Power Ranking the Contracts of Every Dodgers Player
Do not envy me. The task of trying to wrap my head around all the figures and options and numbers and owed money and collected money from Boston, and everything else in between when researching the Dodgers payroll was tiring, to say the least.
That being said, I had fun. It was like rolling around in a bathtub full of money in my mind. And I came out with a long breakdown of who has the best current contract on the Dodgers and why.
Keep in mind:
1. The rankings are based on the size of the contract at market price. That means that Matt Kemp will be high on the power rankings, because a player of his caliber deserves $20 million per year in today's game.
2. I took into account how justifiable a player has made the contract he was given, based on performance. For example, has Ted Lilly really earned his three-year deal (If you're looking for the right answer, it rhymes with Hong-Chih Kuo)?
3. Power rankings can change, so these are just based on what we've seen so far. It is not projecting the future, which makes grading guys like Zack Greinke a little more difficult.
So sit back, relax, and keep wishing you made as much money as these guys to play a game every day.
*All contract details taken from Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise indicated*
There are a handful of players on the 40-man roster who are either still earning their rookie contracts and/or not yet arbitration eligible. If that is the case and I feel their contributions to the team haven't been significant enough yet to garner a ranking, and/or they play such a small role on the team's bank account that it was unnecessary for me to list them, they are here below:
Steven Ames: No Major League service
Alex Castellanos: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Tim Federowicz: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Stephen Fife: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Elian Herrera: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Matt Magill: No Major League service
Paco Rodriguez: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Justin Sellers: Not arbitration eligible until 2015
Shawn Tolleson: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Josh Wall: Not arbitration eligible until 2016
Chris Withrow: No Major League service
29. Juan Uribe - Contract: 3 years, $21 million (including $8 million each in 2012-2013)
Please don't make me justify why this ranks last. Please. Okay, fine. In 143 games with the Dodgers over the first two seasons, he's hit .199 with six homers, 45 RBI and a .262 OBP. I rest my case.
28. Ted Lilly - Contract: 3 years, $33 million (no-trade clause, free agent in 2014)
I understand the signing. I really do. But it just hasn't panned out, mostly due to injuries. Even a soft-tosser like Lilly was bound to get hurt at his age. He's been worth maybe $500,000 over his Dodgers career. Certainly not $22 million so far.
27. Hyun-Jin Ryu - Contract: 6 years, $36 million (doesn't include posting fee, can opt out after 5th year if pitches 750 innings) via ESPN.com
This move actually made sense to me because there is potential for it to be a steal. But it's such a hit-or-miss with international pitchers, and most scouts deemed Ryu a fourth starter at best. Time will tell.
26. Matt Guerrier - Contract: 3 years, $12 million (back loaded)
Good thing this deal pays Guerrier more toward the end of his Dodgers tenure, because injuries have held him back since he signed. There's hope that he could bounce back this year, but he'll have to be pretty impressive to live up to his contract.
25. Brandon League - Contract: 4 years, $27 million (vesting option for 2016, depending on stats)
I firmly believe the Dodgers will have a new closer by the All-Star break in 2013, and not because I have some personal vendetta against League. He's just not that great, historically. In my opinion, Kenley Jansen is a better option and he's a heck of a lot cheaper (more on that later).
24. Yasiel Puig - Contract: 6 years, $42 million via ESPN.com
This could be a steal, just like Ryu. I have higher hopes for Puig, therefore a higher ranking. But if Puig does live up to his potential, he's worth far more than $7 million a year. That being said, the Dodgers gave him all this money knowing he'd be in the minors for at least one, probably two, maybe three years of that length of time.
23. Carl Crawford - Contract: 7 years, $142 million (originally signed by Boston; Dodgers take all but $15 million, free agent in 2018)
What to do with Crawford? If he's fully healthy in 2013 and adjusts back to the outfield, the Dodgers may have done okay. If he gets on base, swipes some bags, and gives them a top of the order threat, they really scored. Anything less is a bust.
22. Josh Beckett - Contract: 2 years, $15.75 million (originally signed by Boston)
I actually like Beckett, and don't really mind the money he's being paid. Especially because he looked positively refreshed in a few starts back in the National League at the end of 2012. But it's a steep cliff, and he's always teetering on the edge. There is potential for disaster here.
21. Chad Billingsley - Contract: 3 years, $32 million ($14 million team option in 2015, or $3 million buyout)
One of the most frustrating players for Dodgers fans has been Billingsley, who will consistently put up a string of three or four dominant starts, and then look like Rick Ankiel on the mound for the next two weeks. Either way, his career has not nearly justified an eight-figure salary.
