#1: Ichiro Suzuki: 2001-2007: 7yrs/$71.125 million, 41.1 WAR, $78.86m Surplus, $11.27 surplus per season
I combined the first two contracts Ichiro signed, as well as added in the negotiation fee. I did it on the bad contracts for Kikuchi, so I’m doing it here as well. The player may not make the money, but the team pays it in order to get them, so I’m including it for consistency’s sake.
There’s something else important here. Cost per win really started to increase during Ichiro’s second contract. If you want to go by the actual value per year, his surplus goes all the way up to $97.91m, which is $13.99m per season.
It goes to show you how it changes over the years, especially as more money comes into baseball. From 06 to 07, the $/WAR jumped from $4.545m to $6.284m. With the higher $/War, it’s why Ichiro’s contract was still a minor win for the Mariners from 2008-2012 when he was traded to the Yankees. Despite having a 15.9 WAR in 4.5 seasons with the team, he still was worth about $6 million more than they paid him.
Throughout Ichiro’s negotiating history with the team, he took less each time than you would think he was worth. Part of that was getting extra incentives (housing, car, travel) as well as deferred payments with interest attached. It’s why they are actually paying him till at least 2032.
Ichiro may not have been the highest surplus per season while he was with the team, but a big part of that is the ERA that he played in. Yes, the Mariners would have had to pay him more if he came around a decade later, but the value per win increased by a ton, and I think the surplus he brought to the table would’ve been insanely high.
It’s why I listed him as the best contract in Mariners history. Not to mention the culture, attention, and leadership that he brought to the team, as well as the occasional comedy gold. I don’t like putting links to paywalls, so if you don’t have access to the Atheltic, take the time to search out some of his gems, like this one. It’s always been my favorite…
"“One morning in spring training, 2017, he was in the coaches’ room looking at his cell phone text messages. Ichiro told the coaches about one message he had just received from a number he didn’t recognize. The guy said he’d gotten Ichiro’s number from Alex Rodriguez, and that he wanted to come meet him and study his stretching system. “What’s the guy’s name?” asked one of the coaches. Ichiro strolled to the end of the text. “Some guy named Tom Brady. Who the f- is Tom Brady?”"
What do you think? Was there someone else that should have been included on the list? Do you think I whiffed bigtime somewhere? Let me know, and until then, enjoy your time thinking about these Mariners who were such a big help to the organization, and made it more fun as a fan!