It seems like the cool thing to do these days to hand ridiculously large contracts to professional athletes. In 2013, several major league players have been handed contracts in excess of $20 million per year. However, is it worth it to pay one player so much when the entire team needs to play well to win games? Let’s take a look at a few reasons why it may not be the best idea to overpay a player.
It Prevents Roster Flexibility
If your star player gets hurt, how do you replace that player without spending too much money? Unless you have a player already on the roster who can replace the production that you were getting from your star player, it will be hard to trade for or sign another player of equal productivity.
On the flip side, if that player doesn’t play well, you can’t sit a player who is making $10,000 or more per game. That is a waste of money, and the fans will remind you about that each game that the struggling player sits. Therefore, you have no choice but to put a struggling player in the lineup when someone else could be getting the job done in his place.
Team Chemistry Can Be Altered
Over the past several seasons, teams in all sports have tried their luck at assembling rosters full of talented players in the hopes of making the playoffs. However, most of those efforts failed or took awhile to get going.
The Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL went 8-8 with a supposed dream team in 2011, the Miami Heat started 9-8 the first season that LeBron played for them and most recently, the Dodgers and Blue Jays have stumbled out of the gate after acquiring many high priced players.
Why is it hard to win when you spend so much money? Part of it is the pressure of living up to the contract as well as having never played with your teammates before. Ideally, a team wins when it has players who have grown up together and have learned a single style of play together.
Athletes Get Old Quickly
Alex Rodriguez is the perfect example of why you don’t give an older player a long-term contract with a lot of guaranteed money. At the age of 38, Rodriguez is still owed $100 million over the next five years. However, there is little chance that he will see the field much for the Yankees this season or any season after that. He is doing nothing but holding the team hostage at this point. Unfortunately, the Yankees have no one to blame but themselves in this case. It should be a warning sign to teams in the future to offer either many years or a large annual salary instead of both.
Justin Verlander has over 200 million reasons to smile over the next several seasons. However, if he doesn’t bring a World Series to Detroit, the fans may wonder if he is worth the money. Management may be on the hook as well if the deal doesn’t pan out as the team hopes it will. Overall, players who earn large guaranteed contracts have everything to gain and almost nothing to lose.