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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Here’s why baseball’s economic system might be broken

You would if the baker waited so long hoping for a better price of flour while the distributor sold out its stock to other bakeries.

“I wouldn’t blame the baker if the flour doesn’t show up,” Boras told Yahoo Sports.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2018 at 06:40 PM | 67 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: economics

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:17 PM (#5607689)
It's only broken to the extent that a large number of teams don't care about competing. The growth in shared revenue, and long term cable deals, means that profits are no longer tied to winning.

This year we have 11 teams (TB, BAL, CHW, KC, DET, OAK, TEX, MIA, PIT, CIN, and SDP) that are making no effort to compete. Another 3 (ATL, NYM, and PHI) are barely trying.
   2. JRVJ Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:21 PM (#5607692)
Very interesting article. It appraises the current FA market in a very specific manner, which may or may not be correct (I tend to think that it extrapolates too much from a very specific situation right now).

Some comments: 1. Passan correctly points out that the benefits of resetting the luxury tax counter aren't THAT big (If my understanding of the rules are correct after reading this article, then there's also some draft pick compensation issues at play if a team is over the luxury tax or not.... but again, it's not THAT much value);

2. I think that Boras gets off a bit too lightly, in that his historical "wait out the owners" strategy may not have been the best option when he basically has clients competing against each other;

3. I don't buy for a second that an elite FA out there will actually seat out until mid 2018;

4. I tend to think that mid-tier FAs are getting under appreciated. That may or may not change in the future, but right now, one would think that there is value in some of those passed-over players.....
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5607696)
I've seen this article or similar about 4 times this year, and I'm just not seeing it. There are just no great free agents out there. And without knowing the deals they are turning down, it's hard to call it collusion.

I mean JD Martinez is the big name out there, a guy who has played 119, 120 games the last two seasons. And only had more than 130 games played once in his career, it's not really surprising to see teams not willing to give a piss poor defensive guy who is pretty much limited to a corner or dh job, who has issues staying in the lineup, a big contract.

You have three free agent pitchers Darvish, Arrieta and Lynn who are pretty much exactly the same while trying to pretend they are the elite, but the drop off from Darvish to Lynn is pretty ####### negligible, so no team is going to care if they lose out to Darvish and have to settle for a guy like Lynn who actually had the better year last season. So while Darvish is trying to set the bar, the rest of the teams are trying to figure out how much it's going to cost to get the "loser" of the sweepsteak with Arrieta or Lynn or Cobb.

Then you have Hosmer, a guy that is one of the most obvious players in the history of free agency that is going to be a mistake to sign to a big contract and you are looking at a top "five" that isn't really that impressive. This is why they aren't being signed, you have four exactly the same pitchers(more or less), an injury prone elite hitter, and a non-elite hitter that had a contract season.
   4. TomH Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5607698)
so we have 16 teams competing, is that right? More than we had in 1960! And more than we had in most years. Many of those teams are "competing" in the sense that they rightly assess they can likely win 3-7 years from now if they don't overspenbd today. Are we angry the Astors and Cubs weren't "competing" in 2013?
   5. TomH Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:39 PM (#5607702)
(off topic, but this seems the best thread right now to mention it)

Anyone else notice the odd-even pattern of who wins the World Series the past baker's dozen years? The NL has won every even year since 2006. The AL has won every odd year since 2005; except 2011, only because a hundred reasons, including a fly ball somehow eluding a RF'ers glove.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:56 PM (#5607709)
Many of those teams are "competing" in the sense that they rightly assess they can likely win 3-7 years from now if they don't overspenbd today.

It's not "likely" they can win, because that's 14 teams building for a 4 year window, where they still have to compete with the teams who always compete. So maybe that's 1-2 championships to go around for 14 teams. Sucking for 3-5 years for a 1 in 10 chance at one world series is a bad trade.

Are we angry the Astors and Cubs weren't "competing" in 2013?

From the point of view of MLB as a whole? Absolutely. It's bad for the sport when major market teams aren't competitive. It lowers total revenue.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: January 16, 2018 at 08:27 PM (#5607726)
the benefits of resetting the luxury tax counter aren't THAT big

Huh? A third-time (or more) offender faces a tax of 50%. If you get under for one year, then go over the next, the tax is only 20%. Sure, that's not a BIG deal if you're talking about going over by just $10 M. It sure as heck keeps you from having been just a bit past the lux tax for a couple of years, then signing Bryce Harper for $40 M a year and paying $20 M a year in tax.

