season. Even for lesser veterans like Lance Berkman, Paul Konerko, Carl Pavano, and Aubrey Huff it isn’t a huge surprise. That’s just how the system works. To put the Longoria contract in perspective, let’s take a look at some of the lesser offseason signings that guarantee the player more in 2011 than Longoria’s $2 million salary. All values are as listed by Cot’s unless otherwise noted.

For example, Jim Thome was a huge bargain for the Twins last season, and he’s a really nice deal at $3 million guaranteed, but no one thinks he’s in Longoria’s class as a player. Adam LaRoche managed to parlay his consistent adequacy into a $7 million 2011 paycheck, the same amount the Enigmatic Javier Vazquez will make in coming off of his disastrous 2010. Fellow “third baseman” Edwin Encarnacion is guaranteed $2.5 million including his buyout, and Bill Hall will get more from the Astros in 2011 than Longoria, too. The Tigers’ All-Mediocre left side of the infield, Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge, will each make more than twice what Evan will in 2011. Zombie Edgar Renteria just edges Longoria out at $2.1 million for 2011. Heck, Ty Wigginton will get $4 million this season to come off the bench for the Rockies.

Speaking of former Tampa Bay players, some of Evan’s former teammates other than the Amazing Carl Crawford did pretty well for themselves on the free agent market. There’s the ridiculous Rafael Soriano deal, of course, but Carlos Pena showed that he may indeed be the Smartest Man in Baseball by getting $10 million guaranteed coming off one of his worst seasons in years. Grant Balfour will be making more than Longoria in 2011, too, as he comes out of the bullpen for Oakland. Potential one-year wonder Joaquin Benoit will make $5.5 million a year for the next three years.

Some of the newest Rays should probably look into buying dinner for Longoria every once in a while, too. Sure, Manny Ramirez is only making the same $2 million in 2011, but Johnny Damon is making more than twice that. But hey, if Manny and Evan ever find themselves in a tight spot, they can always borrow cash from your hero and mine: Kyle ‘Pr0f3550r’ Farnsworth ($2.7 million guaranteed, plus a $0.55 million buyout on his 2012 club option).

…and speaking of relievers, it has been noted that Longoria is going to be paid like a middle reliever for the prime years of his contract. In 2011, he’ll wish that were the case. Soriano and Benoit were just the bookend of the rash of three-year deals given out to relievers this offseason. Jesse Crain will make twice Longoria’s salary in the first season of his three-years with the White Sox. Scott Downs will make even more than that with the Angels. Matt Guerrier might be making more than Longoria in 2011: he is guaranteed $12 million for his three-year contract with the Dodgers, but although he only gets a paycheck of $1.5 in 2011, his $3 million signing bonus is paid out in four installments through 2014 (that’s right, after his contract is over), so who knows? It wasn’t just the three-year deals, either: Pedro Feliciano is averaging $4 million over the next two years, and J.J. Putz will get that amount in 2011. Brian Fuentes will make $5 million in 2011. Jose Contreras remembers when Abner Doubleday invented baseball, and he’ll be making $2.5 million in 2011. Despite his ERA disaster in 2011, even Chad Qualls will make over two million dollars in 2011 if his club option for 2012 doesn’t get picked up. I’m always interested in how fans project relievers (typically the most neglected projections), but however it goes, these deals should put into perspective how incredible the Longoria contract is for Tampa Bay.

It isn’t all bad. Longoria stands to make just as much as Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen in 2011… provided they don’t meet any of their incentives. Hey, at least Evan is guaranteed more from the Rays than Melky Cabrera or Willie Bloomquist. That’s nice, since they both made considerably more in 2010 than Longoria’s $0.95 million salary.

There are many others, but you get the idea. I feel pretty comfortable saying that Longoria is considerably more valuable than any of these players, but it will be interesting to get fan projections of them (especially the relievers) to see just how much.

Oh, yeah, one last player who is has a higher 2011 guarantee than Evan Longoria: this guy.

What do you think? Click here to enter your 2011 projections for some of the mentioned players.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

61 Responses to “More Than Longoria”

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  1. Lewis says:

    Jeff Francouer: Stud

    +32 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Erik says:

    How much is Mo Vaughn getting from the Mets this year?

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Norm says:

    Isn’t Bobby Bonilla getting paid more money from the Mets?

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  4. Jim Lahey says:

    On the plus side for Evan, he is getting paid 2 times as much as Bobby Bonilla next season.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Mike says:

    “…..or the effect it might have had on agent malpractice insurance premiums.”

