When it was signed following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees was the third biggest in MLB history and largest to go to someone not named Alex Rodriguez. Now it rivals Rodriguez’s as one of the worst in baseball.
With the news Wednesday that Teixeira would undergo wrist surgery, the 33-year-old first baseman ends his fifth season with the Yankees having played in just 15 games and hitting .151. The Yankees are still on the hook for another three years and $67.5 million after paying him $22.5 million this season.
If it were just the wrist injury, there’d be better reason for hope that Teixeira could come back and be a quality regular, if not an All-Star, next year. But he already seemed to be in obvious decline before 2013. Here are his OPSs and OPS+s since 2007.
2007: .963 – 149 – Rangers/Braves
2008: .962 – 152 – Braves/Angels
2009: .948 – 141 – Yankees
2010: .846 – 124 – Yankees
2011: .835 – 121 – Yankees
2012: .807 – 116 – Yankees
The Yankees would surely take it if Teixeira could come back and be a 120 OPS+ first baseman in the last three years of his deal. He wouldn’t be worth nearly $22.5 million per year in that scenario, but that’d still make him an above average regular at first base.
It’s probably overly optimistic, though. While Jose Bautista has come back and produced since returning from a similar tendon sheath surgery, he hasn’t been nearly what he was in the two years before he got hurt. He was also a couple of years younger than Teixeira will be. Mark DeRosa’s wrist problems ended his career as a regular. Nomar Garciaparra came back and had his moments, but he was never the same quality of player after Al Reyes hit him in the wrist.
So, the Yankees should be very worried. That they’ll be overpaying Teixeira and Rodriguez going forward is a given. Maybe CC Sabathia, too. But as long as those guys are reasonably productive, then the Yankees should continue to contend. If those players become liabilities on the field as well as in the budget, that’s the recipe for disaster.