Mark Teixeira gave a thoroughly honest interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he admitted that he is overpaid and aging.
Teixeira signed an eight-year, $180 million contract with the New York Yankees prior to the 2009 season. He has four seasons left under the current deal, and he is scheduled to earn $22.5 million each year.
Though he was one of the most productive first baseman in baseball during his peak, Teixeira’s numbers have consistently dropped the past three seasons. He went from averaging a .942 OPS from 2005-2009 to an .829 OPS from 2010-2012.
Teixeira is turning 33 in April, and he acknowledges he’s on the downside of his career.
“I looked at the first six or seven years of my career, I was in my 20s, it was easy. I wasn’t searching for the right formula. To think that I’m going to get remarkably better, as I get older and breaking down a little bit more, it’s not going to happen,” Teixeira told the Journal’s Daniel Barbarisi.
“Maybe I’m slowing down a tick. Look, I’m not going to play forever. Eventually you start, I don’t want to say declining, but it gets harder and harder to put up 30 [homers] and 100 [RBI],” Teixeira said.
Teixeira went from being a .290-.300 hitter to posting three consecutive seasons around .250. Rather than attempting to get back to .290 which might be unrealistic, Tex says he is going to concentrate on trying to maximize his strengths: hitting home runs, walking, and playing good defense. The strategy seems sound, but it may lead detractors to say he is not living up to his salary. Teixeira would not disagree.
“I have no problem with anybody in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid. Because I am,” Teixeira said. “We all are.”
“Agents are probably going to hate me for saying it,” he told the Journal. “You’re not very valuable when you’re making $20 million. When you’re Mike Trout, making the minimum, you are crazy valuable. My first six years, before I was a free agent, I was very valuable. But there’s nothing you can do that can justify a $20 million contract.”
Players can still justify $20 million contracts, but it’s not easy. Baseball’s free agency system rewards players for what they have done in the past rather than what they will do in the future. That is why Teixeira signed for such a big contract even though the Yankees knew he would be in his 30s for most of it. Did they figure they would get a few more prime seasons out of him? No doubt, but they also knew he would be declining as the years went on.
Teixeira may not be worth the $22.5 million he makes, but he is still an above-average player. His plan to maximize his strengths rather than focus on his weaknesses sounds like one that can help him obtain more value and prove his usefulness to the Yankees.
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