    I think this statement is made with the benefit of hindsight, but the deal made perfect sense for both agent and player when it was signed.

    Evan Longoria made his major league debut on April 12th 2008. On April 18th, with six days of service time under his belt, he signed a deal that guaranteed him a minimum of $17.5 million.

    When a team offers that much money, a player with such little service time would be a fool to turn it down. In fact, I’m surprised other teams haven’t struck similar deals since; they have all the leverage at that point (except against Scott Boras clients, of course) and it’s such a low risk for them.

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    • Junker23 says:

      Made sense for Longoria to sign it at the time, but he’s gotta be pretty bummed about it now. I can imagine most players would be screaming for a new contract.

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      • Paul says:

        Longoria’s contract…

        yes he is underpaid, and maybe he and his agent even knew it at the time, but there is some upside to what he did:-

        1) starts his career early – he gets to play at 22, 23 etc.. – gives him a much better shot at the HoF, and to make money later on in his career (if you don’t think an early start is important, ask Chase Utley and poss. Ryan Howard in a few years if they would’ve like to start their HoF caliber careers a bit earlier) – this is important becasue…

        2) many teams, and especially those under salary contraints like the Rays would want hold back their best players so that they can maximise their cost-contolled years during the players peak

        If the choice to Longoria was:-

        a) sign this 17mil guaranteed contract and it means you get your shot at an everyday gig; or,

        b) don’t sign and spend the next 3 years in the minors

        then he might have reasonably forgone the cash to play

        And the knocks on his agent…well maybe they are valid, but who knows, the agent ultimately gets overruled by the player, if Longoria wanted to play and instructed his agent to get the best contract he could to enable him to play in the majors right away, then maybe the agent did a decent job.

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      • noseeum says:

        Paul, that makes no sense. The choice for Longoria wasn’t minors or this contract. It was this contract or playing in the majors with a standard rookie contract, getting paid peanuts for a couple of years, and hitting arbitration. Or third, playing his rookie year, and THEN negotiating an extension.

        He wasn’t going to be sent down to the minors if he didn’t sign.

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    • Sure, that’s a valid point. But you gotta read this kinda stuff imagining my tongue halfway into my cheek.

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    • MikeS says:

      You are right.

      Looking at some extremes:

      1) He far outplays his contract. He signed away some of his free agent years. he stays healthy. he makes more than $40M but missed out on maybe the same amount. But he’s healthy, 31 and the top FA on the market. In line for maybe $100M or more. What a shame. he has to live his life on only $140M.

      2) He gets hurt on the last day of 2016. he has to live on only $40M and missed out on same. Never makes another dime.

      3) He gets hurt the day after he signs it. He is stuck with only $17.5M.

      4) He doesn’t sign the contract and gets hurt or flames out, costing himself most of the $17.5. Maybe he has to get by on less than 1 million and he’s not yet 25. This is the only way he ever has to work again.

      Look, I know the owners are a bunch of rich guys and they don’t need this money either but I just don’t see a real big downside in “only” getting $17.5M

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    • Ben says:

      Sure, at that very time it made sense for him to sign for guaranteed millions. However, it wasn’t as if he was forced to signing a contract at that specific time. If he had waited, even a year or two, he would have been in line for much much, more money.

      Hopefully New Era is hooking him up a bit while he hovers averages 4 mil a year for the next three seasons.

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  6. Matt says:

    Most valuable player in sports

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    • Joe says:

      Ummmm, no…. unless you are doing the typical $/WAR thinking that seems to pervade all arguments these days. There were a few people more valuable than Longo in baseball last year (just look at the WAR leaders or whatever statistic you prefer). Don’t confuse the best “bargain” with most valuable….

      If I buy a slow computer but pay only pennies for it… does it somehow become the most valuable or is it simply a great deal or bargain?

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      • Ricky says:

        Sir: are you saying Evan Longoria is a slow computer?

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      • fredsbank says:

        you almost had a valid point until you called longoria a slow computer, yeah he might not be packing a liquid-cooled i7 xtreme six-core, but at the same time, he’s hardly a mac

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      • Joe says:

        I’m saying there’s a difference between value and what you pay for the value… if I buy a 4 karat diamond for 2million and a 4.5karat diamond for 4 million which diamond is more valuable?

        Does that make folks feel better? (or will people argue over the dollar amount now?)

        It is a valid point because the comparison is not between Longoria and a slow computer, it’s a comparison to $ spent on relative value… but why would I expect folks to understand that nuance? He’s a great player – most valuable in all sports? Hardly. Best investment or bargain – certainly arguable.

