KC Royals: What Would George Brett Be Worth Today?


KC Royals fans watched with envy as the Red Sox inked David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract, and Zack Greinke signed a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks.

The Kansas City Royals, despite enjoying the revenue bump that comes from winning the 2015 World Series, just can’t shop for premium talent in the free-agent store.

With Giancarlo Stanton locked into a $325 million deal, and 26-year-old outfielder Jason Heyward poised to join him as a $200 million dollar man, I can’t help but wonder what KC Royals Hall-of-Fame third baseman George Brett would command on the open market if he were in his prime today.

So let’s have some fun.

Applying today’s rules to George Brett’s KC Royals career, he would not have completed six years of major league service time until AFTER the 1980 season. Holy bank buster, that means George Brett would have hit the free-agent market at age 28, right on the heels of his run at .400 (.390/.454/.664).

Talk about timing. Brett would have entered the market on the heels of a Greinke-esque  9.4 WAR season. Except George Brett would have been four full years younger, with a track record of post-season heroics behind him, with two batting titles on his mantle, plus an MVP trophy to boot.

Let’s take a look at Brett’s career through age 27 to get an idea what teams would be looking at:

1976 ★23645942153414767211149.333.377.462.839144
1977 ★2456410517632132288141255.312.373.532.905142
1978 ★255107915045896223739.294.342.467.809124
1979 ★26645119212422023107171051.329.376.563.939148
1980 ★27449871753392411815658.390.454.6641.118203

That’s just insane! Brett produced a ridiculous 45.4 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) through his age 27 season with the KC Royals. Brett’s career triple slash in 1980 was .319/.368/.497 with 98 HR, 111 stolen bases and an OPS+ of 138.

George Brett would most likely command the biggest contract in baseball history were he a free-agent today.

Unlike a current player, we know exactly what Brett was worth over the remainder of his career. George Brett played another 13 seasons for the Kansas City Royals, which gives us a nice comparison to Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million deal that he signed this spring.

However, to estimate George Brett’s value, we need to first estimate the current market value of a WAR on today’s open market. Then we need to apply an inflation factor to get an idea what the final numbers should be.

Fortunately for me, Fangraphs.com’s Craig Edwards estimated the market value of KC Royals left fielder Alex Gordon. I’ll simply apply his $8.0 per WAR market value and five percent annual inflation model to George Brett’s actual production.

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According to this estimate, George Brett would be worth an outrageous $426.4 million for a Stanton-like 13-year deal. If we restrict the contract to a mere seven years, Brett produces $289.8 million in value.

In the real world, George Brett earned $23.5 million over his entire career. Heck, Zack Greinke will surpass that by more than $10 million in one season of his new contract.

While major-league baseball has yet offer a player to such a mega-deal, fans are likely to see such a contract in the near future. Bryce Harper is scheduled to hit the free agent market in 2019 at age 27, though he has a “mere” 19.8 bWAR in four full seasons. Mike Trout becomes free-agent eligible in 2021 at age 29, and Trout has already amassed 37.9 bWAR.

Next: Kansas City Royals Potential Non-Tender Targets

Get ready for the $400 million contract, baseball fans. It’s coming.