pro athletes chasing the big bucks

2 04 2007

A big question in Major League Baseball is whether Andruw Jones will stay with the Braves or leave to get the big bucks after this year.  It’s already known that the Braves won’t offer him the largest contract because of their reduced payroll.  Jones says he wants to stay, that he likes it there and likes the people around him and wants to be one of the few players to stay on one team his whole career.

Since he’s only 29 and is one of the best all-time centerfielders, he might get offers over $150 million (over several years), and the Braves will probably offer tens of millions less.  He has said he wants to be paid at “market value”, and that’s understandable.  The difference of tens of millions of dollars is significant.  Although, I’d like to question that notion.  Of course that’s a lot of money, but if you’re already making over a hundred million, is it that big a deal in this scenario?  To most of the pro athletes, it’s a status symbol, and it makes them feel respected.  But when your team wants to keep you but doesn’t have enough money, it’s not fair to the team.  And beyond that, from a player’s perspective, wouldn’t it be better to play where you’re happy and you like the people on your team?

There’s been other players who chased the biggest contract and ended up playing on last place teams and then weren’t happy.  Perhaps most famous is Alex Rodriguez, who signed the largest contract ever, at $252 million over ten years with the Rangers.  But because the team paid him so much, they couldn’t afford much pitching, so they finished in last place every year he was there.  Then he jumped at the chance to get away from the Rangers so he could play with the Yankees, even though he had signed that ten year contract.

I imagine I look at it differently because I don’t have those options with my salary.  But I’m inclined to think I would still approach it with this same mindset, because money isn’t that important to me.  More important than making the big bucks is being where I’m supposed to be, according to God’s will.  But even if that wasn’t considered (because it won’t be by some athletes), there’s certain cities I’d rather live in, certain climates I prefer, and there’s the whole issue of uprooting your family and making them start over somewhere else.

So maybe I’m the exception to the norm.  But if I was in Andruw Jones’ position and I wanted to stay in Atlanta, I would stay there, even if it meant making “only” $120 million as opposed to $150 million.

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