Are general managers underpaid?

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Ken Rosenthal thinks so:

The GM is arguably the most important person in any organization — more
important, perhaps, than even a superstar player.

But
baseball’s dirty little secret is that the sport’s highest-ranking
executives are absurdly underpaid.

Most general managers earn
between $500,000 and $2 million annually, major league sources say. Only a few — notably, the Yankees’ Brian Cashman
Red Sox’s Theo Epstein and Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski — are believed to
make more than $2 million.

Rosenthal doesn’t think GMs are impoverished or anything, but he does believe that, given how critical the right GM is to an organization’s success, there should be greater competition over the best ones, and that in turn should lead to higher salaries.

I think he’s right (and I’ll add that lower-level front office people are criminally-underpaid, far more so than GMs are).  The problem, of course, is that the GM is the one guy who the owner himself hires, so for that decision he doesn’t have the insight of the sharpest guy in most organizations — the general manager.

Why wouldn’t there be a bidding war for a Brian Cashman or a Theo Epstein or guys like them?  Is there a gentleman’s agreement among owners not to do so?  Are they just dense?  Because it strikes me that paying a couple million more in order to get the right guy to run the team would more than pay for itself over time.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.