Numbers Simply Mind-Blowing
A few months ago I noticed something called “Salary Crunch” posted on espn.com’s MLB page. Essentially, it’s a calculator that allows anyone who receives a paycheck to compute how long it will take CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, as well as seven other major leaguers, to earn their salary.
This got me wondering just how out of control the business of baseball has become, especially when viewed in the context of the current economic climate. You want to make sure you’re sitting down before you read on because the numbers are mind-boggling, bordering on incomprehensible.
According to a report released last August by the U.S. Census Bureau, real median household income in the United States was $50,233 in 2007. Sabathia will be paid this amount for every .08 games, .55 innings, .04 wins and .55 strikeouts. A U.S. household making the median income would have to work 457.87 years to take home what Sabathia will make annually.
The numbers for Teixeira are equally staggering. He’ll collect $50,233 for every 1.28 at bats, .4 hits, .07 home runs and .27 RBI. A U.S. household making the median income would have to work 447.91 years to earn what the Yankees will pay Teixeira for one season.
Most people realize the Yankees made a major financial commitment by signing the trio of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Teixeira but I bet few realize just how significant the outlay was:
Unfortunately, these figures are merely the tip of the iceberg. While the rest of the country is consumed with anxiety over foreclosures, bailouts and layoffs, many employees of Major League Baseball are cleaning up like the Babbitt brothers in Vegas:
- $62 million-The average amount New York’s three newest stars will earn annually and more than the entire payroll of six teams in ‘08.
- $423.5 million-The final tab for the three free agents and more than the value of half of the franchises in MLB (sixteen to be precise) according to a survey reported by Forbes in April 2008.
- $801.4 million-The total amount spent by the Yankees on free agents the last two offseasons.
- $805 million-The combined value of the four largest contracts in baseball, which belong to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Teixeira and Sabathia.
Despite that spending by teams this winter has been considerably more restrained than in years past and the fact that many free agent players were either forced to accept deals well below their anticipated value or remain unsigned, baseball is enjoying the Mercedes-Benz economy while the rest of us are stuck sputtering along in a jalopy.
- $45 million-The amount of guaranteed money in the two year offer extended to Manny Ramirez by Los Angeles in November. Ramirez and agent Scott Boras reportedly never bothered to respond to the Dodgers’ offer.
- $25 million-The value of the one year contract proposal the Dodgers made to Ramirez, which he rejected approximately two weeks before the start of spring training when free agent prices are more apt to decrease.
- $18 million-The salary arbitration figure Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard submitted for the ’09 season. Howard, who was offered a $4 million raise by Philadelphia, has played only three full seasons in the majors.
- 806-percent-The raise given to Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon when he agreed to a $6.25 million salary for ’09. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 226,117 workers lost their jobs as a result of mass layoffs (defined as an action involving at least fifty people from a single employer) in December 2008.
- $9.5 million-The payout Sabathia will receive from the Yankees before he throws his first official pitch. Per his contract, New York must pay him two-thirds of his signing bonus ($6 million) and $3.5 million of his ’09 salary before the team opens the season on April 6.
- $22.1 million-The amount the Dodgers will pay Andruw Jones not to play for them after releasing him in the middle of January and slightly more than the World Series champion Phillies paid their entire outfield corps last season.
- $18.35 million-The total compensation earned by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2007. Selig’s base pay was $17.47 million, or 4,300-percent more than the salary of the President of the United States.
Justin Booth is a diehard Red Sox fan living in Brookline, MA and uses his above average writing skills to opine about his favorite team. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
This column was written on February 19, 2009.