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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Are one year contracts better for some players than a multi-year contract?

Hiroki Kuroda finished his U.S. career with three one year contracts.

YearAgeTeamSalaryServTm(OpnDay)SourcesNotes/Other Sources
200833Los Angeles Dodgers$7,433,333?
200934Los Angeles Dodgers$12,433,333?
201035Los Angeles Dodgers$15,433,3332.000
201136Los Angeles Dodgers$11,765,7243.000
201237New York Yankees$10,000,0004.000contracts
201338New York Yankees$15,000,0005.000contracts
201439New York Yankees$16,000,0006.000contracts
Career to date (may be incomplete)$88,065,723
from baseball-reference.com
Photo of Hiroki Kuroda
I don't think this was strategic on Kuroda's part to get the most money but that he was conflicted and/or ambivalent about how much longer he wanted to pitch in the USA.  In 2015 Kuroda threw 170 innings for the Hiroshima Carps in the Japan Central League: ERA 2.55.

When Kuroda was signing those one year contracts with the Yankees I wondered if he was winding up with more money than if he had tried for a multiple year contract.

For the last four years teams could make a one year qualifying offer to their players who were becoming free agents.  For the 2016 season the set amount for all free agents is $15.8 million.  If another team signs the player, the team losing the player gets a coveted draft pick.  That loss of a draft pick has discouraged teams from signing such players and caused offers to be lower.

The most noted player to make the wrong decision in declining the one year offer of about $15 million is Stephen Drew, who wound up signing with his own team, the Red Sox, for much less ($10 million) in 2014 and then receiving half that from the Yankees in 2015.

Finally a player has accepted the qualifying offer.

Rasmus Becomes 1st to Agree to Accept Qualifying Offer
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSNOV. 12, 2015, 10:31 P.M. E.S.T. in The New York Times

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A player agreed to accept a qualifying offer for the first time in the four-year history of the compensation system rather than remain a free agent ...

Outfielder Colby Rasmus agreed to accept Houston's $15.8 million qualifying offer, the team said Friday.

None of the 34 qualifying offers was accepted in the first three years of baseball's current collective bargaining agreement and 20 more were made last week. The deadline is Friday 5 p.m. EST ...

The qualifying offer salary is determined by the average of the highest 125 contracts in the major leagues. When a player fails to accept a qualifying offer and signs a big league contract elsewhere before June's amateur draft, his former team gets an additional high selection as compensation. Because the signing club loses a top pick, the market has slowed for some less-than-prime free agents.

Like Kuroda, Rasmus indicated that his decision may have more to do with personal preference rather than cold calculation.  Rasmus is 29, ten years younger than Kuroda was, and coming off his best home run season: 25 in only 432 at bats.  Rasmus hit four more home runs in the tournament in only 17 at bats.  Rasmus was paid $8 million in 2015, so he will get about double that in 2016.

After Rasmus, 29 year old Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters also accepted the $15.8 qualifying offer from his team.  Wieters was paid $8.3 million in 2015.

The big tournament home run hitter was Daniel Murphy of the Mets.  Murphy was also paid $8 million in 2015 but Murphy turned down the $15.8 qualifying offer to try for a multi-year contract with another team.  Murphy hit 7 home runs in 38 at bats in the first two rounds of the tournament, then none in 20 at bats in the finals.  Murphy also made two critical fielding errors in the finals at second base on easy plays that contributed to the Mets losing.

Murphy turns 31 April 1.  Let's see what kind of deal Murphy gets ... after declining double his salary.

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