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  7. Dave says:

    Really though, he’s in his first arb year (though I think he would have been super two last year) So that 2 mil is roughly 40% of his supposed value – 5 mil. Still absurdly low, but it does knock quite afew names off your list.

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    • Sure. But it’s not meant to be a detailed analysis (I wanted to do something different in this post) along those lines. It’s more, “here’s what $2 million is getting the Rays as opposed to other stuff out there.” It’s the entertaining absurdity of the situation that’s fun to look at.

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  8. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Maybe other teams will chip in to correct this injustice, similar to Yuniesky Betancourt.

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  9. MTUCache says:

    Assuming that an injury is equally likely to happen at any time between the ages of 25 and 30 (a large assumption), I think this was a positive deal for both club and player. He’s guaranteed $17.5M, even if he has a career-ending injury back in 2009. He has no idea what the market will bear for his option years ($11M&$11.5M may be perfectly reasonable still in ’15/’16).

    And, to top it all off, if he stays healthy he’s reaching free agency right at the peak of his marketability (30 years old), plenty of time to get a large and lengthy contract wherever the big-money is by then.

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  10. chazz says:

    Has Longoria ever publically said anything about his contract? Like how in the F*** did this happen to me?

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  11. James says:

    I think this commentary is more reflective of what’s wrong with the system as a whole. Not whether or not it was a good/bad move by agent/GM at the time–like Mike pointed out above, it’s pretty hard for Longoria or anyone with eight days of service time to pass up over $17 mil guaranteed.

    But that’s the problem isn’t it? It’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable today for a player of Longoria’s immense value to be compensated this way, while players who produce a fraction of his value at ten years older “earn” much more than twice as much.

    Hopefully the player’s union can rectify this gross inefficiency come next CBA, because the player’s share of revenue just keeps dropping and its because remarkably productive players like Longoria are paid peanuts. Longoria is just a symptom of a much larger problem.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Erik says:

      The system exists partly so that clubs can recoup some of the cost of player development. How would you suggest changing the system to maintain the incentive to scout and train prospects?

      I guess you could change the pre-FA salary structure to pay per WAR. Or $ per WAR per $ club revenue. This way you reward performance, but remove some of the club-born risk. You reward successful young players, but failed young players don’t hamstring a club like failed FAs. And since you’re paying a fixed $ per WAR per $ revenue (so that the $ for your pre-FA players are fixed), there’s no motivation to fiddle with the lineup (unless you’re just going to throw games).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • James says:

        Perhaps a slotting system in exchange for a quicker path to free agency? Or base the time it takes to reach free agency on performance, not service time. I’m just spitballing.

        The bottom line, for me, is that the most productive players in baseball remain the most undercompensated, and that’s primarily why their share of the revenue pie keeps slipping every year…front offices just won’t pay much for past-their-prime washed-up 30-something veterans anymore, nor should they. Tango posted something about this earlier this week.

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  12. wat says:

    Yeah its not like he doesn’t have endorsement deals everywhere for millions.

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    • Cliff says:

      If he gets a nickel for every time “Hey, that guy stole my cap” airs on MLB Network, he’s already a bajillionaire.

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  13. anon says:

    Of course pre-arb deals are team friendly. That’s because the team is taking on a tremendous risk. If the player is injured or flakes they incur huge losses. Longoria took the safe deal instead of risking it.

    Look at the Rangers with Rick DiPietro. Amazingly talented young goalie that they signed to a 15 year deal averaging under 5mil a year. If he plays to his potential they have the best contract in hockey. But, he instead has a few respectable seasons and gets injured and the team is boned.

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  14. bpdelia says:

    The thing is the Rays get lucky with the type of dude Longoria seems to be. But I don’t think it would be terribly unreasonable for Longoria (if he has anohter excellent season next year) to go to the F.O and say “Listen you got me absurdly cheap. so far, I think we need to renegotiatie this up somewhat. Take care of me now.”

    WOuld it be outrageous for LOngoria to go to them and say that he would like to be be paid 2 million more a year? It would be a nominal outlay and it would help to keep a player happy.

    It may have seemed to be a good deal at the time but actually siging on the line to take away the FA years was the error. IF htis deal simply cought out the arbitration years I wouldn’t find it quite as repugnant and expoitative as I do.

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    • Jimbo says:

      What would his leverage be…not report?

      I do think they need him more than he needs them. Wonder how that would play in the media.

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  15. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Thanks, Erik Hinske. I hope you can have a chat with Price, Upton, Jennings, and Joyce soon.