Reset then Harper: taxes of $8 M, $12 M then $20 M (assuming all other payroll keeps you at/above the threshold
No reset then Harper: $20, $20, $20. So reset in 2018 and you save yourself $20 M over 2019-20, not chump change.

But yeah, it's mainly the barely expanding threshold that is the main issue here. It's low enough that a few teams are bumping up against it and (a) nobody's happy about paying $1.50 on every dollar and (b) nobody wants to go blowing way past it when paying $1.50 on every dollar.

I will note that the penalties under the 2012 CBA were higher than I recalled so the shift in penalties isn't that big.

Also agreed with the general consensus that you can't conclude much from one FA year, especially this one with no real elite FAs ... to be followed by some very big FAs over the next few years. But I have been predicting this sort of thing for a while now as "analytics" spread along with other changes ... and like Tom Glavine going off a cliff, I might finally be right! :-)

As to collusion, the interesting bit in the article was the agent talking about the similarity of the offers. That is something we've seen in the past and I believe there have been 1-2 times when there's been a quiet agreement where MLB put some extra money into the pension or something. There was that offseason 10+ years ago when every solid but unspectacular FA OF got a 3/$10 offer. The agent seems to be saying that all offers are either 3/$70 or 5/$100 which is a bit suspicious. (Also pretty justifiable for this set of FAs.)
   8. JRVJ Posted: January 16, 2018 at 08:59 PM (#5607735)
Huh? A third-time (or more) offender faces a tax of 50%. If you get under for one year, then go over the next, the tax is only 20%. Sure, that's not a BIG deal if you're talking about going over by just $10 M. It sure as heck keeps you from having been just a bit past the lux tax for a couple of years, then signing Bryce Harper for $40 M a year and paying $20 M a year in tax.


Passan's point in the article is that if you are the Yankees and/or Dodgers, and have yearly revenues north of US$500MM, the 50% tax should really not disuade you from going after that FA you want.

Also, you are assuming in your example that ALL of the money over the luxury tax is coming from Bryce Harper, signed during the 2018-2019 FA market for US$40MM. And that's not quite right, in that being over the luxury tax is not about the 2018-2019 FA market, but the 2018 season. And there's a chance that a team that is over the luxury tax after the 2018 season moves money away AND also gets Harper at US$40MM. Since money is fungible, the luxury tax hit is only on the actual money over the luxury cap, not Harper's 2019 prorated salary.

   9. Stevey Posted: January 17, 2018 at 03:02 AM (#5607822)
It's only broken to the extent that a large number of teams don't care about competing. The growth in shared revenue, and long term cable deals, means that profits are no longer tied to winning.

This year we have 11 teams (TB, BAL, CHW, KC, DET, OAK, TEX, MIA, PIT, CIN, and SDP) that are making no effort to compete. Another 3 (ATL, NYM, and PHI) are barely trying.


11-14 teams dipping their toes into the FA market at best is not uncommon. The issue is more that the bigger market teams that usually drive the market are sitting out so far. Why don’t the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, and Red Sox push some competition upon each other by bidding up for some big names? They aren’t being any less cheap. The system won’t fail because the Padres and Royals aren’t spending. It will if the Yankees and Dodgers aren’t.
   10. TomH Posted: January 17, 2018 at 07:20 AM (#5607830)
snapper, we KNOW if is NOT "Sucking for 3-5 years for a 1 in 10 chance at one world series is a bad trade.", excpet for the small market teams who refer that to almost-sucking for 15 years with zero chance to win. Sell that to you fans. And tell the Cubs and Astors fans they never should have gone through tough years, it was bad for MLB and their teams. Yeah.
   11. cookiedabookie Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:38 AM (#5607842)
The players need to fix pre-free agency in the next cba. How about this:

Year one: MLB minimum

Year two: $1 million prorated to days on roster, or MLB minimum, whichever is largest

Year three: $2 million prorated to days on roster, or MLB minimum, whichever is largest

Year four: $4 million minimum, with arbitration

Year five: $8 million minimum, with arbitration

Year six: $16 million minimum, with arbitration

Year seven: $32 million minimum, with arbitration (few players would ever get a seventh year of control)
   12. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: January 17, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5607843)
This year we have 11 teams (TB, BAL, CHW, KC, DET, OAK, TEX, MIA, PIT, CIN, and SDP) that are making no effort to compete.


