Why Did Gil Meche Throw Away $12 Million?

Gil Meche

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week, Gil Meche announced his retirement from baseball. It is not unusual for veteran players to quit the game this time of year as they begin to realise that another contract offer is not on the horizon.But Meche is only 32, and he still had one year left on his contract with the Kansas City Royals.

And by retiring, Meche is doing the unthinkable: He is turning down the $12 million left on the five-year, $55 million contract he signed prior to the 2007 season.

But why?

Meche cited the need for surgery and said it is “not fair to me, my family or the Kansas City Royals that I attempt to pitch anymore.” He later added that he would rather retire than pitch the final year of his contract as a relief pitcher.

That is certainly honorable. But it is still $12 million. And it is not like Meche injured himself riding a motorcycle blindfolded during The Running of the Bulls. He injured himself working for his employer. And when teams give large contracts to pitchers, they understand the potential for injuries. If there was no risk, pitchers would make a lot more money.

On top of that, Meche was actually a very good pitcher for a good portion of his contract. He pitched over 550 innings in the first three years of the contract and posted a respectable 4.12 ERA.

In fact, if we look at his last four years, Meche was actually worth more to the Royals than amount he was paid…

Gil Meche

If anything, the Royals still owe Meche $4.0 million. Despite having a negative value in 2010, Meche gave the Royals $47.0 million worth of production in four years while being paid $43.0 million.

And will the Royals spend their newfound $12 million windfall? Don’t count on it. Dayton Moore, the Royals General Manager said he doesn’t plan to sign or trade for any expensive players in the near future.

Meche’s decision to pass up $12 million is certainly honorable. But given the inherent risk of his profession, it was also idiotic.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.