No one is going to argue that Max Scherzer won’t be worth the $15 million that Washington will pay him in 2015. Or 2016 and even 2017 for that matter.
It’s the 11 seasons (at $15 million per) beyond 2017 that gets tricky.
With half of the $210 million being deferred beyond the seven years of this deal, the Washington Nationals clearly won’t be making money on this investment after 2021. They should at least hope to get a good value while Scherzer is under contract.
History says they probably won’t.
Seven years is a long time in baseball terms—especially for 30-year olds.
Look at Prince Fielder.
Boras put the then-27 year old Fielder (three years younger than Scherzer is now) on the open market in the fall of 2011 and after remaining free for a couple of months he found a desperate bidder in Detroit, which had just lost Victor Martinez to injury.
Fielder ended up getting a nine-year, $214 million deal—an average of $23.8 million a season.
By his second season with the Tigers (2013) his production had already slipped. His .457 slugging percentage was a career-worst and in the offseason Detroit shipped him and $30 million to Texas.
Last year, his season was cut short by a neck injury—a season that saw him set career-lows in slugging (.360) and average (.247).
Now the Rangers are stuck with an overweight 30-year old who can’t play the field and is a question mark to hit with any power again, yet still has $144 million left on the remaining six years of his contract.
Need more precedence? Look at CC Sabathia.
The big lefty only had to threaten to opt out of his contract after the 2011 season to get a way-too-long extension. The Yankees quickly caved, giving him $124 million reason not to leave (spread over five years) and he stayed put.
Sabathia’s performance has taken a nose-dive since then. Though he posted a strong-looking 15–6 record with a 3.38 ERA in 2012, his fastball didn’t have the same bite by the end of the season. The next two seasons (2013-14) he went a combined 17–17 with a 4.87 ERA in 40 starts.
With another two years and $53 million left on his deal, the Yankees are stuck with a 34-year old coming off major knee surgery and two forgettable seasons.
How about Albert Pujols’ 10-year, $240 million deal or even A-Rod’s $275 million, decade-long contract? If either team could re-do those deals, neither team would surely repeat the same mistakes that they’re paying for now.
Seven years is just too long.