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Home Maury Brown Yankees Bust the Bank While Other Clubs Play it Cool in Free Agency

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Yankees Bust the Bank While Other Clubs Play it Cool in Free Agency PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 15 February 2009 02:38


Why is former free agent Mark Teixeira
smiling? Simple, his contract with the
Yankees is worth more than what several
of the top spending clubs in MLB have
doled out in free agency this off-season,

An interesting bit of data surfaced by ESPN researcher Mark Simon via Buster Olney’s blog on Friday regarding the pace of free agent contracts this off-season (read Long-term contracts down significantly). As the title suggests, “Contracts of three-plus years are down significantly from two years ago.”

Simon has some interesting figures (highly suggest reading) that got me to looking into the numbers further.

Remember, the free agency cycle is far from complete, but there are some trends that show that going the “Yankee way” is no longer in vogue. Be it the economy or a change in philosophy, it’s a different world this year.

As of 2/14/09 a total of 156 contracts have been reached with 217 players that filed for free agency in the 2008-09 off-season. Of those, 63 of them are minor league deals accounting for 29 percent of the total to date. Compare that to last year’s free agency class which had a total of 59 minor league contracts to the 190 players that filed, or 31 percent. And remember, we’re just hitting spring training. There’s certain to be more deals reached moving forward.

Those figures from this year and last remain closely matched, but when looking at 2006-2007 free agency class, the figures change dramatically. As Simon reported of long-term deals dropping since that period, so has the percentage of minor league deals reached. Of the 210 FA players two years ago, only 43 of them reached minor league contracts, or 20 percent of the total.

Other findings...

  • Every club has dipped into the FA pool, just some more than others. As noted by Simon of ESPN, the Yankees have busted the bank doling out $441 million in contracts to five players (Burnett, Marte, Pettitte, Sabathia, and Teixeira). They also have netted three minor league deals (Angel Berroa, Kevin Cash, and Jason Johnson). That $441 million accounts for 40.84 percent of the total $1,079,857,500 spent by all 30 clubs this year. But, here’s what’s truly amazing about the Yankees free agent spending: with the amount spent on Mark Teixeira’s contract alone ($180 million) you could take all that the Braves ($86.8 million) and Mets ($77.25 million) have spent, throw in the D-Backs ($12.05 million), Padres ($2.35 million), and White Sox ($1 million) and still have $550,000 left over. Take that in… The Braves and Mets rank 3 and 4 in total spending this off-season behind the Yankees and Cubs.
  • Some clubs have yet to spend one red cent on major league contracts. The Rangers have 6 minor league deals (Brendan Donnelly, Eddie Guardado, Jason Jennings, Doug Mathis, Adam Melhuse, and Omar Vizquel), but no major league contracts, while the Blue Jays have exactly one FA transaction this off-season, the minor league deal with first baseman Kevin Millar.

And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Look for more details shortly when I do a guest column on MLBTradeRumors.com

Here is a ranking of how each of the 30 clubs have spent in free agency as of 2/14/09, including the number of contracts (major and minor league):

Minor Lg.
Club Club Total % of All Total Spending
5 3 Yankees $441,000,000 40.84%
5 2 Cubs $88,425,000 8.19%
4 0 Braves $86,800,000 8.04%
4 5 Mets $77,250,000 7.15%
6 3 Dodgers $57,100,000 5.29%
3 2 Phillies $47,000,000 4.35%
4 0 Angels $38,905,000 3.60%
4 2 Giants $37,250,000 3.45%
5 5 Orioles $24,000,000 2.22%
2 5 Nationals $22,600,000 2.09%
3 1 Indians $22,000,000 2.04%
6 3 Reds $20,552,500 1.90%
6 1 Red Sox $19,000,000 1.76%
4 0 Rays $18,975,000 1.76%
4 2 Royals $15,350,000 1.42%
4 0 D-Backs $12,050,000 1.12%
2 0 Athletics $8,550,000 0.79%
1 0 Twins $8,500,000 0.79%
4 2 Brewers $8,350,000 0.77%
4 4 Astros $6,250,000 0.58%
2 2 Pirates $5,500,000 0.51%
2 1 Tigers $5,250,000 0.49%
3 3 Padres $2,350,000 0.22%
1 7 Rockies $2,250,000 0.21%
2 0 Cardinals $1,450,000 0.13%
1 3 Mariners $1,400,000 0.13%
1 0 White Sox $1,000,000 0.09%
1 0 Marlins $750,000 0.07%
0 6 Rangers $0 0.00%
0 1 Blue Jays $0 0.00%


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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