Jedd Gyorko and the St. Louis Cardinals recently completed a road trip to PETCO Park, splitting a four game series. It was Jedd Gyorko’s return to San Diego since being abandoned in exchange for one year of an expensive, below-average player.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jedd was booed in his return to PETCO. On Twitter, the justification was that Gyorko was either “unproductive” or “fat” or “lazy”, or some combination of the above.
His 94 OPS+ in 2015 was actually above league average at second base, between guys like DJ LeMahieu, Danny Espinosa, and Kolten Wong, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not here to argue his numbers as I’ve done that several times. I’m here to argue the booing…
With respect to Gyorko being “overpaid” for his production in San Diego, apparently fans have forgotten the actual facts of what the Padres actually paid Jedd when he was here and what his expectations were. That’s because he was pretty much set up for short term failure.
The entire concept of Jedd Gyorko’s contract was (more or less) guaranteeing that the Padres overpay in the short term in order to give themselves an opportunity at significantly underpaying in the future. The Padres commit to a fixed sum and can expand their functional payroll if he exceeds that fixed sum in value on the field. Jedd receives financial security at the expense of capping his early career earnings. That’s how early career extensions work.
The thing is, the Padres only paid Gyorko $2.51 million of his extension: a tick about $0.5M in 2014 and exactly $2 million in 2015. If Jedd had never signed the extension at all, the Padres would have paid him $0.5M in each year anyway, so the actual amount the Padres paid Gyorko in the extension was actually only $2 million…or $1 million per year if you’re someone who likes to go by averages.
To put this in perspective: the Padres are paying Matt Thornton and Carlos Villanueva more money in 2016 than that. Both those guys have either sucked or haven’t even played. Alexi Amarista has earned more over the Gyorko extension than Gyorko. And James Shields has already earned more than $2.5 million in 2016 alone.
In the most contradictory irony of the season, fans are booing Gyorko for making $2 million more than he would have had Gyorko not signed the type of extension that those same fans boo Adrian Gonzalez for NOT signing a second time. A second time because Padres fans have apparently forgotten that Adrian actually signed a super team-friendly $15 million, five year extension with the Padres before being traded ahead of his second extension.
Sure, maybe the Jedd extension “caused” the Padres to pick up Jay’s expensive final arbitration year (by throwing in money) but in terms of what the Padres actually paid Gyorko and what production they actually get back, Jon Jay is the one who should be booed.
Some fans lamented, directly, that after receiving the extension, Gyorko got fat and lazy. Perhaps the career trajectory of Tony Gwynn’s body eludes their memory, but I don’t recall Padres fans booing that lazy fuck. In fact, he has a statue inside the stadium immortalizing his round stature forever. (Rightfully so!) Others, like David “Boomer” Wells or Fernando Valenzuela, didn’t receive the same criticism during tenures in San Diego. And, by the way, Gyorko is more muscle than fat, if he’s even fat at all.
Yes, it appears that the Padres may have overpaid Gyorko if he stayed a Padre through the end of the extension. But the Padres didn’t actually pay him and, truthfully, no one reading this article knows if the gamble will pay off for either party. Jedd is still a young middle infielder with raw power, just like he was in 2014 when he signed his extension. His numbers are interchangeable with Wil Myers, whom we gush about. (Rightfully so!)
So what are fans booing about? I like to think it’s their own intelligence, or lack thereof.
By the way, let me close by giving credit where it is due to Mark Grant for giving Padres fans a hard time for booing Gyorko on the broadcast. There are plenty of reasons to boo, but Jedd isn’t one of them.