I take exception to this. The Reds are trying to compete. They are just really, really bad at it.
   13. Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:25 AM (#5607856)
cookiedabookie, those figures are too high in the arb years. The teams won't accept such a system.

The players need to push for a minimum percentage of revenue and a higher minimum salary. (Why they didn't push for a minimum salary of around $1,000,000 is beyond me.) They also have to stop focusing on superstar salary as the driver of player salaries. The superstar salaries are no longer the rising tide lifting all boats.
   14. Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5607857)
Also, having a larger free agent pool won't increase the salaries of free agents. It will decrease them.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:28 AM (#5607859)
And tell the Cubs and Astors fans they never should have gone through tough years, it was bad for MLB and their teams. Yeah.

I don't care what's good for the Cubs or Astros as individual teams. The tanking strategy can work, but it's bad for MLB as a whole. Since MLB is a zero-sum game, rules should be changed so you can't tank effectively.

Also, when you have 10 teams trying to tank at once, it won't work anymore, because you get shitty returns in vet for prospect trades. See Cole, Gerrit.

snapper, we KNOW if is NOT "Sucking for 3-5 years for a 1 in 10 chance at one world series is a bad trade.", excpet for the small market teams who refer that to almost-sucking for 15 years with zero chance to win. Sell that to you fans.

That's purely incompetence and/or cheapness. Every team can run a $120M payroll today, and that's enough to win, if your team is well run.

But winning doesn't mean you'll get a World Series Title. Some teams have to go 30+ years without one.

The dirty little secret is that most small market teams prefer guaranteed profits to competitiveness.
   16. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:35 AM (#5607865)
And tell the Cubs and Astors fans they never should have gone through tough years, it was bad for MLB and their teams. Yeah.


The Cubs and Astros pay their own bills, "tanking" is just another baseball decision for them like having night games at Wrigley. It's the teams that expect the rest of the league to keep them afloat and guarantee profitability that succumb to the temptation to slack along making minimal effort to improve.
   17. Rally Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5607873)
#11, I don't think you'd need arbitration if you escalate that way. I am assuming those minimums are just the amounts needed to keep a player under team control. Otherwise only a very small number of players would be allowed to play beyond 5-6 years, and only a Trout/Kershaw talent is allowed to play past 7.

I'd be fine, from the player perspective, to allow team control past year 7 so long as the team keeps doubling your salary. Had he not signed an extension and was looking to leave, Angels might give Trout 64 million for one more year but even they would have to stop when the price went to 128.

Set the league minimum to yearly increases tied to league revenue, and set the other years by doubling each previous salary.
   18. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:47 AM (#5607876)
It really is a sad mess at the moment. There really needs to be some sort of salary floor, and it should be around 100M.

There are teams that are spending less on payroll than the Arizona Coyotes. That just doesn't make any sense.
   19. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 17, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5607884)
I take exception to this. The Reds are trying to compete. They are just really, really bad at it.

They're still spending less than a couple of years ago, when their payroll was around $115M. I think they're projected to be under $100M again this season, even though they signed a new cable deal a couple years ago.
   20. cookiedabookie Posted: January 17, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5607990)
#14, the goal is to get players to free agency quicker and younger, which should increase salaries.

#17, I originally wasn't going to include arbitration, but think of guys like Kris Bryant, who would lose money without arbitration.
   21. The_Ex Posted: January 17, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5608008)
How many owners would overrule their GM to sign a player? In the old days there were several, very few today. The owners have hired smart GM's and in general have left them to run the business. The valuation models these guys use are similar so FA's are seeing the same offer.

