Buster Olney, with some news this morning:
Not surprisingly, Andrew Friedman’s deal with the Dodgers is record-setting: from sources, $35 million over 5 years, plus incentives.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 24, 2014
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).
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.