The One Contract to Rule Them All

by on February 12, 2011 · 31 comments

I’m not good with deadlines.  All the guessing games annoy me, and quite frankly I’ve grown tired of people tossing numbers around like they’re plotting their strategy for cowchip bingo or something.  10/300?  8/225?  Can I get a 15/450?  Seriously.  Stop it.  Move past the basic parameters of a regular contract and start thinking in terms of something more complex.  Use your imagination a bit. 

Why can’t the contract extension for Albert Pujols be full of escalation clauses, opt-outs, buyouts, bonuses, and a bag of chips?  Put all those things on top of a really nice base salary, and you’ve got the makings of something that works for both sides.  Consider what I’ve conjured up in my own little twisted mind:

  • Year 1 (2012, age 32) – Base pay $25M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 6.0+ WAR [triggers $5M bonus for year 3]
  • Year 2 (2013, age 33) – Base pay $25M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 6.0+ WAR [triggers $5M bonus for year 4]
  • Year 3 (2014, age 34) – Base pay $22.5M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 5.5+ WAR [triggers $2.5M bonus for year 5]
  • Year 4 (2015, age 35) – Base pay $22.5M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 5.5+ WAR [triggers $2.5M bonus for year 6]
  • Year 5 (2016, age 36) – Base pay $20.0M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 5.0+ WAR [triggers $2.5M bonus for year 7]
  • Year 6 (2017, age 37) – Base pay $20.0M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 5.0+ WAR [triggers $2.5M bonus for year 8]
  • Year 7 (2018, age 38) – Base pay $20.0M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 4.5+ WAR [triggers $2.5M bonus for year 9]
  • Year 8 (2019, age 39) – Base pay $20.0M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 4.5+ WAR [triggers $2.5M bonus for year 10]
  • Year 9 (2020, age 40) – Base pay $20.0M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 4.0+ WAR
  • Year 10 (2021, age 41) – Base pay $20.0M guaranteed, $3M bonus for 4.0+ WAR

Add in a $1M bonus for each All-Star selection, and a $1M bonus for each Silver Slugger award and Gold Glove award.  $2.5M bonus for hitting each of the 500, 600, 700, and 800 hr plateaus.  $1M bonus for winning a league MVP award.  $2M bonus for the team winning the World Series.  So, let’s add everything up:

  • $215M in guaranteed base pay over 10 years
  • $25M in pay escalators as bonuses
  • $30M in performance-based (WAR) bonus money
  • $10M worth of bonus money for All-Star appearances
  • $10M in bonuses for Silver Slugger awards
  • $10M in bonus money for Gold Gloves
  • $10M in extra cash for hitting some home run marks

By my count that’s a maximum of $310M without including MVP or World Series-related bonus money.  Maybe the 800 hr plateau is a stretch, and it’s unlikely that he’ll collect all the bonuses for All-Star appearances, Silver Sluggers, and Gold Glove awards, but he’ll still be in the $300M neighborhood. 

As for opt-outs?  Albert gets an opt-out after year 4 and year 6.  Will he really want to leave that much money on the table?  Will anybody want to pay offer him a long-term deal after his age 35 season?  I can’t see into the future, but I’m going with “no” and “no” on both of those, anyway. 

Let’s say that Albert signs this contract and goes out and hits all the performance marks for WAR each season, so he triggers all the base pay escalations.  Along with his $215M in base pay, he’ll collect $25M in escalators, and $30M in bonus money.  That’s $270M right there.  He’ll likely eclipse the 500 and 600 hr plateaus along the way, so that’s another $5M – taking his total to $275M.  If he can manage another 7 All-Star appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers, and 4 Gold Glove awards, he’ll collect a cool $15M for those achievements, thereby raising his total earnings to $290M.  That still leaves him shy of the $300M mark.  Even if he can manage a MVP award or two along the way, he’ll still be short.  Even if he hits the 700 hr plateau, he’ll be a million or two south of $300M.  Looks like he’ll just have to deliver a World Series winner (or two).  Seems like a win-win to me. 

