Dan Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal has a must-read interview with Mark Teixeira, who has come to terms with the idea that he won’t be the same player in his mid-30s as he was in his 20s. In another moment of candor, he also said that he feels there’s nothing that he can do to justify the massive eight-year, $180 million contract he signed with the Yankees in December of 2008.
“I have no problem with anybody in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid. Because I am,” Teixeira said. “We all are.”
“Agents are probably going to hate me for saying it,” he continued. “You’re not very valuable when you’re making $20 million. When you’re Mike Trout, making the minimum, you are crazy valuable. My first six years, before I was a free agent, I was very valuable. But there’s nothing you can do that can justify a $20 million contract.”
It’s a pretty logical take, as players in their pre-arbitration and arbitration years can deliver far more value because they are less expensive and are only entering their primes. Meanwhile, players in free agency get paid as if they’ll continue to maintain their peak production, even though many will be past their prime by the end of a long-term deal. That’s why we have seen many teams buy out arbitration years and a year or two of free agency as part of extensions, taking on some risk on the chance they’ll end up with a team-friendly contract.
Fans will appreciate the general sentiment from Teixiera, as it appeals to the notion that our priorities are out of whack, but let’s not fool ourselves and think the system will suddenly change. Players will continue to ask for more as long as these ridiculous television deals put more money in owners’ pockets. And they absolutely should. I’m sure the issue doesn’t keep Teixeira up at night, but it’s a refreshing take.
There’s a whole lot more in the piece, but this is really great work by Barbarisi, who points out that expectations for players in their mid-to-late 30s might still be skewed a bit by what we saw during the steroid era.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
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.