Baseball BeatFebruary 05, 2005
Put a Tank in Your Tigers?
By Rich Lederer

In the 1960s, Exxon (between its Esso and ExxonMobil days) launched one of the most successful advertising campaigns of the decade with the catch phrase, "Put a tiger in your tank". Well, with today's news that Detroit signed Magglio Ordonez, I might say, "Put a tank in your Tigers."

The Tigers and Ordonez have apparently agreed to a five-year contract for $75 million in a deal that could be worth up to $105 million over seven seasons. However, "Detroit would have the right to void the contract after the 2005 season if Ordonez has a reoccurrence of the left knee injury that hampered his production with the Chicago White Sox for most of last year and the reoccurrence lands him on the disabled list for 25 days or more."

According to the article, Magglio is guaranteed a $6 million signing bonus and a $6 million salary in 2005. As a result, the Tigers' exposure is said to be $12 million. But, oh my, it is much more than that. Detroit's minimum exposure is $12 million. However, the organization can't just cut him loose if they are unhappy with his play or if he suffers another injury. In fact, Mags could land on the DL with the exact same knee problem for up to 24 days and the Tigers would have no recourse (other than being forced to pay Ordonez another $63 million for the following four years).

When healthy, Ordonez is a very good player. But is he really worth $75 million over the next five seasons when he will range in age from 31 to 35 years old? Given his status, I don't see how he could command much more than a one-year Nomar Garciaparra-type contract ($8 million with performance bonuses that could add another $3 million).

This deal feels a lot more like Carlos Beltran than Nomar Garciaparra. Granted, there is an escape clause in the contract but it is limited to a specific injury and for a specific time period. I mean, aren't the Tigers showing a lot of faith in Ordonez just by guaranteeing the 31-year-old corner outfielder $12 million this season? Didn't Magglio undergo two operations last year? Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe he has played in a single game since he went on the disabled list on July 22 with bone marrow edema.

I may not be a medical doctor, but I'm also not a fool. Call me dumbfounded. Again.

Comments

I think it's even more telling that Carlos Delgado got "only" $12 million a year, but Scott Boras pulled on of his tricks again and got his client premium money. JD Drew got $11 million a year for being healthy all year and playing at his best overall numbers. Magglio? $15 million a year on average for being hurt and getting an injury that most players don't get, thus there is no known timetable for whether he'll be healthy or not.