This past season the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets played in the World Series. Here are the starting pitchers’ salaries for each team.
Kansas City Royals
Edinson Volquez – 7.5m
Chris Young – 675k with up to 5.35m in bonuses
Yordano Ventura – 750k
Jeremy Guthrie – 9m
Danny Duffy – 2.4m
Johnny Cueto – prorated 2 month rental – 3.5m.
Total – (estimating Young’s bonuses) 25-26m.
New York Mets
Matt Harvey – 614k
Jacob deGrom – 557k
Steven Matz – prorated 275k
Noah Syndergaard – prorated 410k
Barolo Colon – 9m
Total – 11m
Here are the recent free agent pitcher’s signings.
Johnny Cueto – 6 years 130m – 22m per year
Zach Greinke – 6 years 206m – 34m per year
David Price – 7 years 217m – 31m per year
Jordan Zimmermann – 5 years 110m – 22m per year.
Jeff Samardzija – 5 years 90m – 18m per year
Bottom line, each of these players will make almost as much if not more than the entire starting pitching staffs of this year’s World Series participants. Has Cueto ever won a World Series? Yes, he was an integral part of the Royals win as a 3 month rental, something always available to MLB teams as those out of contention look to shed salary. Will he be worth 22m a year at 34-36 with a lot of miles on his arm – very doubtful. Has Greinke ever won a World Series? No, although a young player traded TO the Royals as part of the trade that sent Greinke to the Brewers won a World Series, Lorenzo Cain. Can Greinke remain healthy and great at 36-38, very unlikely.
Has David Price ever won a World Series? No, he has an 0-8 record as a postseason starter and now that he is on the Red Sox will see plenty of action against the Yanks against whom he has over a 4.00 lifetime ERA. Has Zimmermann ever won a World Series? No, although as he is still in his twenties and is only receiving a paltry 22m per year, he seems like a bargain. Samardzija has never won a World Series, was 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA in 2015 and lifetime is 47-61 with a 4.09 ERA. Great athlete? Yes, besides being a pro baseball player he played football at Notre Dame. Great pitcher, an 18 million dollar pitcher, very questionable.
My point is not putting down these pitchers, they are good if not great players getting what the market will pay. It’s the MLB teams’ managements that keep making the ridiculous mistake of overpaying 30+ year old players and then regretting it. A-Rod, Sabathia, Hanley Ramirez, Sandoval, the list is endless. When are they going to realize that young, aggressive players dying for the big paycheck, like this year’s Royals are the ones going to win the Series. Clearly the young pitchers on the Mets’ staff will most likely see big time money in the future, but presently they are under Met control at very reasonable salaries. Stars in their mid thirties are going to suffer injuries and with 100 million in the bank, perhaps not play with the passion and all out effort that a hungry 26 year old plays with. The Yanks, with all their great stars, have won one World Series in the last 15 years. A-Rod, Sabathia, Beltran and Teixeira, all players well into their thirties, have been hurt for extended periods. The 2009 Series win with these players (excluding Beltran) doesn’t make up for all the mediocre baseball that’s followed. The Cardinals and Giants have each won two Series in recent times with nowhere near the star power or payroll.
It seems like every year there is widespread media coverage of the “hot stove” league as the top free agents make their decisions. In very few situations have these players led their teams to the ultimate payoff, a World Series victory and I can’t recall any winning multiple titles. Let’s see what this year’s group of free agents achieves, I’m betting against them.