Also, there is a trend away from 30 something players. Most free agents are around 30 and looking to get paid for their 30-35 aged seasons. A lot of these type of contracts have had a poor return and so GM's are more cautious about them. Traditionally the top FA's look to pump up the number of years on the contract, the new GM's are looking to reduce the number of years.
   22. Conor Posted: January 17, 2018 at 11:58 AM (#5608026)
The question I have, and I've had trouble tracking this down in comparison to the NBA CBA is: Isn't the split of revenue due to the players predetermined? In the NBA, the players get X% of the revenue in any given year, so if the number they receive is higher, they essentially cut a check to the league, and it's lower, the players association gets a check for the difference to be split among the players.

Is that not the case here?
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5608042)
Is that not the case here?

No. There is no predetermined split.

But the evidence seems to be that the share of revenue has been fairly constant, not falling as some reporters have stated.

http://www.chroniclet.com/national-news/2016/03/21/AP-study-players-share-of-Major-League-Baseball-revenues-remain-stable-over-past-decade.html
   24. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5608049)
MLB first steals six years of market rate salaries from young players, then gets "smart" about not paying market rate salaries to older players. The only way to reset the frame is to dismantle the draft.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5608062)
MLB first steals six years of market rate salaries from young players, then gets "smart" about not paying market rate salaries to older players. The only way to reset the frame is to dismantle the draft.

A true free market system might not actually be better for the players. Sure, the top prospects would get bigger bonuses, but smart teams would demand very long contracts.

If I'm giving an 18 y.o. $30M, I'm going to insist on a contract that last until he's 35. How many 18 y.o.s are going to turn down that offer?
   26. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5608074)
A true free market system might not actually be better for the players. Sure, the top prospects would get bigger bonuses, but smart teams would demand very long contracts.


So long as the contracts were guaranteed and freely negotiated, that's fine. What is going on now is that MLB is riding its long term gaming of the early market (via the draft and arb restrictions) to eliminate a majority of the market value of older players who have reached free agency.

True market competition for actual prospects could go a long way to eliminating the indentured servitude conditions of minor league players as well.
   27. Conor Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5608088)
No. There is no predetermined split.

But the evidence seems to be that the share of revenue has been fairly constant, not falling as some reporters have stated.


Thanks, like I said, it's a lot easier to find this info on the NBA. The fact there's no predetermined split is real surprising to me.
   28. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5608114)
I take exception to this. The Reds are trying to compete. They are just really, really bad at it.

They're still spending less than a couple of years ago, when their payroll was around $115M. I think they're projected to be under $100M again this season, even though they signed a new cable deal a couple years ago.


Hey, they signed some reliever to a big 2 year - 4 to 6 million dollar deal this offseason! The final piece of the puzzle!

   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5608115)
So long as the contracts were guaranteed and freely negotiated, that's fine. What is going on now is that MLB is riding its long term gaming of the early market (via the draft and arb restrictions) to eliminate a majority of the market value of older players who have reached free agency.

True market competition for actual prospects could go a long way to eliminating the indentured servitude conditions of minor league players as well.


I don't disagree with you, but a lot of people might not like the outcomes.

Actual star players will almost certainly make less, while busted prospects will make a ton more. My gut is total spending on players wouldn't change much, but it's going to be spread around a ton of guys who never have significant MLB careers.
   30. Stevey Posted: January 17, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5608162)
Why they didn't push for a minimum salary of around $1,000,000 is beyond me


Becausethe guys with the most sway in the PA don’t benefit from that. What benefit do the veterans get from paying the young guys who are about to enter the league more money? That money would pretty much be coming out of their pocket. Same as with the international signing rules. The PA has no problem givng up money on behalf of the guys who would replace them.
   31. Rally Posted: January 17, 2018 at 02:41 PM (#5608236)
If I'm giving an 18 y.o. $30M, I'm going to insist on a contract that last until he's 35. How many 18 y.o.s are going to turn down that offer?


