Bargain of the decade
Not literally (the Evan Longoria contract and maybe a couple others would beat it out), but there’s a reason for the time interval chosen in the title. Now that the Franklin Gutierrez extension is official, let’s take a look at what it costs to sign a CF for his age 27-30 seasons and buy out one season of free agency, when the guy is all-world defensively, has a little bit of power, and is generally competent offensively, although being a righthanded hitter, Safeco Field hurts his production somewhat:
Signing bonus: $1.25 million
Age 27: $2.225 million
Age 28: $3 million
Age 29: $4.25 million
Age 30: $7 million
Total outlay for 4 years – $17.725 million. But that doesn’t quite add up, you might think, the number doesn’t match reports that Gutierrez’s new contract is for $20.5 million. That’s right, it doesn’t. We haven’t seen the exact breakdown of his extension yet. These numbers are what Mike Cameron was paid during his Mariner career, starting exactly a decade ago. (To be precise, Cameron actually signed a 3-year deal with the signing bonus after being arbitration-eligible his first year.)
Now, if you’ve spent much time here you should already know that Cameron was (and still is) seriously undervalued. Ten years later, the Mariners will be paying just 15.7% more for his equivalent. That’s in raw dollars, without adjusting for inflation of any kind. In the U.S., inflation over the past ten years comes in at 28.5%, even with a couple of stock market crashes in the interim. In major league baseball, the average salary has gone up 88% over the last ten years.
Sure, we’re going through a bit of a correction for baseball salaries, but this is still an incredible bargain. You can calculate however you like what the contract should be worth and come up with numbers like $30 million, $40 million, $60 million (as Matthew did over at Lookout Landing). You can’t come up with $20 million. This is just as good a deal as Cameron was in the first place.
All that, and I haven’t even mentioned the team option for 2014. We’ll see how good that looks depending on how Gutierrez ages, but I think we can at least hope that this time, our GM won’t get tired of our centerfielder just because he strikes out too much.