Which Yankees are fulfilling their contract values based on WAR?

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Moving on to the pitching staff, the news is a little easier to swallow in that there are not contract which are crushing the Yankees financial investments.


The good news is that the Yankees have received much better value from their pitching staff than their position players. While the total difference is negative, once Mariano Rivera‘s totals are removed (an injury should not take away from the performance of others) the Yankees rotation and bullpen members have been carrying their weight.

Beginning with members of the rotation; Ivan Nova, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, who all have reasonable contracts, have already surpassed their break-even requirements. Hiroki Kuroda should have no problem surpassing his contract worth and in fact could generate a handsome “profit”. Despite the fact that CC Sabathia will make $23MM this season, he continues to provide more than enough on the field to offset the costs. A second half similar to his first will have Sabathia’s performance value keeping pace with his salary.

CC Sabathia's performance on the field justifies his lofty salary. (Image: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

In the bullpen, the surprise crew of Clay Rapada, David Phelps and Cody Eppley have flown past anything expected of them this season on the field and due to their inexpensive contracts, they come off as major bargains.

The same can be said for David Robertson who continues to impress in the eighth inning role. His accomplishments on the field far outweigh his compensation. The good news for the Yankees is that they have two more seasons of Robertson at arbitration costs versus market value.

Rafael Soriano has had a magnificent season as he has seamlessly taken over the closer spot in Rivera’s absence. With that said, Soriano is WELL paid for his efforts. The contract was deemed expensive from the outset and in terms of WAR it is. He’ll have to be even better in the second half to match his salary. While this is possible, the Yankees will be happy with the same execution and I’d expect nothing more.

What does all of this say about the Yankees financial situation? Nothing really more than what we already knew. They overpaid players who were on the wrong side of their prime in Jeter, A-Rod and Teixeira. Jeter and A-Rod may create some extra value monetarily off the field, but as far as on the field performance in relation to their salary, they may never be the same as in their heydays. What some baseball fans outside Yankees Universe may not know is that the Bombers are looking to pull back spending to about $189 million for the 2014 season. The reason is largely because the Yankees front office (as well as many others in MLB) is looking at similar numbers when determining what they will spend on payroll in the future.

The Yankees have the benefit of a tradition and brand which creates revenue in many ways. That revenue far exceeds most of the teams in the game and certainly gives the Yankees and edge. The YES Network alone more than compensates any “losses” they may claim in the business side of the ball club. That being said, it is a business and the Yankees like any other, will look for ways to reduce spending where possible. The anticipated payroll reduction is going to be difficult with the albatross contracts, but there are many ways to offset them, which the Yankees began years ago with a new attention to international development and a willingness to maintain talent in the farm system which they intend to use at the major league level, or utilize as trade bait for less expensive MLB-ready talent.

The Yankees may “print” money in some eyes, but they will try hard not to waste it in the future.

Thanks to FanGraphs.com for WAR values and to Baseball Prospectus, namely, Cot’s Baseball Contracts for the Yankees’ contract values.

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Tags: A-Rod Alex Rodriguez Andruw Jones Andy Pettitte Break-even Analysis CC Sabathia Chris Stewart Clay Rapada Cody Eppley Cory Wade Curtis Granderson David Phelps David Robertson Derek Jeter Dewayne Wise Eric Chavez Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Joba Chamberlain Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira New York Yankees Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Rafael Soriano Raul Ibanez Robinson Cano Russell Martin War Yankees

  • http://YanksGoYard.com/ Matt Hunter

    One thing to remember is that the trend of overpaying veterans and underpaying younger stars is not unique to the Yankees. In fact, that’s pretty much how contracts work throughout baseball. Guys get paid relatively poorly (relative to other players, of course, not to normal Americans) until, and even a bit after, arbitration ends, then they become way overpaid towards the ends of those huge contracts. So even if A-Rod, Jeter, and Teixeira seem way overpaid, that’s only because the market forces teams to overpay for veterans. The value from younger players like Cano and Nova should make up for the veterans.

    • Chris_Carelli

      Yes, of course the dynamic of paying restricted players less has gone on since the inception of professional baseball. Free agency allowed for the market to dictate pricing once players became eligible. If there is a point to be made by all of this it is that teams are now a bit more reliant on valuations of talent so that longer term deals don’t become such detriments toward their conclusions as A-Rod’s and Teixeira’s will. Jeter is a different story altogether because of everything else he brings to the brand, but it is very difficult to determine his contributions in a monetary sense.

      • http://YanksGoYard.com/ Matt Hunter

        I don’t know if I agree that longer-term deals are no longer detriments towards their conclusions. Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth’s deals are already looking like busts, and I’m be willing to bet that Pujols and Fielder will be very overpaid at the end of their contracts. I think the Angels and Tigers knew that when they signed them, since you have to overpay those types of players to get them. I think it can often be very smart to sign guys to long-term deals even if they’ll be draining money at the end of their contracts. I think A-Rod’s extension was definitely too much, but Teixeira might have been worth it.

        • Chris_Carelli

          I said a bit more reliant on valuations, not that all teams are making great choices. By detriments at the end I should be more specific. In totality some of the contracts may actually pan out but taken on a year by year basis those contracts in which the salary rises as years progress past the player’s prime (see Pujols) it will be harder for the player to reach the break-even point. A-Rod’s case is “better” for the Yankees. It will actually get “easier” for him over time to reach the break-even point. His annual salary begins to decrease starting with next season ($29MM in ’13, $26MM in ’14, $22MM in ’15 and $21MM in ’16 & ’17).

          • http://YanksGoYard.com/ Matt Hunter

            Yeah I don’t think we’re in disagreement. I guess my main point was that we shouldn’t necessarily say that that Rodriguez or Teixeira have been under-performing relative to their contracts just because their WAR values are lower than their salaries, since veteran players are generally overpaid league-wide. If guys like Cano WEREN’T outperforming their contracts, then we would have a problem.

          • Chris_Carelli

            I get what you’re saying, but we can’t just ignore the fact that they are under-performing because the trends have been to overpay aging veterans. A bad contract is a bad contract. Don’t you think that being saddled with A-Rod’s and Teixeira’s salary is going to impede on their desire to have a quality team AND stay under $189MM in 2014?

            Instead of looking at it from the player’s perspective of under-performing, can’t we look at it as poor business decision?
            Agreed about players like Cano. There has to be some balance if teams insist on granting lofty contracts to players who will be past their prime when it ends.