Wyers: Long-term extensions may be short-sighted

From SABR member Colin Wyers at Baseball Prospectus on April 4, 2012:

On Opening Day Eve (ignoring the two games held at the crack of dawn to accommodate the Tokyo Dome venue), the big story in baseball is a pair of big-money deals—Matt Cain and Joey Votto got paid, man. What’s interesting is that these were players years away from free agency, who certainly didn’t need to be signed now.

Can these deals go bad? Of course they can. An object lesson is Ryan Howard, whose contract extension has managed to look worse and worse over the past few seasons, even though it won’t start covering real baseball games until tomorrow. Will they go bad? It’s hard to say, and the esteemable Ben Lindbergh does a better job covering the possibilities than I could. That frees us up to consider the larger implications—what does all this money mean?


It’s important now to note that none of these developments confirms a trend. The Rays clearly have a Rays Way, but it’s not yet clear that this is going to become the New New New New New Moneyball. (I may have missed a few New Moneyballs between the actual Moneyball and this one; if so, please forgive me). And while this is probably the biggest year for long-term deals since the 2007 offseason, it’s important to note that after the contract binge when players like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee got megadeals, the market quieted down afterward until what we’ve seen this offseason.

But if we are at the cusp of a real trend—if long-term deals locking up prime talent are the new norm—what kind of an effect will that have on baseball? I’m not sure it’s entirely a good one.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=16363

Originally published: April 5, 2012. Last Updated: April 5, 2012.