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.