TIDBITS:  By no means do I think that there is a perfect contract format or a way to structure a contract that works well for both the player and the team.  However, I’d like to see this contract extension meet two objectives.  First, it should compensate Albert based on his performance and his value to the organization while keeping him in St. Louis for the rest of his career without any more squabbling over money.  Second, it should provide some flexibility for the team to surround Albert with the talent required to be competitive for the duration of the contract, even if he has an off year or suffers an injury.  A $20-22.5M base salary in 2021 represents a relatively palatable fraction of the overall payroll at that point, so it’s possible that he won’t be a complete albatross.  Even if he is, I’d argue that it’s a reasonable price to pay at the end of 20+ years of watching him play.

MORE BITS OF TID:  If Alberts maxes out the contract, the Cardinals will be paying top dollar for 10 consecutive years of All-Star level performance.  That shouldn’t be an issue.  If he goes more to the low end of the deal, he still makes around $240-250M over 10 years, and that’s probably not a horrible deal for the team, either.  Do you really think that the “low end” for Albert means dropping well below a 5.0 WAR value for all 10 years of the deal?  I don’t. 

Like it?  Want to conjure up your own version?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter and conjure away!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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cariocacardinal February 12, 2011

Though you don’t mention it, the WAR bonus is probably not allowed under the current rules but it could easily be modified to substitute top 3/5/10 MVP incentives. But in general I like it (a lot) but I don’t think Albert’s camp would accept it under any means. They have there mind up they want the largest AAV and largest total contract of all time. Good Luck to them (wherever they may land).

Dennis February 12, 2011

Yeah, I was thinking in terms of a “WAR milestone” tiered system of marketing bonuses similar to what A-Rod has in his contract for HR milestones. That certainly runs up against the line, but a precedent has been set.

PH8 February 12, 2011



E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

That figure sounds as good as any other!! LMAO!

Dennis February 14, 2011

There’s a history to this, though. The previous night on Twitter, he was at $30M/yr, so he actually increased his offer overnight. 😉

E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

Well the deadline.. she is approachin’…..

E.E. RIPPER February 12, 2011

Your performance & milestone laden contract idea is very clever. There is just one problem: Albert Pujols is THE BEST PLAYER IN BASEBALL right now. Furthermore, A-Rod is scheduled to make ~ 33M this season and A-Rod is not the best player. If I’m Pujols’ agent there is no way I would accept anything less than the highest annual salary for at least 7 years. Think about it, when A-Rod signed his infamous 10/252 contract he was widely considered to be the best player in the game (even though in my opinion Barry Bonds was the best player)- but anyway- doesn’t it then make sense that the best player in the game receive the highest salary (at the time of the signing)? In short, the contract game is all about timing and because A-Rod is going to get 30+ Million/year for the next several years Pujols should accept nothing less.

Andrew February 12, 2011

Which WAR?

E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

The War of 1812 I believe. OK, OK I’LL STOP!!

Dennis February 12, 2011

7 / 213.5? Now you are working on earning a place in the “Daily Pujols”. 😉

I don’t think it’s a given that the best player at a given point in time should then be awarded the greatest compensation in terms of AAV for a long-term contract. I think that contracts should be structured to compensate a player for their anticipated contributions/performance. The A-Rod deals were both examples of overpaying that only a few teams could afford to do. They represent the exceptions rather than the rule.

Which WAR? Whichever WAR calculation they can agree on using. I’d probably suggest that each side pick one and average the two values.

E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

Friend, I understand what you’re saying but if you think it through it doesn’t make any sense (at least as it involves traditional front office practices). Using your logic then the Cardinals should have given Pujols say an 8/225 or 9/250 deal in 2005/2006. This, according to you, would be the best anticipated/future performance based deal as Pujols would be just reaching his prime. But they didn’t! See! It just doesn’t work that way. Look your logic is dead on correct, but things never work out this way. And think about it, what team is going to give you top dollar anticipating that you will be the best player? Imagine the reaction if an agent went to a GM and said “you know in three years my client is going to be the best player in the game so pay us top dollar now”. Ain’t gonna happen….I’m not saying that these existing and proposed contracts are good for the game. I’m just saying the best and most logical time to ask for the huge money is when you can point and show that indeed you are the best player.
P.S. You claim that the A-Rod deal is an exception, well if you tracked over the years the terrible contracts the Cubs have taken on you would have to conclude that bad contracts are the NORM for the Cubs LOL.. Ex. Last year Zambrano was, for a time, a 91M set-up man. Gotta love those Cubbies!!!
P.P.S. If I’m thinking out my ass let me know??