Bryce Harper will turn it down, he'll find another team that pays him good money and lets him reach free agency earlier. Someone like Christian Yelich (HS outfielder, drafted same year 23rd overall) probably takes that offer and you have a bargain. But on draft day you don't know whether Yelich or Josh Sale (17th overall) is going to be the one that develops, and you will have wasted a lot of money on busted prospects.
   32. TomH Posted: January 17, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5608247)
Luxury Tax Q, showing my ignorance:

Is the team payroll comparing to tax threshold determined once/year (and when), or multiple times, or anytime (whatever your maximum, between dates A and B)? Is it possible for a team to rent player X for a bajillion dollars (Cubs 2016 Chapman, or what if a team gets a Harper or healthy Kershaw for the stretch run only) and avoid luxury implications?
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 03:00 PM (#5608260)
Bryce Harper will turn it down, he'll find another team that pays him good money and lets him reach free agency earlier. Someone like Christian Yelich (HS outfielder, drafted same year 23rd overall) probably takes that offer and you have a bargain. But on draft day you don't know whether Yelich or Josh Sale (17th overall) is going to be the one that develops, and you will have wasted a lot of money on busted prospects.

That's my point. Instead of Yelich making $150M in his career, he's going to make $30M, and the $120M is going to go to guys you never heard of, who bust.
   34. Walt Davis Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:18 PM (#5608537)
MLB first steals six years of market rate salaries from young players, then gets "smart" about not paying market rate salaries to older players. The only way to reset the frame is to dismantle the draft.

The latter is not necessary. Rather dismantling the mini-reserve system that comes before FA would avoid this issue as well. Career earnings would then shift towards the most productive portions of a player's career rather than hoping that teams will pay players for past production when they hit their 30s. (Not that that's quite how it works). At the moment we have something like the following relationship between service time and $/WAR

1-3: $350,000 per WAR** (most players below average in WAR terms), price fixed
4: $2 M per WAR (price variable but probably not by much in practice)
5: $3 M per WAR (ditto)
6: $4-5 M per WAR (ditto)
7+: $8 M per WAR

So you devise a system that makes $/WAR more constant across service time ... something that maybe works out like this:

1: $1 M min, approx $750 K per WAR
2: $2 M, $1.5 M per WAR
3: arbitration but generally at about $2.5 M per WAR
4: arbitration but generally at about $4 M per WAR
5: arbitration at about $5.5-6 M per WAR
6+: FA and probably works out to something like $6-7 M per WAR

I didn't check any of those to see what that would do to overall revenue percentage, adjust as necessary.

Obviously that would have consequences for draft bonuses (today's big bonuses are partial compensation for the fact they'll make just $1.5 M in the first 3 years). It is likely to work against borderline young players which means it would likely help the borderline vets. Howie Kendrick just got only 2/$7, in part because the Nats would have the option of paying some kid 2/$1 even if that kid is less productive. If they had to pay the kid 2/$3, then Kendrick's extra production might be priced around 2/$9. It may not make a big difference but you're presumably more willing to sign Andrew Cashner for 3 years at $X knowing that the first 3 years of the AAA guy you'd use instead is gonna cost you $5-8 M rather than $1.5 M.

What benefit do the veterans get from paying the young guys who are about to enter the league more money?

One reason suggested above. Borderline FAs are currently competing for jobs against guys priced at 3/$1.5 M. Even if they project to be more productive, they've got to drop their price some to compete. It's not even like a $25,000 Honda vs. a $40,000 Lexus ... it's a $25,000 Honda vs. a $250,000 Lexus. Assuming you're the guy selling Lexuses, you'd much rather see Honda raise its price to $75,000 than to have to drop your price to $150,000.

Linked to that is that they may be way behind the curve on reacting to analytics. We of course have been going on for ages about overpaying for old players, paying based on past production, questioning whether you really are better off with Cashner at 3/$30 than with some kid at 3/$1.5, do you sign Duda or stick with Dom Smith, etc. If the nerds in the basement think along our lines, they're already pointing out to the FOs that massive discrepancy in $/WAR (not that they didn't know already). Add in that it seems pretty clear that the financial nerds are selling ownership on slashing payroll and surviving on shared revenue. Season with a barely growing salary cap and collusion to taste and you may have a present/future in which the old MLBPA model is anachronistic.

In short if (big if) $/WAR is going to play a bigger part in job allocation, that changes the salary distribution and not in ways that will benefit the older players, especially the more fringe ones, or the MLBPA. In that scenario, they'll have to come up with some response to that. One approach might be to raise the $/WAR at the bottom end to offset (or forestall) the drop among FAs.

