ERA, WHIP, FIP, IPO...one of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong. Which is it?
For Andrew Heaney, the answer is "none of the above." As Ken Rosenthal writes, the Angel pitcher has signed a deal with a company called Fantex that will allow the public to buy stock in his future earnings. This will be the first such deal of its kind involving a major league baseball player (although I feel like a minor league player might have tried this informally several years ago, but I can't recall who it was or what became of it).
As part of the deal, Heaney will receive $3.34 million, assuming that Fantex can raise at least that much money from selling shares to investors. In exchange, Fantex and those who buy Heaney's stock will receive the rights to 10% of Heaney's future earnings, which include his player salary, endorsement deals, and other fees he receives for being a professional athlete. This means that if Heaney's earnings exceed $33.4 million for his career, his owners will receive a positive return on their investment. As reported in Rosenthal's article, Fantex has reached similar agreements with several NFL players.
I admit, I'm not a stock market guy. I don't follow the finance world very closely, and my knowledge of investment strategies and the different vehicles used in those strategies is limited. But this brings up quite a few questions, and I'm curious as to what other Angels fans think.
- Is this a good deal for Heaney? He's essentially cashing in now to mitigate his risk. With the way pitchers get injured or suddenly fall apart, I can't say I blame him for wanting to bank some income up front. On the other hand, if he becomes a star, or even a semi-star, he could have cost himself a decent amount of cash.
- Is this analogous to a player signing an early, cheap extension? I see similarities, but this deal seems like it has the potential to cost Heaney a lot more. Sure, a player could sign a cheap 8-year extension early in his career, but he always has the opportunity to cash in later when that extension runs out. This agreement will cost Heaney 10% no matter what.
- Does this put additional pressure on Heaney? It's one thing for a fan to have an emotional investment in a team or a player. When a player turns into a bum, it's always disappointing, and might even lead to boos from the hometown faithful. But that's usually the extent of it, and as a major leaguer playing everyday in front of 40,000 people, that kind of thing comes with the territory. Now fans will have emotional investment AND financial investment. Heaney's performance won't just affect your October TV viewing, it could potentially affect your kid's college savings plan.
- As a fan, what do you think of the mere existence of this type of contract? It reinforces even further that Major League Baseball is a business, not just a game. I imagine that it won't change much for most fans. But I can easily see how, for others, baseball's magic might diminish.
- For investors or investment advisors out there, what do you think of this opportunity? Where does it fall on the risk scale? Is Andrew Heaney a worthwhile investment for my portfolio?