The Worst Contract In Professional Sports belongs to…

You ever have that moment when years pass, but you know exactly what you were doing the second that a particular news event broke? Now for some; probably most, we have that one traumatic event in common. I am NOT comparing this particular event to that, but the phenomena itself is quite interesting. I was sitting in my car listening to MLB radio and boom; “Breaking: Ozzie Albies signs a 7 Year $35 Million Dollar deal with the braves”. I thought I may have heard that wrong but nope, the push notifications start coming across my phone and the signing proves to be very real. This was in April of 2019, Albies had just came off of an MLB All-Star game, batting a .281 average with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs in his first full season in the big leagues. Albies was proving to be one of the bright young stars in Major League Baseball and forcing his way into conversation for one of the best 2nd basemen, all at the age of 21 years old. But, 7 years $35 million dollars? regardless of how you look at that number that is life changing money; for a young franchise player, playing an incredibly talent-shallow position, that my friend is what we call a massive club discount.

Ozzie Albies was born in Willemstad, Curaco (population 150k), to parents Osagarry & Juadri Albies. Ozzie’s father passed away to a heart attack in 2013. Willemstad is a poverty stricken island in the Caribbean, in a 2011 census more than 25% of households in the country lived below the poverty line. In some areas, more than 50 percent of families were living below the poverty line. Albies began playing baseball at the age of 6 years old, in 2013 the same year of his fathers passing, he began switch hitting (there could be no correlation there, but switch hitting is a juicy hit-tool scouts love to see.). Ozzie was signed by the braves as an international free agent on July 2nd 2013 for $350k at the age of 16; life changing money, especially when the income per capita in Willemstad, Curacao is a mere $19,414.

Ozzie made his professional debut for the Gulf Coast Braves in July 2014, batting .364/.446/.444 in 57 games. The following year he was selected to the MLB All Star Futures Game as the only braves prospect and the youngest player to appear that year. Ozzie would go on to explode in the minors, averaging .304 .365 .424 across four seasons within the Braves organization. On August 1st, 2017, Albies was called up to the big leagues making his professional debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers & crushing a home run as his first major league hit. Ozzie’s tenure in the big leagues was short that year only playing 57 games for the Braves in 2017, but it would be the following 2018 season that Albies would solidify himself as an All-Star 2nd basemen.

After being named the everyday 2nd basemen for the Atlanta Braves, Ozzie crushed it during the 2018 season; amassing 105 Runs, 24 Homeruns, 72 RBI’s, and a .261 Average while playing 158 games. He was named an MLB All-Star via the player vote in his first full season in the Major Leagues. This guy was no longer that international prospect figuring it out in the bigs — he was the star player Braves fans coveted for. Ozzie’s salary during the 2018 season was $555,000, ranking him 6th overall amongst MLB 2nd basemen in contractual value; surely he was due for a raise via arbitration right? Little did we know the Atlanta Braves & Albies’ agency SportsMeter had different plans during the upcoming off-season.

This brings us to April, 11th 2019 — The news of Ozzie’s contract has taken the baseball world by surprise; why would he sign this? Surely this is a mistake? I even wondered if the Braves just paid him equity? I cannot understand why Ozzie would agree to a 7-Year $35 Million Dollar contract when baseball front offices are notoriously generous when it comes to money, especially for a young sensation like Albies.

To add a bit of perspective, let’s break down Ozzie’s contact and where it lands in relation to his overall value on the diamond; how this compares to active contracts signed by second basemen. Here are the facts:

  • Ozzie Albies contract details include: 7 years at $5 Million dollars AAV (Average Annual Value), which ranks 11th amongst active 2nd basemen in the MLB.
  • Between the 2017–2021 MLB seasons, Albies ranks 5th overall amongst 2nd basemen in WAR ( Wins Above Replacement). Those 4 players are:

-Jose Altuve: $23,357,143 AAV

-Javier Baez: $11,650,000 AAV (True shortstop)

-Whit Merrifield: $4,062,500 AAV

-DJ LeMahieu: $15,000,00 AAV

  • Out of 31 total starting 2nd basemen, Albies is the youngest on that list at 24 years old.
  • As far as club impact goes; Ozzie’s contract ranks 17th in total salary cap hit amongst 31 2nd basemen. (Although there is no true salary cap in baseball.)
  • The Atlanta Braves also rank 13th overall in positional spending on their entire infield (6 players on payroll) coming into 2021 — The only teams ahead of them on that list to make the 2020 MLB Postseason were; Dodgers (WS Winner), Astro’s (ALCS loser), and Padres (Wild Card Loser), the Braves were 1 game away from the world series — losing in game 7 of the NLCS to the Dodgers. Massive value for the Braves.

So pretty bad, right? After doing a little research I thought “Uhh, maybe his agent just stinks?” Ozzie’s agent is David Meter of SportsMeter Agency — his other MLB clients include Craig Kimbrel, Nick Castellanos, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Kluber. Kimbrel signed a 3/$43 Million dollar contract with the Cubs in 2019, Nick Castellanos a 4/$64 Milllion dollar contract with the Reds in 2020, and Francisco Lindor a 1/$22.3 Million Dollar contract with the Mets in 2020; but will likely garner a massive extension in the near future. Ozzie is only worth a mere 7/$35?

I mentioned earlier the the concept of ‘life changing money’, it can get lost in translation that Ozzie’s contract isn’t a lot of money but I cant reiterate enough it is a huge paycheck — to us working a 9–5 at least. My issue with Ozzie’s contract is his statistical value outweighs his contractual value tenfold; especially when you consider that historically baseball just throws money at star players. Ozzie comes from a poor country, worked hard and undoubtedly earned every cent of that contract, I just think he was & is worth so much more. Maybe he worked with the team on a club friendly contract to allow them to land some high profile free agents in the future; maybe money isn’t everything to him. Regardless I’m sure this is more than enough for him to live comfortably, I just hope the braves value their young All-Star 2nd basemen enough to restructure his god awful contract.

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