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Long-Term Contracts in Major League Baseball


  • Jahn K. Hakes

    () (Department of Economics & Management, Albion College)

  • Chad Turner

    () (Department of Finance & Economics, Nicholls State University)


Long-term deals are one tool that both players and franchises use to manage risk. That tool has been much discussed and empirically tested with respect to player shirking, and has more briefly, and only theoretically, discussed with respect to reducing variance in future payrolls. Our work looks at how patterns of use of long-term contracts are affected by changes in contracting rules established through collective bargaining and by expected changes in franchise revenue streams. To accomplish this, we have assembled the most complete dataset of MLB player contracts to date. We analyze changes in contract length and dollar value across players of different ability levels, at different points in their careers (contract status), by position, across CBA agreements, and further examine if new stadiums and new television deals impact contract terms. We confirm the earlier finding that player performance is systematically higher during contract years than during the early portion of a long-term contract. We also find that inclusion of contract length information significantly reduces the unexplained variation in player salaries.

Suggested Citation

  • Jahn K. Hakes & Chad Turner, 2008. "Long-Term Contracts in Major League Baseball," Working Papers 0831, International Association of Sports Economists;North American Association of Sports Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:spe:wpaper:0831

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anthony C. Krautmann & Margaret Oppenheimer, 2002. "Contract Length and the Return to Performance in Major League Baseball," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(1), pages 6-17, February.
    2. Scully, Gerald W, 1974. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 915-930, December.
    3. Kahn, Lawrence M, 1993. "Free Agency, Long-Term Contracts and Compensation in Major League Baseball: Estimates from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 157-164, February.
    4. Joel Maxcy, 2004. "Motivating long-term employment contracts: risk management in major league baseball," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 109-120.
    5. Daniel R. Marburger, 2003. "Does the Assignment of Property Rights Encourage or Discourage Shirking?," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 4(1), pages 19-34, February.
    6. Lehn, Kenneth, 1982. "Property Rights, Risk Sharing, and Player Disability in Major League Baseball," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 343-366, October.
    7. Paul M. Sommers & Noel Quinton, 1982. "Pay and Performance in Major League Baseball: The Case of the First Family of Free Agents," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 426-436.
    8. Jahn Hakes & Chad Turner, 2011. "Pay, productivity and aging in Major League Baseball," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 61-74, February.
    9. Christopher M. Clapp & Jahn K. Hakes, 2005. "How Long a Honeymoon? The Effect of New Stadiums on Attendance in Major League Baseball," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 6(3), pages 237-263, August.
    10. Joel G. Maxcy & Rodney D. Fort & Anthony C. Krautmann, 2002. "The Effectiveness of Incentive Mechanisms in Major League Baseball," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(3), pages 246-255, August.
    11. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "The Sports Business as a Labor Market Laboratory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 75-94, Summer.
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    More about this item


    Major League Baseball (MLB); long-term contracts; player salaries and performance; collective bargaining agreements (CBA);

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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