Dennis February 14, 2011

Using my logic, Albert’s current 8 yr / $111M deal was a reasonable deal for both sides, but an extension after 2005 or 2006 would have been a reasonable idea as well. It’s funny that you mention the agent approaching the GM in a hypothetical situation. Why do you think the Cardinals coughed up $7M, $11M, and $14M in what would have been Albert’s arbitration years? They weren’t just buying out arbitration years. They wanted to lock in a decent rate for a guy they anticipated would be a superstar for several years. So, the reaction isn’t necessarily an automatic “no”.

Regardless, I think the ideal time to pay is right before the player peaks. Potential examples are guys like Cano, Josh Hamilton, Votto, Wainwright, Tulo, and Alexei Ramirez. Potential bad examples are Cliff Lee, Alfonso Soriano, and A-Rod. Somewhere in the middle are guys like Uggla, Morneau, and Pedroia.

If I used the Cubs as the standard comparison, I’d lose my mind. Bad contracts were the norm for the Cubs, but I haven’t seen any huge mistakes recently. I didn’t like the Garza trade, but they needed starting pitching. It’s just that he’s a bit of a fly ball pitcher, and I’m not sure that’s going to play well at Wrigley.

Zambrano deserves his own article. To be fair, a lot of big money teams might have made that same mistake with him. The Alfonso Soriano deal seems much worse to me.

Andrew February 12, 2011

See, that would get tricky, I think. I find it hard to believe a MLB club would use a blog stat for a contract inventive. Though it would be really cool for the respective sites (FanGraphs, BR).

From what I understand, the Cardinals FO likes to use run differential for players. They set a goal at the beginning of an offseason to get to a certain projected number. Obviously, they probably have their own Win stats like WAR, so maybe using one of their own would be more ideal.

Dennis February 12, 2011

I agree. I’m not picky about what stat is used, though. If they have their own version of “win shares” or something similar that they like better, then so be it.

Andrew February 12, 2011

Well the whole dynamic of metrics being brought to the negotiating table I’ve wondered about for a while. Both sides could find a way for them to be advantageous in certain situations (not just the Great Negotiations)

Dennis February 12, 2011

I’ve thought about it as well, and there is also a potential “me first” issue as well. I just think that maybe some creativity and imagination could work to everybody’s benefit. If players could avoid being greatly underpaid, and teams could avoid greatly overpaying, maybe the greater good would be served.

E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

As I have stated above, the creativity of the proposed deal with all its metric based bonuses and clauses is interesting. What I find amusing is the comments regarding which specific metric should be used in structuring the contract. But I think that everyone is missing the thing that is right in front their face(s): Any meaningful metric used, will simply verify to the Cardinals and any other team that Pujols is far and away the best player in the game. And then what? The agent is going to use whatever Bill James/BB Prospectus/TB metric the club drags out and will use this data to verify that Pujols deserves the 30M + LOL!

Dennis February 14, 2011

If anything, all the metrics will show at best is that he’s the best at this moment in time, or he’s been the best over a period of time. That still doesn’t translate to what he’ll do in the future.

If you consider WAR, he was 3rd highest in MLB for 2010 behind Longoria and Choo. He might be right there in the top 3 again, but he could easily drop out of the top 5 in 2011 as well. What’s the justification for paying $30M a year for someone who isn’t the best player in the game at age 31 or 32 much less at 39, 40, or 41?

Even IF they agree to pay him something close to that, I’d like to see the team protected by some injury clause that would save enough money to fill a gap.

E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

Do you really think that Longoria & Choo are better players than Pujols? Really?
Longoria’s offensive WAR was 6.2, good for 4th in the AL.
Choo’s offensive WAR was 5.8 6th in the AL.
Both Choo & Longoria derive a higher share of WAR value because of the defensive positional adjustments.
Let me put it to you this way. Lou Gehrig was the best 1st baseman & Mike Schmidt the best 3rd baseman. Schmidt will get more WAR value because of his defensive position and thus edge closer in overall value. But ask yourself this: Who would you rather have??
Let me know Peace!!

