A Serious Call for the One-Year Contract

Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.

Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million  a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.

And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS.  Good thing Theo got out of town!

Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts.  Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated.

If only front offices could act like the rest of the planet when it comes to doling out large sums on a contract basis, perhaps they could save themselves years of embarrassment and avoid the ear-piercing “we’re in rebuilding mode” verbiage.

The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better.  Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more.  The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!

If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder.  This is FACT.  But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been?  I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.

There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers.  So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?

In the real world, if you underperform, you’re gone.  Period.

In the baseball world, the $100 million contract rarely works for both sides, yet teams keep handing them out; and then they wonder why there is backlash from the fans, media and baseball-politico bloggers who think very highly of themselves.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.




  1. Mateo Fischer

    I actually don’t think anything needs to be done. Since the team suffers after a star doesn’t perform after signing a big contract, it will act like electro-shock therapy. I mean $100 million contracts *are* a “relatively” new phenomenon, so I think eventually, the teams will learn it is best not to sing players to these contracts and thus the better teams will be the ones with the smaller contracts and as the sport evolves, even the dimwits of the business will figure out that it is better if they don’t guarantee players that much money. Obviously, this process would have been faster and that realization would have come quicker if baseball had a salary cap, but that isn’t really a problem since there is parity in baseball, when looking at the World Series winners of the past few years. Just to be clear, though, the realization would have come quicker because as it is, teams like the Yankees can afford to sign players to these contracts and also take the financial hit associated with making mistakes on players.

  2. Minoring In Baseball

    Amen, Jeff. The one-year contracts force the players to be paid by (gulp) thier actual performance. I doubt we’ll ever see the owners unify and and agree to sign players for only one year at a time, though. It could save sports, though, as I think things are so out of control money wise you never know when it could all crash back down. At least the Tigers big signing of Fielder is paying off….NOT.

  3. Red State Blue State

    Mateo — Tell that to the fans of teams handcuffed by terrible contracts. Jim Hendry did more damage to the Cubs then the Cubs did to themselves. Hard to imagine.
    Mike — Seems such a novel idea, getting paid what you’re worth. I wonder what it’s like to have such security. It’s un-‘Merican!

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