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August 23, 2011

Contractual Matters

BP's Compensation Pages

by Jeff Euston

When Cot’s Baseball Contracts first went on-line in October of 2005, Tim Lincecum was a sophomore pitching for the University of Washington, and Albert Pujols was still a month away from collecting his first National League Most Valuable Player award.

A lot has changed in just six years. Lincecum is a bona fide ace, Pujols has taken his place among the game’s greats, and both will sign lucrative new contracts this winter. But if you have paid a visit to Cot’s recently, you’ve seen the same basic low-tech layout used when the site debuted. The team-by-team format—with years, contract values, and other details—served its purpose in a no-frills, replacement-level sort of way, but the site lacked the advantages of a database and a means to sort, search for, and compare financial information, and it’s long past time for the archaic 2004 feel to go.

Finally, after much preparation, much of the information you’ve found at Cot’s is now available here in BP’s Compensation section. Many financial details from Cot’s already have been incorporated into our player cards—a process that began with BP staffers painstakingly removing thousands of semicolons from the old database at Cot’s.  The result is what we hope is a big upgrade over Cot’s and a useful tool in measuring one of the constant challenges facing front offices in every market: spending money efficiently.

The first thing you’ll probably notice at the Compensation home page is the color. A multi-color bar graph, extending horizontally across the page, provides a graphic representation of how much each team is spending this season. With the click of the mouse, you can compare 2011’s totals to 2010 (or any season back to the year 2000). Scroll to the bottom of the page, and you can see a league-wide breakdown of spending by position, complete with a helpful pie chart. (Spoiler alert: Spending big on relief pitching usually is not the most efficient use of resources—though if you’re reading this, chances are that isn’t news to you.)  You can also move forward in time to see what teams are on the hook for in the future.  Did you know that the Red Sox are on the hook for $44 million in 2017?  That's probably $44 million more than your favorite team owes! Payroll figures are as of Opening Day, with slight adjustments to include dead money or cash in trades.

If your curiosity gets the best of you and you want to investigate exactly how the Cubs got to $130 million-plus with their current roster, you can click their logo, see a breakdown of spending on the North Side—through a handy pie chart or in line-item-style—then laugh or cry, depending on where your allegiances lie. How much does Carlos Zambrano still have coming? Mouse over his name and you'll see, or click on it and you’re taken to his player card—which houses a compensation section summarizing his past, present, and future contracts—as well as the details you’re used to seeing at Cot’s, like agents and service-time figures. (Zambrano’s magic number is about $22 million, by the way.)


Mousing over a player name displays service time and contract details in a tooltip.

For my money, the most useful new feature is the incorporation of Wins Above Replacement Player figures into the salary information, providing a yardstick to evaluate efficiency by team, player, or position.

Checking out the 2001 Giants, for example, we see that Barry Bonds earned about 16 percent of team payroll ($10.3 million) while posting an other-worldly WARP mark of 12.2. The Giants paid Bonds $844,152 per win, a bargain at twice the price for a player in the free-agent years of his career. By comparison, San Francisco closer Robb Nen was about 10 percent of San Francisco’s payroll that year with a salary of $6.6 million. He posted a WARP mark of 1.66, a cost of nearly $4 million per win.

We get another measure of Bonds’ production by dividing his WARP (12.2) by his cost in millions ($10.3), showing he delivered 1.18 wins for every million the Giants paid him in 2001. Nen, by contrast, delivered just 0.25 wins for every million he earned. With salaries now integrated with WARP figures, you can compare Bonds with his Giants teammates, his peers in left field around the league, or every other player in baseball. Plus, you can evaluate how efficiently the Giants spent money in constructing their roster or compare their efficiency to their NL West rivals or any of the other 29 teams.  All tables are sortable, as well-click a column header to sort by that column.


Click a column header to sort by that column.

One other benefit: the player cards provide a virtual archive for the contract details of former players. Although Cot’s included a “Notables” page with details for a select group of Hall of Fame-caliber players like Randy Johnson, space was an issue because team pages were limited to the current roster and top prospects. When a player like Andy Pettitte retired, his listing at Cot’s was simply removed from the Yankees page. Now his contract information will remain accessible on his BP player card, not lost to history.

