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Friday, September 28, 2012

Is Zito's Contract Really One of the Worst Ever?

It is not uncommon for sports writers to point to the signing of Barry Zito for $126 million for 7 years by the San Francisco Giants in 2007 as one of the worst contracts ever (see e.g., "15 Worst Contract in American Sports History"). While I don't believe that signing Zito was a good deal for the Giants, I do believe that it wasn't one of the worst contracts of all time. In fact, I don't think it was the worst contract of 2007. How so?

The same year the Giants signed Zito, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed former Giant Jason Schmidt to a three-year, $47 million contract. In his years with the Dodgers, Schmidt won only three games and lost six. That's a cost of $15.67 million per win for the Dodgers. By contrast, since 2007 Zito has won 57 games (and lost 69), which is a cost of $2.21 million per win for the Giants. Not a great deal, but its certainly a better deal than the Dodgers got. Moreover, Zito's still pitching (and winning -- he's currently 14-8 this year), while Jason Schmidt's completely out of baseball.

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