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  16. pft says:

    Longorias agent should be investigated to see if he got a kickback sent to an off shore account. Seriously, how does an agent stay in business after getting his client the worst contract in all of baseball.

    Longoria was just a kid, and obviously jumped at getting some money earlier than a whole lot more later. Maybe he or his family had some financial problems and it was not the agents doing. Would be interested to know what prompted him to sign and if he had any regrets, not to mention if he still has the same agent.

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    • Paul says:

      You are joking about the accusations of fraud from the agent and the Rays aren’t you?

      No-one knows what type of job the agent did for Longoria other than the result – he may have pleaded with Longoria not to leave so much on the table for all we know…Longoria may have said, thanks for the advice, but I know what I am doing

      To remind you Longoria got a 3Mil signing bonus when drafted, he had plenty of money, the idea that he didn’t know his worth is ludicrous. He simply wanted to play baseball in the majors ASAP. 3Mil Signing bonus + 17mil guaranteed = plenty of cash for life

      He just wanted to get on with his career and find out if chicks really did dig the Longoria Ball

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • phoenix2042 says:

        he makes tons in endorsements and commercials and stuff too, so it’s not like he doesn’t have money. he doesn’t have as much money as Arod, certainly, but making a couple million a year plus the endorsements, as well as the 3 mil signing bonus means he has some money and he really honestly seems to love playing for the rays. it’s bad compared to what he could have had, but he’s luckier than many.

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    • fredsbank says:

      worst from a greed standpoint yes, but for a team its without a doubt the best

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  17. elpikiman says:

    the Francouer was just like i was getting rick rolled!!!!!
    god damn it!

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  18. ScooterPie says:

    If salary is so important, why don’t they put it on the scoreboard?

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Dan G says:

    The contract is not that different from those signed by two other players in the top 10 of the Trade Value Leaderboard, Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia with the Red Sox. Those are for more money but were signed after 2 years of high level performance; so a longer track record which reduced the risk to the team while strenghtening the players’ negotiating position.

    Are there any examples of one of these pre-arb contracts not working out so well for the team?

    Even with Pedroia’s injury, the Sox have to happy with these contracts so far.

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  20. BPDELIA says:

    Like I said, buying out the arbitration years is fine. Where his agent screwed him was to allow this contract to go through TWO free agency years. The rays still woudl have gotten an excellent cost controlled contract that saved them tens of millions of dollars if the contract had merely gone through the arb years. Everyone knew Longoria was goin to be a player. At very least the agent shoudl have insisted on one of those final two years being a player option,. Or written in significant performance incentives into those years based upon MVP votes, HR’s or the like.

    Giving away the two free agency years is whats so outrageous

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  21. Ben says:

    I agree the contract is ridiculous but fangraphs gives too much credit to the Rays here. This is not about the Rays front office being smarter than everyone else (they do have a great front office, mind you, but speaking of the Longoria contract in particular). This is about Longoria’s agent being a complete and total moron. He was a 1st round pick with great potential from the start. His agent knew he could land a big contract in free agency. The Rays low-balled him and for some reason he accepted.

    This isn’t about a brilliant front office. Any FO can lowball. This is about a moronic agent.

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  22. Garrett says:

    Alex Gordon would like this contract. Sean Burroughs would as well.

    Rocco Baldelli would have been stoked to even get a BZA style deal after his breakout year.

    Lot of noob comments.

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    • BlackOps says:

      It was still a bad contract for him, even if he’s making more money than most of the population. Doesn’t seem like it’s that hard to understand.

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    • Jim M. says:

      I was wondering when someone would bring Alex Gordon’s name up, as he might have been the ideal reason for Longoria to sign a deal like he did. It was just a year earlier when Gordon came up as the can’t miss stud at third base for the Royals…. In fact, he and Longoria’s system-mate (Delmon Young) were widely considered some of the better hitting prospects who had come up in years. Neither of them had the success in their rookie year that Longoria did, but they did show Longoria (and his agent) that there could be some wisdom in striking while the iron was hot and assuring that he’d make enough money to live on for the rest of his life… even if he flamed out.

      In truth, Gordon has had times where he’s looked to be a serviceable big leaguer. He’ll probably enjoy a decent career and make more than enough money to live the rest of his life on. The fact of the matter, however, is that you’d have to think that Gordon would LOVE to have $17.5 million guaranteed. The disappointing thing about Gordon is that he actually showed some progress in his second season. He nearly doubled his walk rate (6.8% to 11.6); he cut down on the strikeouts some (OK… not much, but 25% to 24%); his OBP jumped from .314 to .351 and his wOBA jumped from .317 to .344.

