Saturday, December 24, 2016

Highest Paid?

My mom texted me, asking who the highest paid players were in baseball, basketball, and football. As if I knew. She must've lost a bet or had an argument before Sunday School whether it was ARod, Matt Ryan, Tiger, or Kobe with the most money. Or Mom misplaced her Money issue of ESPN the Magazine. Think she was being purposely vague about why she needed this information. Nonetheless, here's my report:

The highest paid players in baseball, basketball, and football:

Baseball: $32.8 million: Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers pitcher - above).
Basketball: $25.6 million: James Harden (Houston Rockets) and Al Horford (Boston Celtics - above)

Football: $44.5 million: Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens QB)
Football: $44.1 million: Tom Brady (New England Patriots QB)

These players have the highest contracts for the current season. Other players may have long term contracts for more overall money. Some have money deferred, with payments spread out over a longer time period. Others have contracts with smaller salaries for several years, then a larger balloon payment at the big. Large signing bonuses paid up front are usually averaged out over the life of the contract when reporting a player's annual salary.

Who is the highest paid is more a function of who signed the most recent contract (Horford). The best player may have an older contract, or may be positioning themselves for a larger contract down the road. A few players accept less money so the team can sign other good players (Brady, Lebron James).

These amounts only represent the salaries the player receives from the team. They do not include outside revenue from endorsements and league marketing deals. Tom Brady's salary may be slightly lower than Joe Flacco's, but Brady probably makes much more in endorsements than Flacco. Harden makes more in endorsements than Horford.

So "highest paid" means different things, and changes based on how it is defined. Highest paid changes from year to year – even from month to month.

Contracts are complicated and constantly changing. For this and other reasons I rarely pay attention to such matters.

When a contract expires factors into the team's personnel decisions. Whether a player will stay with any one team is based not only on his ability but also his age, length of current contract, whether the team has his replacement lined up, how much the team is paying other players, and how much of a jerk the player's agent is.

For 2017 the Braves signed two aging pitchers to one-year contracts, knowing they have several young pitchers who could be ready in 2018. Many fair-weather fans ignorantly complain, not understanding the team's long term plan.

NOTE: Mom had seen a headline about a soccer player making $88 million - but unlike the numbers above, includes endorsements.

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