Poke around BP’s new compensation section, and please don’t hesitate to let us know if you catch any errors or omissions (I’m confident they’re out there). Fans visiting Cot’s have never been shy about pointing out everything from typos to million-dollar mistakes, and we’re counting on those of you using the information here at BP to help us smooth the transition and improve the product. Also, if you have reliable information or a tip that might help add to our big collection of contract knowledge, we want to hear from you. To help make life easy, we’re establishing a “Tip Line” where you can click and pass the information along to us—there's a link at the bottom of every Compensation page.  Please be sure to include the source for your update.

Finally, for those of you with an attachment to the old-style pages from Cot’s Contracts, don’t despair. We'll be moving the new Compensation pages in place of Cot's at some point, but Cot’s Version 1.0 will remain available as a sub-page forevermore.

Happy surfing. Peace, love, and lots of zeros.

Jeff Euston is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeff's other articles. You can contact Jeff by clicking here

38 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Ric Size

Superb addition to BP!

Aug 23, 2011 05:28 AM
rating: 14
 
Ric Size

I would add the suggestion that you put a 'Compensation HP' button in the header.

Aug 23, 2011 05:32 AM
rating: 3
 
Sacramento

Always been a fan of your work Jeff, and I'm glad its now fully integrated with BP!

Aug 23, 2011 07:51 AM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Great stuff. Will BP's Compensation section also include Managers/GMs like Cot's does?
Thanks!

Aug 23, 2011 08:01 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jeff Euston
BP staff

Salaries for managers and GMs are not as widely available as those for players. But going forward, we should be able to track hirings, extensions and contract length. When financial numbers are out there, we'll include those, too.

Aug 23, 2011 08:49 AM
 
Sean

Great stuff. I'd suggest ranking players who have a negative WARP as the worst for $/WARP. Right now, if I rank left fielders for which players are being paid the most $ per WARP, Alfonso Soriano doesn't appear among the worst. I thought he may be missing at first.

Aug 23, 2011 08:07 AM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Jeff Euston
BP staff

That's a good suggestion. I know a Cubs fan or two who wouldn't mind if Soriano's contract went missing.

Aug 23, 2011 09:12 AM
 
sensij

Seeing that Brett Myers gets paid almost a billion dollars ($989,391,252) per WARP can't make the Houston fans out there too happy. Better for him to lose another .1 or so and fall out of the calculation completely.

Aug 24, 2011 20:34 PM
rating: 1
 
John Carter

Where do we find if the player has an option season left?

Aug 23, 2011 08:43 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jeff Euston
BP staff

If you mouse over any name on a team's compensation list for a specific year, you'll get a tooltip with a summary of the player's contract details, including any option information. You also simply can go to individual player cards and check the compensation section.

Aug 23, 2011 09:02 AM
 
ScottyB

2 words: Awe Some!!!!

Aug 23, 2011 08:57 AM
rating: 1
 
bleaklewis

This is great! An awesome addition to BP.

Aug 23, 2011 09:39 AM
rating: 1
 
jkeri
(12)

This is tremendous, congrats Jeff! I use Cot's for just about every baseball article, blog post or email I ever write. Thanks for being an invaluable resource for all these years.

Aug 23, 2011 10:26 AM
rating: 4
 
kcboomer

This is just a tremendous addition to BP's product offerings. Kudos, Jeff!!

Aug 23, 2011 10:39 AM
rating: 1
 
John Carter

I am sorry I don't have a Mac, yet - just an HP PC with a legitimate version of Windows 7. The Post Reply doesn't work, the rating votes don't work, and the mouse bubble isn't working when I hover over a player's name on a team's year's page (e.g.: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/index.php?team=DET&cyear=2011). All that happens when I hover my mouse over a player is that the entire line gets highlighted. (Hovering over a BP term in any article does provide a definition.) I am still looking for option info even when I click on a player's page. I've looked at Sam Fuld, Jake McGee, and Ryan Perry just as examples. Perhaps, I'm looking in the wrong place or at the wrong players?

Aug 23, 2011 10:43 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Jeff Euston
BP staff

Ah, I misunderstood. The database does not include information on optional assignments (though random option details might turn up for a few players).

I generally go to MLB.com > Players > Transactions whenever I'm trying to chase down dates of optional assignments. There's really not a good resource for comprehensive information on each player's three or four option seasons.

