When The “Money” In Moneyball Goes Awry


A’s top performers this season are on the lower portion of the team’s payroll. The’re questionable performances by some of the A’s top paid players. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In business theory, employees, when compared to others in an organization, need to be compensated fairly for their contributions. Generally, the outcomes they experience match their inputs to the organization, thus their compensation. That theory couldn’t be further from the truth for the 2014 Oakland A’s.

There is something seriously wrong with the disparities of the Oakland Athletics 2014 payroll when compared with player performance and worth this season.

The player having the BEST SEASON so far, Josh Donaldson, happens to be THE LOWEST paid player at a mere $500,000 this year. On the contrary, (and this just makes me singe) Jim Johnson, with his 6.46 ERA, 2 blown saves, and 3 runners scored, ranks second on the earnings list with an unworthy $10 million. Yoenis Cespedes is slightly higher at $10.5 million – but Cespedes IS performing.

Compare that to Sean Doolittle’s cost-efficient $505,000 annual salary when he assumed Johnson’s failed closer role, and with success mind you with 8 saves, 5 holds, and a 2.48 ERA.

Other players with great contributions to the A’s first place status this year, Sonny Gray, Drew Pomeranz, Derek Norris, Tommy Milone, and Jesse Chavez are ALL AT THE BOTTOM of the list and in the $500,000 range.

Take for example the combined $15+ million salary of Johnson and Luke Gregorson, another disappointment pilfering $5,065,000 plus incentives for his league leading 5 blown saves, 1-1 record and 8 inherited runners scored. This figure is striking since that total IS MORE THAN 15 total-player salaries paid to the entire 25-man active roster.

While the bottom portion of the list is players with fewer than five years in the Majors, one would think that those experienced, and those overseeing the team, would compensate their performance and contribution to the team fairly.

2014 A’s Salary List

  1. Yoenis Cespedes      $10,500,000
  2. Jim Johnson           $10,000,000
  3. Scott Kazmir           $9,000,000
  4. Coco Crisp              $ 7,500,000
  5. Jed Lowrie              $5,250,000
  6. Luke Gregerson    $ 5,065,000
  7. Alberto Callaspo   $4,875,000
  8. Brandon Moss      $ 4,100,000
  9. Nick Punto            $2,750,000
  10. Josh Reddick        $2,700,000
  11. John Jaso             $2,300,000
  12. Craig Gentry      $1,145,000
  13. Jesse Chavez         $775,000
  14. F. Rodriguez        $600,000
  15. Fernando Abad   $525,900
  16. Tommy Milone   $510,000
  17. Eric Sogard          $510,000
  18. Derek Norris       $505,000
  19. Sean Doolittle     $505,000
  20. Drew Pomeranz  $505,000
  21. Dan Otero            $502,500
  22. Sonny Gray        $502,500
  23. Josh Donaldson   $500,000

Fortunately for the Athletics, no one on the lower end seems to be holding grudges, with daily performances continuing to thrive from past performers.

In team sports, higher pay can be used to lure better players from other teams, as the A’s did with Johnson this off-season, and therefore fans have expected performances. Fortunately for the A’s, as could happen in business when compensation animosities occur, the pay inequalities so far have not had any negative effect hindering cooperation among team members.