      Then he got injured early on in 2009, and the Royals don’t seem to have handled him very well since. They’ve shuffled him back and forth between AAA and the bigs for the past two years AND they turned him into an outfielder. He’s regressed significantly in his end of season stats in each of the past two seasons, and he badly looks like a change of scenery would do him some good. He came up pretty much exactly one year before Longoria did, and while the chances are extremely strong that he makes more than $17.5 million in his baseball career, he almost certainly won’t get there by 2013.

      It’s been a great deal for the Rays, certainly. However, it was essentially a great insurance policy for Longoria to take at the time. Hindsight tells us he probably hits free agency as a 31-year-old in 2016 with $44.5 million in hand rather than as a 29-year-old (as they probably delay his FA clock for a month without the contract) with roughtly $40 million in hand. Is guaranteeing you’re set for life even if you flame out worth the risk? Considering the rate of attrition even with “can’t miss” prospects, I’d say it is.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Garrett says:

        Trying to figure out Longoria’s utility curve is difficult. To consider his agent guilt of “malpractice” is completely moronic. To suggest that he’s have been offered a significantly better contract is god damn comical. (BZA contract)

        Its results oriented analysis at its finest. Longoria has become basically the best possible player he could be. Why is the (median) expectation of players with high prospect status and 8 days service time? We can adjust that figure significantly downward due the non-linear nature of money. This is where we’d start to achieve something resembling decent analysis. Simply measuring wins in dollars and then claiming players should “receive” that amount in compensation is retardation of the highest order.

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  23. CircleChange11 says:

    Pujols has outperformed his contracts by something like $200M. Obviously guys like he and Evan are different from the norm.

    Other players might hold out or demand a new contract, insisting for much more money while adding years to the deal.

    Doing this would essentially mean TB would be forced to trade him.

    I find it very reasonable that he is happy with his guaranteed money and playing where he is at. Kinda refreshing actually. Many others would continually be complaining about a “lack of re$pect”.

    If we were to take a look at some of the early contracts of mega-talented Latin players, Evan’s deal might look very good. If you want to use the term “exploited” …

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  24. Jimbo says:

    Interesting that there is some odd form of scorn at Longoria, or his agent, or even the big bad owner because of an “inexpensive” contract. Yet Albert Pujols is looking to make $30 each year and that isn’t a little insulting to the St. Louis fanbase?

    You want to be a true hero in the city, get your eight figure paycheck ($10,000,000) then negotiate a certain amount for fan kickback, and a certain amount of league-ranking-based salary cap expenditures. Whatever, you get the drift.

    How any fanbase could see him make $111,000,000 out of their wallets and still support him is beyond me. The team around him can’t help but be diminished in some way sooner or later.

    And particularly in these economic times, when certainly a portion of his salary starts in fans’ wallets, for a guy ending that contract to want three times as much…just made me puke a little in my mouth. How is there no scorn at HIM?

    Or am I way off? Is he just expecting filthy rich owners to give him over a quarter-billion dollars? That I’d have no problem with. ;-)

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      The money is going to go somewhere. It is NOT going to go to the fans.

      Any reduction in budget/payroll is not going to result in lower ticket prices.

      Pujols is just figuring (rightly so, IMO) that a bulk of the money should go to him, since he’s the one producing it on the field. His value has been a team surplus of 200M since he’s been in the league.

      The analogy I use is cigarettes. When the government decided to impose “sin taxes”, the tobacco companies did not take less of a profit. They raised the price of cigarettes, and whatever fines or payments the Tab Co had to make for a dangerous product was paid for by smokers. I’m fine with that. It’s a great illustration of how owners will not accept something that reduces profit. They’ll just charge more.

      Fans, like smokers, are addicted to baseball. We say we won’t pay or won’t attend … but we always do. We always do.

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      • Jimbo says:

        “Fans, like smokers, are addicted to baseball. We say we won’t pay or won’t attend … but we always do. We always do.”

        I’m in the group that *would* go if it were more reasonably priced. Which it could be if folks had any sense of what “enough” looks like.

        Totally lost me with the smoking analogy. I’d like my kids to go to baseball games for a fun, TV-less experience of sport. I don’t want them addicted to going, just as I don’t want them to smoke.

        Perhaps your point is that THOSE WHO DO pay for season tickets or attend a lot of games every year are addicted. In that case, forget the ‘average fan’ so the team can just milk the addicts for profit? Gotta love modern-day capitalism.

        Any way you look at it there’s greed at the forefront. You basically suggest Pujols should be greedy because the team owners are. That’s messed up imo.

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