Dennis February 14, 2011

No, I never said that they were better players. I’m just pointing out that there are some metrics that were previously used to demonstrate that Pujols was the best player in the game. By those same measures, he wasn’t the best last season.

The Gehrig vs Schmidt question is interesting, and it raises an issue that is one that I’ve addressed before in comments on PH8. I don’t like comparing across eras, especially when I can’t use the “eyeball test”. I saw Schmidt play, but I never saw Gehrig play live. To complicate matters even more, picking between a 1B and 3B is like picking between my favorite pizza toppings. I can’t go wrong in one sense, but I’m also missing out as well.

I do get your point, though. I’d take Pujols for the next 2-3 years. If I were starting a team tomorrow, I’d take Longoria simply because he’s 25 and signed through 2016.

As for Gehrig and Schmidt, I’d pick Gehrig, because I never did like Schmidt all that much.

Dennis February 14, 2011

No need to stop. Sarcasm and snark are welcome here (just in case you hadn’t noticed). As long as everybody keeps it clean, we appreciate the banter, especially the mindless sort.

E.E RIPPER February 14, 2011

I know this a little off the beaten path, but looking back on Barry Bonds’ deals w/SF at the 30 year/old mark and beyond is an interesting exercise. The average yearly salary he received was a little > 13M/YR. I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make but over the 13 seasons from 30 to 42 he was the highest paid player “only” 5 times. This I think is rather remarkable considering the Ruthian like years he had. And from what I remember Bonds didn’t really whine all that much about it (which is arguably the most remarkable fact of all LOL) So I guess Dennis that you have a point in that the dynamics of the baseball economy are strange and that a more creative way in structuring future contracts will eventually become the norm. But I have a feeling that we won’t see that forward thinking when it comes to the Pujols deal.

Dennis February 14, 2011

I remember the Bonds years in SF pretty well, and the economic climate has dramatically in just the past 8-10 years. Actually, I remember when a huge deal was made about the Giants “rewarding” Barry with $22M for his age 40 season. Prior to that point, I recall that for a lot of his mid-30s he really seemed like he wanted the World Series win more than anything else. The money/respect issue was an undercurrent, but he really seemed to want to win it all around his age 33-38 seasons.

I agree that we won’t see much forward thinking on the Pujols deal, but I’m optimistic that we’ll see it eventually. Each year I intend to look at what I consider the top 10 players who aren’t in their arbitration years to evaluate their “contract maturation” levels. Just curious to see how many teams figure out it’s a bad idea to have a superstar hit free agency around age 29-30 (like Cano).

E.E. RIPPER February 14, 2011

You’re right the 8/111 was a great hedge for the club and a nice guarantee
for the player. And you’re also right about the Cards making a mistake by
not extending him circa 2006/2007. It’s interesting how this whole drama is
playing out. I believe the perception most fans had would be that Albert
would give the Cards a sort “hometown discount”. Especially given his
overtly Christian code of behavior. You have probably seen those “What would
Jesus Do?” bumper stickers tee-shirts etc.. I would how Jesus would go about
these contract talks??? LOL! Of course, Jesus would be worth at least
As far as the Cubs, you’re right the Soriano deal is worse than the Zambrano
deal but you have to admit that using a 91M pitcher in a set-up role is
about as damning an indictment of front-office ineptitude as one can find.

Dennis February 14, 2011

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe in “hometown discounts”. I do believe in “comfort discounts”. If a player doesn’t want to uproot his family, it may be worth taking a little less to stay put. As with any career move, it’s a very personal decision.

The Zambrano deal is an indictment in terms of the salary, because it was an overpay. On the other hand, it’s worth thinking back to the situation the Cubs were in when they made that deal. The Cubs were on their way to winning the division, and Zambrano was a young stud. Keep in mind that excepting that age 20 season with 7 2/3 innings, he’s never had an ERA above 4.00 for a season. His career ERA is 3.50. He was like 26 when they made the deal, so they were paying for some of his best years at a known rate. Over the last 3 seasons, he’s gone 34-17, so he may be crazy, but he’s not useless.

