All the Money in the World
Roger Clemens has made some $120 million in MLB salary alone over the course of his career, which is plenty much to spend, but apparently not enough to turn down another $9-12 million to take a late summer swing.
Yeah, I know. You’d take it, too. No blame.
Of course, the question with the Rocket isn’t whether you or I would take the dough to pitch in the big leagues for a few months– most of us would carry his bags for free. But rather, if you ran the roster, would bucking up so much for Clemens really be prudent? Is he still worth it– for half a season, no less?
First– some perspective. The highest-paid pitchers in baseball are the Yankees Mike Mussina ($19 MM), Houston’s Andy Pettitte ($16.43 MM), and the Yankees’ Randy Johnson ($15.66 MM). Even at the rumored low-end, Clemens’ extrapolated salary ($18-24 MM) figures to rival them all.
More importantly, Clemens’ take far outpaces the value of baseball’s top pitching performers this season. In dollar terms, PROTRADE’s Moneyball Player Valuation System ranks Tom Glavine of the Mets ($16.74 MM), Mussina ($15.48 MM), Toronto’s Roy Halladay ($14.18 MM), Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir ($13.93 MM) and Chicago’s Jose Contreras ($13.48 MM) as the top contributing pitchers in the majors.
The most valuable player in baseball this season has been St. Louis’ Albert Pujols ($32.68 MM). In fact, the performances of only Pujols and Colorado’s surging Brad Hawpe ($25.81 MM) have been better than the top of Clemens’ proposed salary range.
So does this mean the 43 year-old pitcher wouldn’t be worth the dough? Not exactly.
Consider that Clemens is reportedly expected to take the mound for the first time again in early July. Over the second half of the regular season, he’ll get 15 or so starts over about 75 games for the Astros, Rangers, Yankees, or Red Sox– whomever happens to woo his favor.
Last year, Clemens averaged 1.63 Moneyball Runs per game over his first 15 appearances, equal to $15.10 million in Moneyball Salary if he kept up the pace. Even at the low end, he’d be overpaid.
But the Rocket isn’t coming to play in the dog days of summer. He’s eyeing crunch time, when everyone wants Clemens on the mound and when, he has traditionally played his best.
To be sure, last season he averaged 1.95 Moneyball Runs from starts 16-21, which would correspond with the postseason this time around. That’s equal to $17.54 million in Moneyball Salary, which means the buyer is still overpaying but they’re getting closer.
And that’s the real point, isn’t it?
In measuring what a player should earn based on his performance, we’re taking a mechanical view of worth. This is hugely valuable if you’re evaluating 99% of MLB players in long-term team situations. But in this case of Roger Clemens, a future Hall-of-Famer who can lift a contender over the hump here-and-now, his presence is… well… priceless.
What would Houston or Texas pay to win their first-ever World Championship? Pick a number, any number. That’s what Roger Clemens is really worth, even if he only comes around again for a autumn bow.
And I know he’s worth nothing to me as his place on a Red Sox roster would just taint our second World Championship in 88 years…