Contracts Can Kill: Mark Teixeira

To celebrate the inauguration of a brand new, $1.3 billion dollar stadium back in 2009, Brian Cashman went out and purchased one marquee pitcher (C.C. Sabathia), one tattoo aficionado (A.J. Burnett), and the best first baseman since Tino Martinez (Mark Teixeira).  Both the Red Sox and Angels made substantial offers for Teixeira both of which drove Teixeira’s price up.  As of 2012, the Yankees now have three of the top ten-highest paid players in the majors.  Mark Teixeira is now the third-highest paid first baseman in baseball. Does he play like the third-highest paid first baseman?  Is he at least in the top five?  Was this a good acquisition for the money? A quick comparison of salaries and statistics:

Adrian Gonzalez: salary $154 million over seven years, average of $22 million per year

UZR Slash HR WAR
2009 5.8 .277/.407/.551 40 6.2
2010 1.1 .298/.393/.511 31 5.2
2011 11.1 .338/.410/.548 27 6.6

 Joey Votto: $225 million over 10 years, average of $22.5 million per year

UZR Slash HR WAR
2009 -1.1 .322/.414/.567 25 4.7
2010 1.6 .324/.424/.600 37 7.3
2011 7.4 .309/.416/.531 29 6.9

Miguel Cabrera*: now plays third base, $153 million over eight years, average of $19.1 million per year

UZR Slash HR WAR
2009 3.5 .324/.396/.547 34 5.3
2010 -6.2 .328/.420/.622 38 6.3
2011 -3.8 .344/.448/.586 30 7.3

 Albert Pujols: $240 million over 10 years, average of $24 million per year

UZR Slash HR WAR
2009 3.1 .327/.443/.658 47 9.0
2010 1.5 .312/.414/.596 42 7.5
2011 2.4 .299/.366/.541 37 5.1

Prince Fielder: $214 million over nine years, average of $23.7 million per year

UZR Slash HR WAR
2009 1.7 .299/.412/.602 46 6.4
2010 -7.4 .261/.401/.471 32 3.4
2011 -5.1 .299/.415/.566 38 5.5

 And Mark Teixeira: $180 million over eight years, average of $22.5 million per year.

UZR Slash HR WAR
2009 0.6 .292/.383/.565 39 5.2
2010 -2.9 .256/.365/.481 33 3.2
2011 8.6 .248/.341/.494 39 4.2

When you consider that Miguel Cabrera now plays third for Detroit and that Joey Votto plays in the National League Central, Mark Teixeira definitely ranks among the top five first baseman in the majors.  Defensively, he was the second-best first baseman last year in terms of ultimate zone rating (UZR) and top-three over the last three years. His Slash numbers are solid, not impressive compared to the above, but certainly competitive.  In terms of homerun production, his total over the last three years (111) was third behind Prince Fielder’s  (116) and Albert Pujols ‘ (126).  Last season, by the way, in which he ONLY hit 39 homeruns, was his worst since his rookie season.

The Yankees are committed to Teixeira through 2016, at which point Teixeira will be 36 years old.  By Yankee standards of late, this is actually pretty young.  His numbers 29 games into the season look like this:

UZR BABIP Slash HR RBI WAR
2.0 .221 .225/.279/.387 4 17 .1

Teixeira, Rodriguez, Jeter, and Sabathia are the only players that the Yankees are committed to through next year as of the writing of this piece.  If Jeter keeps up his current pace, its very likely the Yankees will exercise his player option for 2014 as well.  In light of the pieces in place, and the looming salary cap ($189 million) for 2014, is this a good contract?

Obviously, the Yankees can afford it with little problem.  Team payrolls as of 2010 (the last year for which I could find this information) amounted to a mere 47% of team revenue.  Furthermore, as a switch-hitter, he brings a potential (though thus far only moderately-explored) advantage to the lineup.

On the other hand, check out his post-season numbers :

Slash HRs SO
2009 ALDS .167/.231/.417 1 1
2009 ALCS .222/.290/.259 0 8
2009 WS .136/.296/.213 1 8
2010 ALDS .308/.357/.615 1 2
2010 ALCS .000/.176/.000 0 4
2011 ALDS .167/.286/.278 0 5

What we can glean from this is that he, and the rest of the Yankees, hits well against the Twins in the post-season.  It seems he ends his seasons the same way that he starts them: slowly.  There is also the issue of what to do with him as his fielding fades. Alex Rodriguez has dibs on DH through age 42.  This limits the Yankees’ options though at least they’ll save money on the Andruw Joneses of the future.

In terms of regular-season value, this has proven to be a good contract, considering the Yankees’ financial resources and considering the context of his acquisition.  The Cashman needed him to sell tickets for the inaugural year of 2009 and the Red Sox and Angels helped drive his price up further.  And he did help the Yankees to their first World Series championship since 2000.  If 2011 proves to be an anomaly, and if he shows up during the playoffs this year, this will prove to be a very good contract.  Its hard to overvalue 33+ homeruns per season, coupled with a glove as capable as Teixeira’s.  His starts have been slow, but he’s proven pretty solid throughout the regular season. He’s already won one ring, and I predict he’s got a few more in him.

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3 Responses to Contracts Can Kill: Mark Teixeira

  1. stoogazzo says:

    Regarding Teixeira, the Yankees are stuck with this stiff and his 22.5 million per year. Last night the bum got two hits raising his average to 221, a dribbler down the third base line and a looper to left. Yet he is rarely criticized by the media. As a matter of fact, that fat arrogant pig on the Fan, Mike Francesa, continues to praise him. The Yankees are stuck with his contract for four more years. Every year he becomes progressively worse and his slow Aprils continue into the playoffs. Yet he continues to get a free pass from the media and the fans. I wonder why?

  2. Keena says:

    I believe that short right field porch screws guys up because they start swinging for the fences every time up. I think that's what happened to Tex. I don't think he's a stiff but admittedly his batting has been pathetic. Luckily his defense is second to none.

    • Bullshark says:

      Yep, the batting is not exactly stellar, but defensively he's worth it for 4 more years.