The absurdity of long-term free agent contracts

Over the past several years in Major League Baseball, player salaries have risen, and with them, the value of free agent contracts. It seems that every offseason, players whose contracts are up or have become free agent-eligible for the first timed are increasingly hyped.

Teams fight over them, and they are eventually offered deals that will pay them big money well past their primes. Sometimes, they will live up to these contracts for the first few years, but eventually, reality sets in and the numbers drop. However, they continue to get paid like superstars, even when they are average players at best.

The problem is not that these free agents are good players. For the most part, recipients of huge, $100 million plus contracts have been amazing throughout their careers. But once they are free agents, they are often in the middle of or near the end of their primes. Most analysts agree that a player’s best years will occur between the ages of 25 and 32.

This period fluctuates, but the point is that once you reach your mid-thirties, your body begins to break down. The problem is that most players are not eligible to be free agents until their late twenties. Another possibility is that they were been signed to a team-friendly contract early in their careers, one that expires at around their thirtieth birthday.

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Best in the business: the overwhelming dominance of Clayton Kershaw

Last week during the All-Star break, there were a lot of comparisons between two great players: Derek Jeter and Mike Trout. The main storyline was the retirement of Jeter, the face of baseball for the last twenty years. But the secondary story was understandably intertwined: the emergence of Trout as his replacement.

Personally, I am one of Trout’s biggest fans. Over the last three years, he has probably been one of the best, if not the best, in baseball. However, when considering who the face of baseball is going to be in 2014 and beyond, there’s another player who should get consideration: Clayton Kershaw.

The case for Kershaw by the numbers

The point here is not to take anything away from Mike Trout, but rather to recall how amazing Kershaw has been. The Dodgers ace was called up in 2008 and struggled at times, putting up an ERA of 4.26, but from 2009 to the present, his numbers have been out of this world. In 2009 and 2010, his performance saw drastic improvements as he posted ERAs of 2.79 and 2.91, respectively. During those years, he was a great young pitcher taking the majors by storm, but he had yet to take his place as the best pitcher in baseball.

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