We talk a lot about contracts in sports these days. Just listen to one of the sports radio stations for 10 minutes and all you’ll hear is people arguing over whether the Red Sox should give David Ortiz an extension or re-sign Stephen Drew.
Regardless of who the player is, the core argument is always whether a player is worth the money they’re being paid. Once a player signs a contract, their salary inevitably becomes as big a part of their public perception as their onfield production.
For guys who have huge contracts — and especially the guys who don’t live up to them — it’s often as if people stop looking at them as a person or as an athlete, but instead as a walking dollar sign.
Take someone like Carl Crawford, who had about as disastrous a tenure with the Red Sox as anybody in recent memory. He signed a seven-year, $142 million contract before the 2011 season, becoming the first player in Red Sox history to earn more than $20 million per season.
The Crawford signing obviously would have been looked at as a disappointment no matter how much (or little) he was making, but if his deal were more in line with someone like Shane Victorino, would people have hated him as much for it? I doubt it.
Maybe a better example would be Adrian Gonzalez, the other prized acquisition made by the Red Sox before the 2011 season. Gonzalez’s deal was even bigger than Crawford’s at seven years and $154 million, but unlike Crawford, Gonzalez actually produced for Boston. Just not as much as many fans would have liked.
Fans looked at both of those guys as huge albatrosses, and when the Los Angeles Dodgers picked them and Josh Beckett up midway through the 2012 season, the general consensus among fans was that the Red Sox lucked out big time by getting out from under those awful and burdensome deals.