20. Andre Ethier - Contract: 6 years, $95.5 million (including a vesting option in 2018 for $17.5 million or a $2.5 million buyout)
Don't get me wrong, I love 'Dre as much as the next Dodger fan. But for all his potential, consistent defense and clutch hits, the average versus lefties is downright frightening. Even if his numbers in that scenario were better, it's very clear that Ethier is overpaid.
19. Jerry Hairston, Jr. - Contract: 2 years, $6 million (free agent in 2014)
Hairston, Jr. was a hard-nosed, do-it-all, fan-favorite hustler out there last year and I love him for it. But unless he repeats his performance from 2012 (.273 average, .342 OBP, great defense) off the bench this year, I can't say he's earned his contract.
18. Chris Capuano - Contract: 2 years, $12 million (mutual option for 2014 for $6 million or $1 million buyout)
If only Cappy had continued his first-half success into...well, the second half last year. He was exceeding expectations well into 2012 before completely crumbling down the stretch and reverting to the Capuano we've all seen over eight big-league seasons.
17. Nick Punto - Contract: 2 years, $3 million (traded to Dodgers in 2012 from Boston)
He's scrappy, I'll give him that. But Punto really doesn't serve a huge purpose for this team, especially after the signing of his former teammate Skip Schumaker. Is he worth $3 million over two years? Probably. Is he worth ranking? Debatable.
16. Mark Ellis - Contract: 2 years, $8.5 million ($5.75 million team option for 2014, or $1 million buyout)
When we signed Ellis to this deal, I was all for it. Not the figures, but the player. He's one of the best defensive second baseman of all time (seriously, look at the stats!), and I've always been a fan of his style of play. But I didn't think he'd have anything left in the bat. I still don't think he's worth $4.25 million a year, but I definitely want him starting at second base in 2013!
15. Dee Gordon - Contract: Pre-Arbitration Eligible (free agent in 2018, paid $485,000 so far)
Dear Ned Colletti - please don't trade Gordon. I love his attitude and effort, he just needs to learn how to consistently hit Major League pitching. With that speed, he could turn a corner in the next couple years and become a dynamic leadoff hitter.
14. Zack Greinke - Contract: 6 years, $159 million (can opt out after third season, or any season if traded)
I knew it would take a massive deal to land the hottest pitcher on the market this winter, but that doesn't mean the lack of shock makes it a good contract. Greinke is good–hell, he can be great–but I'd rather have Matt Cain, who is making $20 million less over eight years.
13. Hanley Ramirez - Contract: 3 years, $46 million (part of original 6-year, $70 million deal with Miami)
Honestly, $15 million a season isn't that terrible for Ramirez, depending on a couple things. First, will he bring his average up? The guy is a former batting-title champ. And secondly, can he improve on defense? It was abysmal, but if he turns it up on both sides with this loaded team, I'll say he earned the paycheck.
12. Luis Cruz - Contract: Arbitration Eligible in 2014 (free agent in 2018)
This may cause an uproar, but can we give Cruz a full season before jumping to the conclusion that his tiny contract and massive importance to the team means he should be top five on this list? Cruz was fantastic last year, but I want to wait and see how he adjusts in 2013.
11. Javy Guerra - Contract: Arbitration Eligible in 2015 (free agent in 2018, earned about $500,000 so far)
What a steal Guerra has been thus far into his career–and if he didn't get injured last year, who knows. He's shown signs of inconsistency, but for the positive performance in any bullpen role he's brought to this team, half a million dollars is ridiculous.
10. Scott Elbert - Contract: Arbitration Eligible in 2014 (free agent in 2017, earned about $500,000 so far)
As you can see, Elbert is in the same boat as Guerra. The reason he's one slot higher is that he happened to be born left-handed. Okay, and he's also a wee bit more consistent. When healthy, Elbert is a top-notch lefty specialist. And we're paying him in bread crumbs.
9. Aaron Harang - Contract: 2 years, $12 million (mutual option for $7 million in 2014)
You wouldn't think it, based on Capuano's first-half performance in 2012. But Harang was actually the best free-agent starting pitcher the Dodgers picked up before last season. The numbers weren't mind-blowing, but a 3.60 ERA out of your fifth starter is worth a cool $6 million to me.
