A look at ever-increasing player salaries and the player best-positioned to eclipse the $300 million mark
"Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face." – Albert Spalding, 1881
How long have we been hearing that baseball players are paid too much? By my count, it’s been since it was decided that they should be paid. Babe Ruth was the first to hit the $50,000 mark in 1922, and Hank Greenburg hit the $100,000 mark 25 years later.
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Long-term extensions for star players may be shortsighted moves by teams.
On Opening Day Eve (ignoring the two games held at the crack of dawn to accommodate the Tokyo Dome venue), the big story in baseball is a pair of big-money deals—Matt Cain and Joey Votto got paid, man. What’s interesting is that these were players years away from free agency, who certainly didn’t need to be signed now.
Can these deals go bad? Of course they can. An object lesson is Ryan Howard, whose contract extension has managed to look worse and worse over the past few seasons, even though it won't start covering real baseball games until tomorrow. Will they go bad? It’s hard to say, and the esteemable Ben Lindberghdoes a better job covering the possibilities than I could. That frees us up to consider the larger implications—what does all this money mean?
Are team-friendly contract extensions signed early in players' careers about to become a lot longer?
A few weeks ago, I asked this question on Twitter: If Mike Trout were willing to sign a 20-year contract with the Angels right now, what would be a fair price? The responses I got ranged from $100 million to $350 million and averaged $243 million. Glenn DuPaul did the heavy lifting to try to answer this, which is great for me, because Less Heavy Lifting is basically my entire goal in life. It’s why I went to college, and it’s why my furniture is made of Nerf. Glenn’s answer: $274 million. OK! He also wrote this, which is probably what I would have written, too, to avoid sounding like a crazy person:
The Pirates have turned into a three-ring circus, along with other notes from around the major leagues.
Pirates management insists it has a plan in place that will transform the downtrodden franchise from laughingstock to winner. Chairman Bob Nutting says they do and so does team president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington, and manager John Russell. However, the plan certainly isn't paying dividends at the present. The Pirates are 25-44 and 13 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. Only the Orioles, with their 19-50 record, are keeping the Pirates from having the worst record in the major leagues.
A brisk run through the possible outcomes of the arbitration case between the players' representatives and the players' employers.
The hearing for Grievance No. 2008-11 (August 15 deadline) begins on Wednesday, and to an outsider, it looks like an open and shut case. The grievance, as filed by the union against MLB, accuses the Commissioner's Office of providing extensions to the signing deadline, thus changing collectively bargained rules without informing the union. In statements about the case, Major League Baseball has already admitted to providing such extensions. So while it looks like an easy win for the union, the more complicated issue concerns the award. As detailed yesterday, the grievance is not filed on behalf of Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, or their advisor, Scott Boras, nor is it filed against the Kansas City Royals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's only the MLBPA versus MLB, which complicates any kind of relief, as any determination for relief will have a significant effect on individuals as opposed to their organizations as a whole. Here's a look at many of the potential scenarios being ventured, both in order of explosiveness, and also (unfortunately for those who love
drama) in inverse order of likelihood.
Developments in the battle royale between just about everyone in the baseball industry.
It really was the statement heard 'round the world, as from the time of its release until the end of the day, my phone has been burning in non-stop discussions with teams, agents, players, and other members of the media all looking to talk about the Pedro Alvarez situation. The statement issued by the Pirates is very strong in tone, and tells us quite a bit in only 575 words. We all know that Pittsburgh team president Frank Coonelly has a close relationship with the commissioner's office, and the document almost sounds as if it came straight from New York. Let's take a word by word look at it, and talk about what is actually known, what is merely rumored, and what may eventually happen.