All eyes will be on Camelback Ranch, where Trevor Bauer – suddenly the highest-paid player in MLB history, slated to make $ 40 million this year – begins his tenure as the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Should he opt out after that year, the average annual value of the deal will be $ 40 million, which means Bauer can claim the highest annual value for any player in Major League history. If he stayed for the duration of the deal, that would have been an average annual value of $ 34 million. Among the starting mugs, only Gerrit Cole ($ 36 million) and Stephen Strasburg ($ 35 million) have issued higher orders for the duration of a deal, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
But what Bauer’s deal in AAV offers gives in total value. By the time Bauer signed his contract, the usual plan for Cy Young winners was to hit the market and get as much money as possible for as long as possible (see Coles $ 324 million over nine years or Strasbourg’s $ 245 million over seven Years). Jugs are fragile, as are their careers. Could Bauer’s Deal Change the Paradigm?
The short answer after talking to agents (including Bauers) is likely not. Whether Bauer could have signed a long-term contract like that of Cole or Strasburg after only a few years of elite performance remains unclear, as Bauer himself ruled this out.
The 30-year-old said he wanted to get one-year contracts for the rest of his career. He told his agents – Rachel Luba and Jon Fetterolf – that he wanted a short-term deal instead of a long one, to put flexibility over security.
In his introductory press conference last week, he said, “I want to have a chance to win and I don’t want to be a player who signs a long-term contract and then either the fan base or the organization or the organization I agree that my performance is below what my contract requires. “
Bauer’s agents didn’t say what interest Bauer had in longer-term deals, but they did emphasize that he told them not to investigate. They said they were looking at the evolution of the average annual value of consecutive deals with Max Scherzer ($ 30M), David Price and Clayton Kershaw ($ 31M), Zack Greinke ($ 32M), Justin Verlander ($ 33M) ) and Strasbourg ($ 35 million) and Cole ($ 36 million), thinking Bauer’s first year at $ 40 million and three years at $ 34 million meant the deal was exactly in line with the deals ended, the elite starter pitchers were given before him.
“When someone says, ‘You only got them $ 102 million. If I was the agent, I would have done X, Y and Z. “You forget the fact that this is not the kind of business he wanted to do,” said Fetterolf. “If Trevor Bauer had come in and said, ‘I want to do a traditional deal: most years, most dollars’, the outcome would have been very different.”
Kershaw and Scherzer could both get back into the free agent market next winter, but they’ll be 34 and 37 respectively in 2022. Their next deals, in case they sign the next deals, will likely look very different from what they got in their primes.
New York Mets right-handed Noah Syndergaard will be 29 when he first comes into the free hand in late 2022. He will be returning from surgery on Tommy John and has a history of injuries, but the statistical evolution of his career is more like Strasbourg and Cole than Bauer.
Consensus from chatting with agents is that Bauer’s deal, while creative, is unlikely to suddenly change the norms. A history of injury throwers like Syndergaard will likely want safety and overall worth.
Bauer is a rare combination of confidence and competitiveness, which means he is willing to sacrifice money in the long run to push for more business in the short term. Even Scherzer, who is so competitive that he can hardly do a punch training without creating competition, wanted security.
If there is anything about Bauer’s approach that could affect the market more generally, it could be the wage structure used by Luba and Fetterolf. Fetterolf lives in Washington and is a litigator at Zuckerman Spaeder. He has conducted arbitration for the Major League Baseball Players Association and teamed up with Luba, a longtime friend of Bauer’s who also worked for the union early in her career to give the starter an unorthodox line-up.
While most agents charge commissions – say 4 percent of total business – Fetterolf and Luba have introduced a pay scale that is more similar to normal legal fees. They charge a much lower percentage fee than their hourly rates and cap the total near this more traditional percentage.
“I started thinking about using the same model as a law firm and calculating the value of my services instead of basing it on the value that the player himself creates on the field,” said Luba, the farmer as one of the baseball players added more data-driven gamer, was willing to consider a non-traditional approach.
For now, Bauer’s health and performance will likely drive his contract plans. Deals like his may be a better fit for teams that are nervous about tying up $ 300 million over nine years but are more willing to try $ 100 million over three years.
On the other hand, the teams tend to get a fairly consistent ROI from these big deals: with the exception of Bauer, the seven highest-paid starters in the history of the big league – Cole, Strasbourg, Price, Kershaw, Greinke, Scherzer and Verlander – have all crept in World Series at least once since 2018.