By: Holly Horning
In this Hot Stove season, here are a few interesting stories that buck the trends.
A Long Time Ago, in a League Far, Far Away…….
Mickey Mantle had 18 one-year contracts in his 18-year career. He had 1 year in which his contract was cut by $10K and his last 6 years in the majors involved the same pay with no salary increases. He made just slightly over $1 million in his lifetime.
No Longer Bobby Bonilla’s Team
In 2015, the Mets’ starting pitching rotation had a total payroll of less than $20 million. Bobby Bonilla, long since retired, is still pulling in twice as much payroll than Matt Harvey. The Mets got to the playoffs with MLB’s 10th smallest payroll with just over $100 million.
The Tigers’ starting pitching payroll in 2015 was north of $70 million – more than 3 /12 times larger than the Mets. They finished with MLB’s ninth worst record but with baseball’s fourth highest payroll.
No More Free Agent Edge
Remember when it used to be an advantage to have a player going into his free agent year? They always seemed to play harder for that new contract.
But not anymore, at least for pitchers. Over the past couple years, teams have accused Scott Boras of advising his clients to “save their arms” so as not to risk injury or overuse before they get that monster contract.
Just look at his client, Max Scherzer, who received much criticism while pitching for the Tigers for not going deep into games. And fans will not forget the playoff game against Boston when he left and there was still fuel in the tank according to the opponents.
Max pitched 1 CG for the Tigers in 5 years. In just 1 year with the Nationals, he pitched 4. His game logs show a pitcher who significantly increased the innings pitched with his new team. He went from pitching an average of 6 innings with the Tigers to 7-8+ innings for the Nats.
And now it’s been revealed that Johnny Cueto (who is repped by a different agent) told teammates he was also saving his arm last year in order to get a new monster contract. Remember when he got shelled in a game, left the mound and was seen laughing on his walk back to the dugout?
Is it fair to assume that the ring has taken a backseat to big bucks for an increasing number of baseball players?