Putting his next contract in Perspective
Baseball contracts are probably one of the more wilder things in sports. In the NFL, when a player signs a contract you always hear about “guaranteed money” figures. No need to mention in MLB because all contracts are fully guaranteed. So even if a player gets cut, injured, found guilty of using PED’s, screws the manager’s wife…it doesn’t matter. They’re cashing checks.
Another difference is that the NFL has a salary cap, which doesn’t exist in MLB. Unlike the Padres, teams with rich owners are always at an advantage when it comes to signing free agents (i.e. recently departed Justin Upton). The same can be said when it comes to locking down young talent within the organization who are up for free agency (think Adrian Gonzalez). Sure, just because you spend money doesn’t mean you win. But it sure as hell doesn’t hurt.
Despite the recent surge in payroll, the Padres are still in the bottom half of the league and will continue to stay there when it comes to spending.
To try to grasp what Tyson Ross could be looking at on the open market, I’ll compare his stats to a couple of other players that recently received new contracts. First, a look at what Tyson has done the last two years.
Rick Porcello – signed a 4 year / $82,500,000 contract with the Boston Red Sox
Average Salary – $20.6 M a year
Jordan Zimmerman – signed a 5 year / $110,000,000 contract with the Detroit Tigers
Average Salary – $22.0 M a year
Are these the best comparisons? Probably not. I did not have Jonah Hill’s algorithm used in Moneyball at my disposal. How many of us could even explain what an algorithm is? Not I. But the stats are close enough for the purpose of this article.
I’m not here to debate who is the best of these three, I just wanted to see what kind of new contracts players received that are in the ballpark of what Tyson could be looking at in free agency. It is looking like Tyson could be headed towards a big pay day. Even though it is widely expected the Padres won’t retain him, is it really that implausible? In my humble opinion, James Shields’s future could play a major role.
The Shields Factor
If the Padres are looking to keep Tyson Ross long-term, James Shields could be the X factor. Shields is making $21 million this season. He is scheduled to make the same amount of money in 2017 and 2018, with a club option of $16 millon in 2019. However, Jimmy can opt out of his contract after this season (or after 2017) and hit the open markets if he so desires.
Shields definitely wants to win a championship. The Padres are not in a win now mode. Opting out of his contract and trying to catch on with a team with a better chance to win could make sense for the 34-year-old. But do you know what else makes sense? Cashing in $42 million in two years. He would likely not receive more money than that if he did opt out, barring a tremendous 2016 season that would warrant such a move.
Yes he can be traded, but other teams will have to weigh whether his ability equals his dollar amount. Like most starting pitchers he was overpaid. He was signed during Preller’s moonshot campaign before the 2015 season. If the Padres had to pay any of his remaining contract to facilitate a trade, that would defeat the purpose of clearing up money to sign a guy like Tyson Ross.
But if either situation from the last two paragraphs were to shake out, it would make sense to shift that money Shields was due to an effort to lock down Tyson Ross long-term. The future of the Padres rotation is up in the air. Colin Rea and Drew Pomeranz look the part but their sample size is still small and neither can be counted on as a sure thing. Not to mention the Padres terrible luck when it comes to young starting pitching and Tommy John surgeries. Keeping all of this in mind, signing Tyson Ross as an ace for the foreseeable future certainly wouldn’t piss off many people. The Padres have to be looking to contend at same point, am I right?