By Joe F
In the days of multi-million dollar contracts for old regressing players there are actually a few players who are elite that are getting paid much less than they are worth. Usually these players are younger due to not being able to test the free agent market, or they’re extremely underrated. You won’t see an Alex Rodriguez contract or Albert Pujols contract on here. Most likely if Scott Boras is your agent you’re not making this list.
5. Brett Gardner – 2011 salary $529,500
When you think best contracts you don’t think a Yankee would make that list. Yet Brett Gardner just cracks it at number 5. Believe it or not Gardner has been one of the leagues top outfielders since 2010. He has a 11.2 WAR in the last two seasons combined. Putting him on the verge of calling him a level of greatness on the sabermetric scale. I’d say he’s a way above average good player. He brings speed on the base paths, amazing gold glove caliber defense, and can get on base for the bottom of the order. If Derek Jeter wasn’t on the Yankees I’m sure Gardner would be batting lead off.
4. David Price – 2011 salary $2,084,671
Price is coming into the final year of his contract and will make $1.5 million in 2012. This could possibly be the final year that he’ll have great value for his production, but he’s been a top contract for the Rays since he’s been in the majors. He’s one of the best left handed pitchers in baseball and is Tampa’s future ace. What makes him second is because he’ll probably be getting anywhere from $11-18 million a year with the team next season. He’s should reach his peak in his next contract.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury – 2011 salary $2,400,000
Ellsbury emerged as one of the best players in 2011. He led all of baseball with a 9.4 WAR. That’s an elite level WAR worthy of an MVP award possibly. His fielding was always excellent, but rose to a different level in 2011. His UZR sky rocketed from his last full season of play in 2009. It was a -9.7 to a 15.6. Ellsbury also raised his power numbers having a .230 ISO for 32 home runs. That sort of power is odd for a lead off hitter, but it works for the Red Sox.
2. Justin Upton – 2011 salary $4,458,333
Another young star that has a decent contract. Upton is on the brink of becoming a higher paid player but $4 million last year and 6$ million the next isn’t that bad for an elite player. Upton led the Diamondbacks to the playoffs in 2011. He could make a case for NL MVP. He combines great power with some speed and defense. He will be a Diamondback until 2015.
1. Evan Longoria – 2011 salary $2,500,000
Longoria finally made a million dollars last season. He actually made 2 million. In 2009 Longoria was paid 550K, what a deal for the Rays. They’re one of the smartest organizations out there when it comes to paying guys. They actually found a way to keep Longoria around until 2015 and by then they’ll be paying him $11 million. That’s if they decide to keep his club option. I say they will most likely. Longoria is the best 3rd basemen in baseball when he’s not hurt. He’s only 26 years old and is likely just hitting his prime. He hit 31 home runs and had a 6.1 WAR in an “off year.” He’s the best player on this list and having such a good value for his contract that gets him the number one slot.