They say it’s always more fun to play with other people’s money. And while we don’t get to actually spend the money that Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth have landed this Hot Stove season, we can look at their salary numbers.
The fact that two of the most coveted free agents this off-season were both outfielders, and both landed 7-year deals tells you how the market can function. As one deal is agreed to (Werth with the Nationals) it sets the table for others to follow in one form or another.
Such was the case with Carl Crawford and the Boston Red Sox.
With the details of the contracts (see Werth’s and Crawford’s) we can do a comparison between the two and see that while total dollars are different, they wind up seeing salary toward the end being nearly identical.
Werth’s deal is for $126 million, with $4 million being a signing bonus. For Crawford, his is a $142 million deal with a $6 million being a signing bonus. Both are for 7-years.
When breaking down base salary, Werth gets a total of $122 million while Crawford’s is $136 million, a difference of $14 million.
Examining the graph below, you’ll see that the difference between the contract base dollars happens in the first years of Crawford’s contract. He earns $4 million more in 2011, $6.5 million more in 2012, $4 million more in 2013, and then levels off with $250,000 more in 2014.
But from there, the salaries are almost identical with Werth actually earning slightly more than Crawford down the stretch ($50,000 in 2015, $25,000 in 2016) before both end the contract life at $21 million in 2017.
Werth’s deal is a gradual climb to 2014. Increases from 2011 escalate at 30%, 23%, and 25% while Crawford’s over the same time spikes after next season increasing 39% for 2012 and then leveling off at 2.6% for 2013 and just 1.3% in 2014.
So, the strategy for the Red Sox is to absorb a large chunk of Crawford’s total salary in 2012 before leveling off in the rest of the contract life while the Werth deal is a steady climb before more or less leveling off beginning in 2014.
Same number of years. More total money for Crawford. Nearly identical salaries over the last 4 years of their contract lives. Big money for Crawford early on with the Red Sox.
Welcome to the money game.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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