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Peter Gammons on the 2005-2006 Free Agent Marketplace

Mike SteffanosTuesday, November 15, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

I read a great ESPN Insider piece by Peter Gammons that really struck a chord with my own feelings regarding this years' free agent marketplace: Low supply, high demand might yield 'some very bad contracts'. Gammons makes the point that in a year with so few potential impact free agents, the few that are out there are sure to benefit, perhaps to the detriment of the team that signs them.

He makes an interesting comparison with the 2000-2001 signings, which are certainly a cautionary tale to signing players to bloated contracts far above their true value. A list he has of the top 11 contracts from that signing period practically speaks for itself:

  • Alex Rodriguez, Texas: 10 years, $252 million
  • Manny Ramirez, Boston: 8 years, $160 million
  • Mike Hampton, Colorado: 8 years, $121 million
  • Mike Mussina, Yankees: 6 years, $88.5 million
  • Darren Dreifort, Dodgers: 5 years, $55 million
  • Denny Neagle, Colorado: 5 years, $51.5 million
  • Kevin Appier, Mets: 4 years, $42 million
  • Charles Johnson, Marlins: 5 years, $35 million
  • David Segui, Orioles: 4 years, $28 million
  • Todd Hundley, Cubs: 3 years, $23.5 million
  • Alex Gonzalez, Toronto: 4 years, 20 million

Of that group, only A-Rod, Manny and Mussina have even come close to earning their contracts, and even those 3 are being paid far beyond their true value. A-Rod's contract kept Texas non-competitive for years, Mussina is being paid as an ace even though he's never been one, and Manny's contract has strained even Boston's salary structure.

When you look at these names, keep in mind that the fans of these teams were excited when these players were signed, believing that they would make the difference. Few did. Something to keep in mind as you hear some of the numbers that are being thrown around already in this hot stove season, and ask yourself, "who will be this year's Darren Dreifort, Denny Neagle, Kevin Appier or David Segui?"

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