In his column from this morning, SI.com's John Donovan examines the phenomenon of the nine-figure contract -- and why baseball execs continue to ink pitchers to these long-term pacts in spite of the overwhelming historical evidence against their chances of success.
With CC Sabathia on the verge of signing a $100 million-plus deal, Donovan singled out five numbers for potential suitors to consider.
• Twenty-two free-agent starting pitchers have signed a long-term deal (four or more years) since 2000. Only half of them have had winning records so far.
• Of the 79 seasons by those pitchers in that time, in only 31 has the pitcher had an ERA+ of 100 -- that's considered average -- or better. That means that about 61 percent of the time those pitchers have been below-average.
• Twenty-two times in those 79 seasons -- about 28 percent of the time -- the pitcher has made 15 or fewer starts. Eight entire seasons have been lost. A pitcher has made 10 or fewer starts 18 times.
• Of those 22 pitchers, only eight have averaged 30 starts over the seasons they've completed in their contracts. (Nine pitchers have yet to complete their contracts, and a 10th -- A.J. Burnett -- just opted out of his.)
• Eight of the 22 pitchers have appeared in a postseason game during their contracts. Four of them (Kevin Appier, [Mike] Mussina, Jason Schmidt and [Daisuke] Matsuzaka) have appeared in a World Series. And the only two to win a World Series ring are Matsuzaka, as a rookie with the Red Sox in 2007, and Appier -- after the team that signed him before the '01 season, the Mets, traded him to the Angels, who won the Series in '02.
What do you think? Is Sabathia worth his probable $100 million price tag? Should teams refuse to pay competitive prices for elite pitchers just because of the deals which didn't work out in the past?