|Adrian Gonzalez: ‘I hope [contract] is a bargain for the Red Sox’||04.06.12 at 5:22 pm ET|
DETROIT – To recap, here’s what has transpired in the market for elite sluggers in the last few years, along with the age and 2011 performance of each first baseman who has received a nine-figure contract in the last four year:
Mark Teixeira, Yankees – 8 years (2009-16, ages 29-36), $180 million. $22.5 million average annual value (AAV). Signed as free agent in Dec. 2008.
2011 Stats: Age 31, 156 games, .248 average, .341 OBP, .494 slugging, .835 OPS, 39 HR, 111 RBI
Ryan Howard, Phillies – 5 years (2012-16, ages 32-36), $125 million. $25 million AAV. Signed in April 2010 as extension of three-year, $54 million deal that had two remaining years before free agency.
2011 Stats: Age 31, .253 average, .346 OBP, .488 slugging, .835 OPS, 33 homers, 116 RBI
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox – 7 years (2012-18, ages 30-36), $154 million. $22 million AAV. Signed in April 2011 as extension on $6.3 million salary in 2011, one season before free-agent eligibility.
2011 Stats: Age 29, 159 games, .338 average, .410 OBP, .548 slugging, .947 OPS, 27 HR, 117 RBI
Albert Pujols, Angels – 10 years (2012-21, ages 32-41), $240 million. $24 million AAV. Signed as free agent in Dec. 2012.
2011 Stats: Age 31, 147 games, .299 average, .366 OBP, .541 slugging, .906 OPS, 37 HR, 99 RBI
Prince Fielder, Tigers – 9 years (2012-20, ages 28-36), $214 million. $23.8 million AAV. Signed as free agent in Jan. 2012.
2011 Stats: Age 27, 162 games, .299 average, .415 OBP, .566 slugging, .981 OPS, 38 HR, 120 RBI
Joey Votto, Reds – 10 years (2014-23, ages 30-39), $225 million. $22.5 million AAV. Signed in April 2012 as extension of three-year, $38 million deal that had two remaining years before Votto would have been a free agent.
2011 Stats: Age 28, 161 games, .309 average, .416 OBP, .531 slugging, .947 OPS, 29 homers, 103 RBI
Of that group, Gonzalez had the best average last year, was third in OBP and second in slugging and tied for second in OPS, all despite the fact that the 2011 season was one in which he was recovering from surgery that had denied him the ability to build strength in his right shoulder during the previous offseason.
As for his contract, Gonzalez is close to his peers in average annual salary, though his is the lowest of the group. He has fewer years in his long-term deal than all of those players except Howard.
His contract runs through his age 36 season, meaning that there’s less risk on the back end of the deal than the Angels are assuming in signing Pujols to a deal through his age 41 season and than the Reds will face when Votto is 39 at the end of his deal.
Gonzalez suggested that he is happy for both Votto and the mid-market Reds that they found a deal that would work for both sides.
“I wasn’t surprised. It was expected. You didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I’m glad it happened for him now,” said Gonzalez, who was traded by his hometown Padres after the 2010 season because it was unrealistic at the time for San Diego to extend the slugger given their market realities at the time. “Cincinnati’s got a payroll around $80 million. They draw pretty well. It’s a good city, good fan base. It’s good to see him be able to stay there.”
Of course, the Votto deal offers further ammunition to the perception that Gonzalez’s contract represents a bargain given his skill level and the market.
Initially, Gonzalez took some issue with that suggestion. (“We’re making pretty much the same amount per year,” Gonzalez said of the Votto deal. “That’s the only way I see it.”) However, he also took stock of the fact that no one needs to lose sleep about his earnings — after all, a guaranteed $154 million contract is an ample sum — and the fact that, if such earnings represent “a bargain” for his team, then it’s in the best interests of a team and player who are motivated to seek championships.
“I hope that it’s a bargain for the Red Sox. That means they can go out and build a good team,” said Gonzalez. “I don’t want to strap this team and stop it from signing other players. I’m glad they say it’s a bargain. That’s a good thing for the team.”
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