E.E. RIPPER February 16, 2011

You know what? I don’t think the real problem with baseball economics is the superstar contracts given to actual superstars, but rather the superstar contracts given to non-superstars. I think one could probably find that most, if not all, of the teams have done this. And this practice, combined with not locking up their own good young players with reasonable deals, is really the thing that puts most clubs in a bind. A partial list..
Toronto: Vernon Wells 7/126, given when he was 29.. was he ever that good???
Boston: J.D. Drew 5/70 was 31 when deal started, too old, too fragile.
New York Yankees: A.J Burnett 5/83.5 was 32 when deal began, too old, never an ace.
Baltimore: Albert Belle 5/65 Belle was still a good slugger, but he apparently had a degenerative form of arthritis that ended his career after two years with the O’s. Obviously, the Baltimore team doctors missed something .. and so it is was bad contract.
Tampa: Greg Vaughn 3/24 & Vinny Castilla 2/13.5 were washed up, these type of deals are why the Rays were so bad for so long. No bad contracts currently. That’s why they’ve been good.
Cleveland: Travis Hafner 6/66 for a 33/yr old DH with no upside
Detroit: Dontrelle Willis 3/29 was only 26 but came off a 10-15, 5.17
year pitching in pitcher’s park in the NL. Technically this is a Marlins contract and trade, but Detroit was stupid in taking this turkey.
Minnesota: N/A That is why they compete every year w/low payroll
Chicago White Sox: David Wells 1/9.25 was paid to be fat & hurt, Paul Konerko 3/37.5 is 35 and is a GIDP waiting to happen
Kansas City: Jose Guillen 3/36 to be overrated & clubhouse cancer
Seattle: Richie Sexson 4/50 lot of money for not much. Honorable mention: Ichiro 5/90 At 34 he ain’t gettin’ any faster, .376 OBP good but not great. (I know people are going to give me grief about this..)
Oakland: N/A see Minnesota (Eric Chavez not bad in concept just bad luck injury wise)
Anaheim (or whatever): Gary Matthews 5/50 one good season & then this???
Texas: A-Rod 10/252 Yes he was a star, but this was sooo stupid….
New York Mets: Carlos Delgado 4/56 Began at 34 starting a rapid decline.
Philadelphia: Cliff Lee 5/120 Won’t even be the ace of the club. 120M for 32 yr/ old pitcher yikes!
Washington: Jayson Werth 7/126 I like his game but this???
Atlanta: Chipper Jones 3/42 I love Chipper, he’s a future Hall of Famer, but he is DONE.
Florida: N/A They trade players before they get paid (see Detroit). Hanley Ramirez will most certainly be traded soon….
Cincinnati: Eric Milton 3/25.5 Less than mediocre… At least he was a lefty.
Pittsburgh: Jeromy Burnitz 1/6 (37) Pittsburgh has doled out lots of these type of contracts over the past 15 years.
St. Louis: Matt Holliday 7/120 Very good player. Superstar money..
Milwaukee: Jeff Suppan 4/40 Was never better that a journeyman..
Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano 8/136 One word ..absurd.
Houston: Carlos Lee 6/100 Has trouble in left. Has trouble pushing himself away from the table.
San Francisco: Barry Zito 7/126 Yes he won a Cy Young, but he always seemed to walk a fine line..Has never posted a sub 4.00 ERA in SF. Perhaps a bit unfair to list..
Los Angeles: Shawn Green 5/67 was superstar money then. Very good player. Got him at 27, but still a disappointment.. Also Kevin Brown 7/105 Got him at 34…Injuries. Too much too long.. When healthy he was actually great.
Colorado: Mike Hampton 8/121 Quite possibly the worst pitching contract in history. Ground ball pitcher good. Lots of walks & not many swings and misses bad.
San Diego: Brian Giles 6/65 was a terrific player but was 33 at the time and had already lost a step. Let the ballpark get into his head & wasn’t all that good as a Padre.
Arizona: Tony Womack 5/18+ When the Diamondbacks started they overspent on everyone..large cumbersome contracts haunted them long after 2001 so..There are other examples I could use but Womack provides the following career line- .272/.313/.356.- that seems to me to be as close to useless offensive production as one might find in an everyday player.
Thoughts anyone?? Don’t be shy.

