Why the Dodgers Drastically Overpaid Brandon League

Brandon League October 2012Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti continues to add credence to the old saying that it’s easier to spend other people’s money.

Just months after acquiring more than $250 million in contracts from the Boston Red Sox, Colletti continued to be penny wise and pound foolish, signing serviceable backend reliever Brandon League to a three-year deal worth an absurd $22.5 million.

In terms of average annual amount, League’s agreement is nearly $3 million more than Brandon Lyon’s three-year deal with the  Houston Astros following the 2009 season, another highly criticized contract.

The problem with League — as with Lyons as well — is that he relies heavily on pitching to contact and average-ish command, which inevitably becomes a problem during those fluky BABIP years. Only once during his career has League struck out more than one strikeout per inning (2009). Otherwise, he’s averaged 6.17 K/9.

On the positive side, he’s been durable over the last four seasons, appearing in at least 65 games, but he’s starting to get close to that age — he turns 30 in March — when the innings begin to add up and could potentially impact his workload and/or production.

To showcase how overpaid he will likely be, assume League averages 1.0 win above replacement over the next three years, an extremely favorable estimation given the fact that he’s topped one win in a season only twice in his career. He would be worth about $15 million in production, nearly $8 million less than what he’s being paid for.

Typically, these types of deals are award to elite relievers, a category League falls well short of. And with Kenley Jansen — assuming he’s healthy after his recent heart surgery — and Ronald Belisario already in the fold, the Dodgers are essentially paying their third-best reliever more than $7 million for each of the next three years.

Like it? Share it!