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Long-Term Nightmares
Posted by Ted Rossman at 4/27/2008 6:56:00 AM
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I'm not a fan of expensive long-term contracts. Not one bit. So much can change in a month, let alone a year or five years or 10 years. While it's far too early to pass final judgment on the long-term contracts that Colorado gave to Troy Tulowitzki and Manny Corpas last offseason, things aren't looking good so far.

What bothers me is that neither of these players needed a long-term deal. The Rockies held both players' rights for five more years before they could declare free agency and two more years before they could file for arbitration. Signing them to long-term deals was in part a gesture of good faith and in part a public relations move after the best season in club history. So now the Rockies are on the hook for a combined 10 years and $41 million, whether Tulowitzki and Corpas earn it or not. You can throw in Brad Hawpe's three-year, $17 million deal as well. None of these guys needed such huge contracts and none of them are irreplaceable.

It's eerily similar to what the Rockies did earlier this decade, when they gave Mike Hampton $121 million over eight seasons and Denny Neagle $51 million over five. Those signings set the franchise back for years. I just don't understand why teams lock up so much guaranteed money and so many years in players. There are too many hungry, capable players available via trades, free agency and the minor leagues. The Rockies have already demoted Corpas from his closer's perch and Tulowitzki won't be the starting shortstop all year if he continues to hit below his weight. Both players parlayed a few good months into a huge contract. And good for them, but not for the Rockies.

How do you think the Giants feel about Barry Zito's monstrous long-term deal? Might the Dodgers be regretting the $36 million they owe Andruw Jones over the next two seasons? And is Randy Johnson worth more than $10 million this season? These are examples just within the NL West.

If I were a GM, I'd have general rules that no one gets more than a three-year deal, no one gets more than $8 million per year and no one gets big money until they've proven themselves for at least three years. There would be rare exceptions, but it makes so much more sense to set firm contract boundaries. The current system favors the players, no doubt about it. And if they want to get a ton of money elsewhere, I'd let them. There would be someone else eager to join my team. Someone who would start or sit based upon merit and not because they have a fat guaranteed contract.


Agree about Zito, Jones, and RJ. But not so sure on the Rockies. Tulo will be fine, it's only been a few weeks.
One thing about long-term contracts with young players is that you lock in the rate, so even as the market increases, you have them locked in, and that can actually benefit the team. It's similar to what the Rays did with Longoria (who could have earned much more if he went year to year like Ryan Howard has been doing, but chose less but with some security). Frankly, I don't see a problem with that.
Posted by MPStopa at 4/27/2008 7:35:00 AM

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