Dennis February 16, 2011

I think you’re close on this one. I’d argue that the problem is superstar contracts given to guys who were superstars at one time. The issue is judging who will keep playing at a high level and for how long, and there are some that are just dumb contracts. I’m comfortable with saying that the Holliday deal will work out okay, but that’s because his 2010 season was pretty darn good. Actually, he was one of the top 10 most productive outfielders in MLB. According to my fantasy league draft calculations, he was top 5.

I’ve considered writing about the A-Rod contracts, but I’ve never gotten around to it. I’ve seen people use both the 10 year deals as examples of really bad contracts, and I disagree. The 10/252 deal wasn’t nearly as bad as his current contract, and it’s not just because he’s being paid more now. His 10/252 contract covered the years 2001-2010. Over that span, he totaled 64.8 WAR which works out to an average of 6.48 WAR per season. Unless I’m mistaken, that’s a pretty decent return on an average of $25.2M / year.

Some of the other deals you mention look worse on paper than they really were/are. J.D. Drew is one example. Yes, 5/70 is expensive, but he’s average 19 hr/yr over the first 4 years of the deal, and something like $9M of his salary is deferred this season based on a games played clause. He’s also played some pretty solid defense and hit RHP pretty well.

If anything, I think the fact that most players have to play 4-5 years before they can make BIG money is what hurts so much. Once they reach free agency, they have a huge sense of urgency to strike it rich. If they have a big season a just the right time, they are aligning themselves just right for a huge payday. The system is set up to create a very rich upper class, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

E.E. RIPPER February 16, 2011

Well my thinking about the 10/252 A-Rod deal was that the Rangers ended up bidding against themselves…so that’s pretty stupid.. But thinking about it further you’re right. The Yankees, under no pressure to extend him, were even dumber so I suppose we could use this A-Rod deal as a baseline for a sort of “Stupid Contract Index”.
J.D Drew… 19 hr/yr w/good defense sounds like a real expensive, less dependable Paul O’Neill. Deferred salary eventually needs to be paid and 5/70 is guaranteed.. Is 19 hr/yr hitting in Fenway playing in the AL as a right fielder all that good? Nick Swisher has averaged around 26 hr/yr in his first 6 full seasons.. Just sayin’
The timing issue was what my first comment was about. So using our shiny new Stupid Contract Index as a baseline, Pujols will most likely not accept anything less than something around 8/240 – 10/300. Yeah maybe I was a little hasty/harsh in my examples but I think you get my drift. Peace!
The deferred money thing is interesting. I don’t know maybe I’m being stupid but I think in a lot of cases a team would be better off just paying the money up front rather than paying~ 2-3M/yr for X # of years to a retiree. I guess it’s just that being from Chicago I’ve seen the Cubs do just that (paying good money to a guy sitting on a beach somewhere) LOL!!!

Dennis February 16, 2011

The Drew/Swisher comparison is fair, but it lacks some context. Keep in mind the market when the Red Sox signed Drew and the year he had just had with the Dodgers (.283/20/100). Also, you’re comparing Swisher’s early career with Drew’s later years. That means you’re omitting a few stellar years in which Drew tore it up, and it also ignores some stolen base numbers for Drew as well. Think about what Swisher will make when he hits his age 31-35 seasons. I suspect it will be as much or more than what Drew got for the same seasons.

I definitely get your drift and certainly agree with you on most of your examples. Vaugh, Belle, Green, and Hampton were horrible deals. Carlos Lee was an overpay on paper, but very few expected him to play the way he has.

For most teams the deferred money thing doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but some teams use it well. Those teams tend to be better at forecasting profit/revenue margins and need to smooth out payroll outlays over time. Even a million here and a few million there could be the difference between being a buyer or not being a buyer at a trade deadline in some cases. The Cubs haven’t been great at this stuff for a while, but I really think that they are getting better. It’s not something that us Cardinals fans really want to see happen, though. 🙂

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