The $283M Payroll

Baseball fans are secure in the fact that they know more about running a major league team than the people actually in charge. However, when you speak to fans who play Fantasy Baseball, the crescendo of arrogance moves to an entirely different level.

These fanatics study the game’s nuances; look deep inside the numbers and pride themselves in knowing details unimportant to the casual fan. Each off-season, the Fantasy community watches closely as real-world GM’s sign free agents and offer extensions to players on their rosters. It’s always easy to criticize after-the-fact but Fantasy players put their money where their mouth is by bidding at their own annual draft.

Examples of this phenomenon are many, but let’s just use some Orioles pitching decisions as a case study….

  • In 2014, they signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4-year, $50M deal. He went 32-42 and had a 6.81 ERA in the final year.
  • In 2016, they signed Yovani Gallardo to a 2-year, $20M deal. He went 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA and was then traded.
  • In 2018, they signed Andrew Cashner to a 2-year, $16M deal. In his first season, he went 4-15 with a 5.29 ERA
  • In 2018, they signed Alex Cobb to a 3-year, $42M deal. So far, he’s 7-22.

This isn’t about cherry-picking bad decisions. This is about the knowledge of a winning Fantasy player. The experts I play against wouldn’t have rostered these hurlers without hurling their lunch. But yet, Baltimore’s management team obviously felt they were making good decisions.

So, for today’s visit, you’ll be given a 15 man roster of current major league players. Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to avoid the cellar in the standings with a $283M payroll.

1B) Albert Pujols, $24M – One of the greatest players we’ve ever seen, but the Angels made a huge mistake by giving a 10-year contract to a 32 year-old.

2B) Robinson Cano, $24M – Another 10-year commitment to a player already in his 30’s. As of today, he’s made $214M playing baseball and still feels he needs to cheat. Farewell Cooperstown.

3B) Matt Carpenter, $19M – Got a two-year extension at age 34 and hit .186.

SS) Jean Segura, $14M – Got a five-year deal in 2019 and hasn’t come close to matching his past performance.

C) Buster Posey, $18M – A great player and three-time champion but he’ll play 2021 at age 34 after sitting out 2020.

OF) Justin Upton $21M – Got a five-year $106M contract in 2018…in 2020, he had a negative WAR.

OF) Khris Davis $17M – Received a two-year deal prior to 2020 and hit .200.

OF) Ian Desmond $14M – The Rockies gave him a five-year deal in 2017 and have regretted it from day one.

DH) Chris Davis $23M – A millionaire who actually deserves our sympathy. Watching him try to play the game is excruciating.

SP) Johnny Cueto $21M – Going into the last season of six-year $130M deal. The last four seasons, he’s won 14 games.

SP) Chris Sale $26M – Critics always said his motion would cause arm problems. It took seven seasons but they’re finally right. He’s still owed over $100M.

SP) Miles Mikolas $17M – Resurrected his career in Japan but missed all of 2020 with an injury. Still owed over $50M for the next three years.

SP) Madison Bumgarner $17M – One of the great World Series heroes in history, but the first year of a five-year deal was a disaster.

SP) Yusei Kikuchi $14M – Two years into a three-year deal, his ERA so far is 5.39.

RP) – Craig Kimbrel $14M – One of the reasons Theo walked away.

Money can’t buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.


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