8. Skip Schumaker - Contract: 1 year, $1.5 million (part of original 2-year, $3 million deal with St. Louis)
It's tough to judge where Schumaker should fit in here with the Dodgers because he hasn't even taken BP as a member of the team yet. But based on what I've seen in St. Louis, Schumaker can do a lot of different things for this club at levels equal to Hairston, Jr.–and just for a smidgen of the price.
7. Ronald Belisario - Contract: Arbitration Eligible in 2013 (free agent in 2017, $900,000 earned so far over two full seasons)
Belisario is straight filth out of the bullpen, but has missed a full season due to personal problems already (2011), and can't be relied upon to show up to Spring Training every year. Still, what he's done as a Dodger thus far for less than a million dollars is impressive.
6. A.J. Ellis - Contract: Pre-Arbitration Eligible (free agent in 2017, $900,000 earned so far)
I'm not really sure how this contract is configured, honestly. Ellis isn't young -- he was drafted in 2003. But he is still under team control until 2017? I don't know. All I'm sure of is that his 2012 season alone was worth ten times what he got paid, if not more.
5. J.P. Howell - Contract: 1 year, $2.85 million
The only thing I don't like about this contract is that it's only one year long! The Dodgers needed another lefty in the pen so they didn't have to count on the inexperienced Paco Rodriguez to carry the load (who knows if Elbert will stay healthy), and they scored a great one with Howell.
With Tampa Bay, he had a 3.04 ERA and has some experience as a closer to boot. Howell is about the same level in my mind as Randy Choate, who signed as a free agent with the Cardinals. I'll take the 29-year-old southpaw over the 37-year-old Choate right now, especially given the relatively small amount Howell is owed.
4. Kenley Jansen - Contract: Arbitration Eligible in 2014 (free agent in 2017, just under $1 million earned so far in two seasons)
Jansen has been a freak of nature for the Dodgers since being called up in 2010, posting a 2.22 ERA, 34 saves and a K/9 over 14 in that time span. His cutter is Mariano Rivera-esque, and his heart problems have been fixed. If I had my way, Jansen would be the closer now, and for a long time after.
If Jansen can stay healthy and put together a couple more really good seasons, he could be looking at a huge pay day when he hits free agency. It's highway robbery that the Dodgers have enjoyed his services for less than a million bucks so far, though.
3. Adrian Gonzalez - Contract: 7 years, $148 million ($3.9 million per season paid by Boston from 2013-2015)
Gotcha! You thought I was going to go for the cheap players all the way to number one. In fact, the contract of Gonzalez is a great deal in my eyes. We're talking about a guy with the following 162-game averages: .294 average, 29 home runs, 103 RBI, .371 OBP.
Plus, the three-time Gold Glove winner plays a slick first base and is only 30 years old. He's in the middle of his prime, fully healthy now, in a loaded lineup, and one season removed from hitting .338 with a .410 OBP. I'd be shocked to see Gonzalez not put up at least three big seasons in Los Angeles before declining.
2. Matt Kemp - Contract: 8 years, $160 million (free agent in 2020)
I don't know about you, but I smile a little bit every time I see that Kemp is going to be in Dodger Blue until 2020. When healthy, Kemp averages a .295/27/95/28 steals/.352 OBP line over 162 games. And he's only 28-years-old. And is a premium defender in center field.
The combination of power, speed, average and defense Kemp possesses is one of the rarest in the game right now, and he's only just getting started. When guys like Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are making millions more per season than Kemp, it makes $20 million a year look like a bargain.
1. Clayton Kershaw - Contract: 2 years, $18.5 million (Arbitration Eligible again in 2014, free agent in 2015, less than $9 million earned so far in four seasons)
The Dodgers are extremely privileged to have a hitter of Kemp's caliber to lock up alongside a pitcher of Kershaw's caliber. That's why every Dodger fan and their mother (presumably, those matriarchs would also root for the Dodgers) is begging Colletti to lock up Kershaw for the long-term.
Chances are a deal will happen before Kershaw hits free agency, if not before 2013 even ends. And what the Dodgers really need to do is hand him a blank check, because at age 24 he is already one of the two best pitchers in baseball.
In four seasons as a Dodger, all Kershaw has done is amassed 61 wins, held a 2.79 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, struck out over 220 batters a season, won a Gold Glove, made two All-Star teams, and won the 2011 Cy Young and a pitching triple crown. For less than $2.5 million a year. That's all, though.
If you want to discuss your salary and where it would rank...or just talk Dodger baseball, tweet Jeremy Dorn @Jamblinman.