As for the rating votes, tooltips or mouse bubbles, they should appear once the page has fully loaded, regardless of your choice in browsers or computers.

Aug 23, 2011 11:19 AM
 
Sacramento

FYI, Post Reply and the +/- don't work for me either using Internet Explorer on Vista, but they works fine using Firefox.

Aug 23, 2011 20:35 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

there's an IE specific problem with that functionality--sorry about that.

Aug 24, 2011 09:35 AM
 
Lloyd Cole

Amazingly good. I too have used Cot's frequently, for a long time. This will be great to have. Thanks.

Aug 23, 2011 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

"As for the rating votes, tooltips or mouse bubbles, they should appear once the page has fully loaded, regardless of your choice in browsers or computers."

Nope. Not my computer. Never.

Aug 23, 2011 11:38 AM
rating: -2
 
Pat Folz

What browser are you using? I get the contract details pop-ups on all of my browsers: Firefox 3.6, Opera 11.50, IE 9.0, Chrome 13.0. (And I can reply, obviously, and give karma) Perhaps you have javascript disabled or something?

Aug 23, 2011 22:55 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Hey, the mouse hovering data and the Post Reply works on my version of Chrome, thanks!

Aug 24, 2011 19:20 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

thanks for the reports. We do have specific problems with some of the comment functionality (plus/minus, post reply) in some versions of IE, but everything on the compensation page should work for virtually any recent browser--please give us a holler if not.

Aug 24, 2011 19:53 PM
 
John Carter

OK, so you are aware that still none of those things work on IE8 version 8.0.7600.16385

Aug 25, 2011 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

thanks for the version info! It's a general incompatibility between the library we're using for that functionality and many flavors of IE, I believe.

Aug 26, 2011 09:40 AM
 
John Douglass

Jeff, great stuff. I have two requests. On some of the players there is a "FA20XX" to the far right indicating their free agency year. I'd love to see this for everyone, with a dedicated column for next FA elig date, so at a glance I could look at a team and see who is expiring when. Second request, a link to this at the top of the BP home page with PS Odds, etc. Something like this, that I know I'll use frequently, I don't want to have to hunt for.

Aug 23, 2011 11:52 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jeff Euston
BP staff

Those are good suggestions. I'll run them by the technology experts.

Aug 23, 2011 17:14 PM
 
Doug Thorburn


As Mr. Burns would say... Excellent!



(immediately adds to Favorites)


Aug 23, 2011 12:02 PM
rating: 0
 
mrenick

this is excellent. thanks

Aug 23, 2011 15:07 PM
rating: 0
 
RaysProf

Under what heading will we find this page? Statistics?

Aug 24, 2011 09:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

We're not sure where we're going to put it yet, but you can use the green bar below the login line for the short term. Thanks!

Aug 24, 2011 09:35 AM
 
wonkothesane1

Haha. Michael Cuddyer shows up if I filter by relief pitchers.

Aug 24, 2011 13:29 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

that's very strange. let me see why.

Aug 24, 2011 19:53 PM
 
Eric M. Van

Blue text on a light blue background? I can't be the only one suffering eyestrain from that. Is black text unhip or something?

Otherwise, awesome.

Aug 26, 2011 06:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

You're the first we've heard from--anyone else having a problem with the colors? Thanks!

Aug 26, 2011 09:40 AM
 
John Carter

It's readable, but I agree it could be more easily readable.

Aug 26, 2011 21:07 PM
rating: -1
 
edanddom

Great job BP, and thanks Jeff. This information summary is excellent, if not somewhat maddening, for helping me think about the megatrends in baseball management. It seems that the cost of doing business to gain those ever-so-slight advantages on a pitch-by-pitch and matchup basis is higher than I would have expected, with the cost vs efficiency of a reliever. It also seems that any league realignment where the DH is kept is actually more efficient than keeping the extra spot for a reliever, which is counter to what I had expected. Segmenting further into "closer", "ex-closer" and "non-closer", for instance, or somehow into PH vs UT vs everyday regulars could be telling. I could be misinterpreting but it is certainly thought provoking. Kudos!

Sep 01, 2011 01:28 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

thanks so much for the kind words!

Sep 06, 2011 17:43 PM
 
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