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How Many A-Rods? Purchase Price of Washington Post vs. MLB Contracts

Let’s start with a disclaimer: this is totally unfair, an apples-to-oranges comparison, and a simplistic one at that.  Still, yesterday’s two blockbuster news stories — Major League Baseball’s long-expected suspension of Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the highest-paid player in baseball history, and Jeff Bezos’s complete-surprise purchase of The Washington Post got us curious as to how the relevant numbers stack up.

So, how many A-Rods will it cost Jeff Bezos to buy the Post? The Washington Post costs 0.91 A-Rods, based on the reported $250 million purchase price for the Post and the ballplayer’s current $275 million contract signed for 2008-17. (Or 0.99 A-Rods, using his 2001 contract as the yardstick. The 2008 contract superseded some of those payments.) What about Prince Fielder, the Tigers’ first baseman, who has a $214 million contract for 2012-20? The Post costs 1.17 Prince Fielders, or a whopping 1.32 Derek Jeters. The figures for the top ten baseball contracts follow. All salary figures are from Baseball Prospectus.

Purchase price of the Washington Post, in terms of MLB contracts

1.00 Washington Posts =

0.91 A-Rods ’08 ($275 million; 2008-17)

0.99 A-Rods ’01 ($252 million; 2001-10)

1.04 Albert Pujols ($240 million; 2012-21)

1.11 Joey Vottos ($225 million; 2014-23)

1.17 Prince Fielders ($214 million; 2012-20)

1.32 Derek Jeters ($189 million; 2001-10)

1.36 Joe Mauers ($184 million; 2011-18)

1.39 Mark Teixeiras ($180 million; 2009-16)

1.39 Justin Verlanders ($180 million; 2013-19)

1.43 Felix Hernandezes ($175 million; 2013-19)

As we said, this really isn’t fair. Comparing the purchase price of the Washington Post, without considering its cash flow, assets, debts and various contractual commitments, and the price of securing the services of a baseball player for a limited period of time doesn’t really make sense.

Then again, maybe this isn’t such a stretch. Billionaires can do many things with their extra money, including buying sports franchises and major newspapers. Some do both. A few of those with the money to spend for such things might be comparing these apples to those oranges.