It’s a rare thing when an athlete admits that he’s no longer living up to his contract. In fact, it’s so rare it hardly ever happens. That didn’t stop New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira from expressing such a sentiment in a recent interview that he did with Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal. Teixeira, who’ll turn 33 a week after Opening Day, acknowledged that he is overpaid based on where he is in his career. And he’s ok with it.
Prior to the 2009 season Teixeira signed an eight year, $180 Million deal to join the Yankees after splitting the first six seasons of his career between the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Angels. He was a career .290/.378/.541 hitter in that stretch, adding 203 home runs.
The Yankees got just what they were hoping for in 2009. Teixeira hit .292/.383/.565 while leading the American League in home runs (39) and RBI (122). He finished second in MVP voting on the year, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger, and participated in the All Star Game all while helping the Yankees to a World Series victory. Teixeira has seen his share of struggles and nagging injuries since. He’s averaged 32 HR and 101 RBI over the past three seasons. He still shows solid patience at the plate and is a solid defender. His overall batting line, however, has continued to diminish. Teixeira hit .252/.347/.484 over the past three years, including a .251/.332/.475 line this past season.
Teixeira has changed his approach at the plate and tried to tweak his mechanics over the past few offseasons, but hasn’t seen the results that he was initially hoping for. Now, however, he’s come to terms with being a different player than he was earlier in his career and it would appear that the Yankees organization is just fine with it. GM Brian Cashman and others within the organization’s front office are content with Teixeira’s production so long as he’s still hitting 30+ home runs and driving in 100+ runs. He might not be the .290 hitter they thought they were bringing in, but he’s still offering enough offensive production to keep the organization content. From Cashman:
Whatever he was working on before clearly didn’t work. So I think you should stay with your strengths, no doubt about it. You always want more, but it’s a pretty long sample now of three years in the .248 to .256 range, for three straight years. So I think that’s the new norm for him.
Teixeira is slated to earn $22.5 Million in each of the next four seasons. If he can maintain his stellar defensive play and continue to offer some patience and power at the plate, he’ll still have some value to the Yankees despite a batting average in the .250 neighborhood.