Look At All These Mediocre Players Making What Andrew Friedman Is

Buster Olney, with some news this morning:

That’s a lot of money! Probably. Right? Think about what other top baseball executives make for a second, and realize that, well, you have absolutely no idea, do you? What does Brian Sabean make? What does Theo Epstein make? Jon Daniels? I’m certain you couldn’t answer that without looking it up. I know I couldn’t, and in several cases, the salaries aren’t even public. (Technically, this isn’t either. We never really knew what Ned Colletti‘s contract was, and we should caveat this with the detail that this is just via an Olney source, nothing more official.)

Still, we didn’t expect Friedman to leave a comfy situation in Tampa Bay for anything less than top dollar, and this is that. Predictably, there’s been some rabble-rabble about those exorbitant luxurious big ticket Dodgers wildly overspending. (Just look at the replies to Olney’s tweet for a taste.) Maybe that’s true. Maybe they could have hired one of the execs they’ve been rumored to have been interested in — Josh Byrnes, David Forst, Billy Eppler, Mike Hazen, etc. — at a fraction of the price and received 80% of the contribution they’ll get from a Friedman/GM team.

Then again, here’s a potentially incomplete list of players who made between $6m and $8m in 2014, by average annual value (not necessarily actual take-home pay this season).

Player AVG
Jason Vargas $8,000,000
Phil Hughes $8,000,000
Carlos Gomez $8,000,000
Marlon Byrd $8,000,000
Melky Cabrera $8,000,000
Brett Anderson $8,000,000
Josh Johnson $8,000,000
Nelson Cruz $8,000,000
Brandon McCarthy $7,750,000
Joaquin Benoit $7,750,000
Matt Wieters $7,700,000
Kyle Kendrick $7,675,000
Omar Infante $7,562,500
Billy Butler $7,500,000
Brandon League $7,500,000
Ryan Ludwick $7,500,000
Juan Uribe $7,500,000
Clay Buchholz $7,486,250
J.J. Hardy $7,416,666
Chris Young $7,250,000
Doug Fister $7,200,000
Madison Bumgarner $7,000,000
Brandon Morrow $7,000,000
Jonathan Broxton $7,000,000
Josh Willingham $7,000,000
Jarrod Saltalamacchia $7,000,000
Charlie Morton $7,000,000
James Loney $7,000,000
Fernando Rodney $7,000,000
Huston Street $7,000,000
Hisashi Iwakuma $7,000,000
Adam Lind $7,000,000
Ben Zobrist $7,000,000
Colby Rasmus $7,000,000
J.J. Putz $7,000,000
Johnny Cueto $6,750,000
Jaime Garcia $6,750,000
Marco Scutaro $6,666,666
Jason Heyward $6,650,000
Chris Sale $6,500,000
Ichiro Suzuki $6,500,000
Giancarlo Stanton $6,500,000
Paul Goldschmidt $6,400,000
Michael Brantley $6,250,000
Justin Morneau $6,250,000
Allen Craig $6,200,000
Trevor Cahill $6,100,000
Ian Kennedy $6,100,000
Yovani Gallardo $6,020,000
Yasiel Puig $6,000,000
Hyun-jin Ryu $6,000,000
Jeremy Affeldt $6,000,000
Jason Motte $6,000,000
Mike Adams $6,000,000
David Murphy $6,000,000
Grant Balfour $6,000,000
Austin Jackson $6,000,000
Corey Hart $6,000,000
Francisco Liriano $6,000,000
Jason Hammel $6,000,000
Michael Morse $6,000,000

There’s some good players on that list. Puig! Ryu! Iwakuma is awesome. So is Gomez. Hughes had a shockingly great year, as did Brantley. But there’s also a ton of catastrophes there, aren’t there? There’s a few middle relievers of various quality. Johnson didn’t throw a pitch for San Diego. Craig was one of baseball’s worst players this year, and capping this at $8m eliminates some of the true disasters, like Brian Wilson, Andre Ethier, B.J. Upton, Tim Lincecum, Dan Uggla, and so on.

The point, really is this: $7m per year buys you a little in terms of players, but not a ton. (Some of the seemingly good values on the list above are misleading, because they weren’t attained in true free agency.) $7m per year to bring in one of the best and brightest executives in the sport, one who will have more impact on so many different areas of the organization than the average player would, seems like a pittance in comparison. (And it won’t even count against the luxury tax!)

So yeah, this is probably a lot of money, but it also comes back to what I’ve always said about the public’s perception of player salaries: Who cares? You should care about what a pro athlete is making for one of two reasons: 1) if spending too much on one player limits the team’s ability to spend to fill other holes, or 2) if an under-performing player is kept in the lineup simply due to his salary. No. 1 hasn’t been an issue for the Dodgers under this ownership group. No. 2 has, to some extent. Otherwise, it really doesn’t matter what a player or exec makes, and if Friedman does what he’s brought in to do, and gets the Dodgers a title, then you won’t care whether he’s making $7m/year or $70m/year.

About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.