The Dodgers lured Andrew Friedman away from the Rays by making him the highest-paid front office executive in baseball, with a $35 million contract over five years to be the Dodgers president of baseball operations, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
The number certainly has shock value, but given the relative value of wins is certainly understandable. The only question is whether the Dodgers set a new trend in executive salaries or simply flexed its financial muscle to loudly proclaim Los Angeles as an ideal place to work.
Billy Beane has a contract through 2019 with an unknown salary but includes an ownership stake in the Athletics. Theo Epstein signed a five-year, $18 million deal to join the Cubs - per Cot's Contracts - in a similar capacity to Friedman, as president of baseball ops with a general manager working under him. Brian Cashman's previous contract with the Yankees paid him $3 million per season, and he just signed a three-year extension in October.
Friedman's contract blows those away, at $7 million per season. Plus incentives, per Olney.
If there were any questions about the power structure within the Dodgers baseball operations department, $7 million per year leaves little doubt at who will be calling the shots. Maybe that makes it more difficult for the Dodgers to bring aboard a general manager, a title in name only with duties likely similar to that of an assistant GM, maybe slightly more.
Then again, the Dodgers will likely well compensate for that position.
Friedman famously worked without a contract in Tampa Bay, which is why the Dodgers were able to lure him away without compensation to the Rays, though they did receive permission.
During Ned Colletti's tenure as general manager, the Dodgers signed or acquired 17 players with contracts of at least $35 million (including Josh Beckett, who barely squeaked in at $34.9 million). Using Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement, here is how they panned out:
|$35m contracts under Ned Colletti|
|Rafael Furcal||12/19/05||$39 million||8.1||$4.8m|
|Juan Pierre||11/22/06||$36 million||2.0||$18.0m|
|Andruw Jones||12/6/07||$36.2 million||(1.6)|
|Hiroki Kuroda||12/16/07||$35.3 million||6.7||$5.3m|
|Manny Ramirez||3/4/09||$34.3 million||2.8||$12.3m|
|Ted Lilly||10/19/10||$33 million||(0.5)|
|Chad Billingsley||3/29/11||$35 million||1.8||$19.4m|
|Matt Kemp||11/17/11||$55 million||4.0||$13.8m|
|Andre Ethier||6/12/12||$29 million||3.0||$9.7m|
|Yasiel Puig||6/29/12||$18 million||10.4||$1.7m|
|Hanley Ramirez||7/25/12||$37.3 million||9.7||$3.8m|
|Adrian Gonzalez||8/25/12||$46.6 million||8.8||$5.3m|
|Carl Crawford||8/25/12||$44.6 million||4.0||$11.2m|
|Josh Beckett||8/25/12||$34.9 million||0.4||$87.3m|
|Zack Greinke||12/8/12||$53 million||8.2||$6.5m|
|Hyun-jin Ryu||12/9/12||$36.7 million^||5.2||$7.1m|
|*Paid through 2014 (including signing bonuses)
^includes posting fee to Hanwha
That's an average of $9 million per win in all large contracts either signed or acquired under Colletti in nine seasons, with nearly half (eight of 17) producing three or fewer WAR to date. If Friedman can make the Dodgers four wins better over the next five years than they would have been under Colletti, that contract will have been par for the course. If Friedman does better, which is the expectation of course, that $35 million will be a bargain.