Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2017


The current labor market in MLB is extremely lucrative for both players and owners; however, the system is not without its problems. Over the past two decades, owners have become increasingly aggressive when signing elite players. Owners must offer long-term contracts in excess of $100 million to outbid other teams and secure an elite player to be the face of their franchise. Because MLB contracts are guaranteed, owners take a tremendous risk when signing players to a long-term deal. The purpose of the study was to apply a framework for what a “successful” MLB contract is and then measure all long-term (5+ years) contracts in MLB from 2001 to 2010, in order to provide objective data on the success rate of those long-term contracts. For this study, dollar per Wins Above Replacement ($/WAR) was the objective measurement used to framework success. Additionally, this study sought to reveal characteristics that could assist MLB team executives with deciding which players to give long-term contracts to. The results showed that only 29.7% of long-term contracts were successful. Player’s age, MLB experience, fielding position, and signing with his current team all had statistically significant relationships with contract success. The study implied that teams should give long-term contracts to players between the ages of 21 and 24, have between one and three years of MLB experience, and that teams should sign players already on their team.


MLB, contract, long-term, success

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Todd Seidler, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Dr. John Barnes, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Dr. Evan Frederick, Ph.D.

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. R. Douglas Manning, Ph.D.