Granted, this is partly just my belief that "obviously illogical and imbalanced" systems have to fall over eventually. Obviously an extreme case but Kris Bryant just got a 200% raise to $11 M ... and is still probably only being paid 1/2 to 1/3 what he is "worth." Neither of those statements should be possible but we have a world in which both are. (OK, technically the Cubs paid Bryant $1 M last year, presumably to buy some good will and his new salary is just a bit over a 100% raise from that.)

The fact there's no predetermined split is real surprising to me.

The MLBPA's position has always been that there be no salary cap meaning the owners insist on no salary floor. The MLBPA fought to establish and maintain a (post-reserve) free market rather then fight for a fixed revenue split. For most of its history, this has worked out very well for players, obviously especially those that make it to FA. There are various quasi-formal agreements in place around shared revenue and how it can be used -- a few years ago the MLBPA complained about how little the Marlins were spending and MLB essentially forced the Marlins to boost payroll. And I'm sure MLB understands that if it ever fell far enough, a nasty strike would result.

There are also lots of agreements around pension payments, the players' share of national TV, merchandise, etc. revenue so some substantial chunk of revenue is shared on a set basis.

** WAG ... like I said, most players are below-average at this point of their careers, many produce 0 or even negative WAR. Obviously Mike Trout producing at $50,000 per WAR or Kris Bryant at about $120,000 per WAR are awesome but that parade of AAA-shuttle relievers you're using to fill out those last 70-80 relief innings at an ERA of 5.40 are also totaling $500 K.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:41 PM (#5608546)
There really needs to be some sort of salary floor, and it should be around 100M.


I'm not a fan of a hard cap, and any type of salary floor would more or less guarantee a hard cap, so I would prefer the reverse of the soft cap we have now based upon the 100mil you proposed. If your team finishes below .500 the next year you are subjected to a penalty 10% of the difference between your salary and 100mil. If you do it again, then that penalty goes to 25%, and a third year in a row below .500 puts you at 50% penalty.... you can reset that penalty by going over 100mil or finishing above .500.
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:49 PM (#5608548)


Thanks, like I said, it's a lot easier to find this info on the NBA. The fact there's no predetermined split is real surprising to me.


Not really, baseball (and hockey) are the only sports that have a sufficient minor league system that is backed by the teams, the money that isn't going to a split for the players is going to the minors, and the better organized teams are probably spending better at the minor league level.

Would anyone be shocked to find that the Yankees, Red Sox or Cardinals are spending more per player in their minors than the A's, Marlins or Pirates? It's not just about the major league expenses. The worst sport in the world to compare the salary structure to baseball is basketball. At least with Hockey you have a minor league system, and with the NFL you actually have a roster larger than 11 people, but the NBA is a single sum game... You pay your 11 players or whatever the money and they perform for you. They are much more important than the coaches, they are much more important than the gm, it's more akin to hiring a tennis player, than it is to hiring a linebacker.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:58 PM (#5608551)

So you devise a system that makes $/WAR more constant across service time ... something that maybe works out like this:

1: $1 M min, approx $750 K per WAR
2: $2 M, $1.5 M per WAR
3: arbitration but generally at about $2.5 M per WAR
4: arbitration but generally at about $4 M per WAR
5: arbitration at about $5.5-6 M per WAR
6+: FA and probably works out to something like $6-7 M per WAR


Wouldn't a more 'fair' system look at a combination of service time and age. Someone in another thread argued that every 27 year old should become eligible for free agency.(or at least have the possibility) I don't completely agree with that, but a system that doesn't lock up a player like Carlos Ruiz until his age 35 season(note I don't know his specifics) should not really exist.

Heck Tommy Pham has been with the Cardinals since 2006....he's not eligible to become a free agent until after the 2021 season. Mind you, a part of that is because the Cardinals stuck with him through his tough times(multiple season ending injuries along with an eye specialist) but it's very likely he'll never see a day of free agency, he's 29 years old, had a career year before his first arby year. I actually like the reserve system for the most part, but there probably needs to be some system set up to protect the guys who are a bit mature for their service time.
   38. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: January 18, 2018 at 09:48 AM (#5608623)
But the evidence seems to be that the share of revenue has been fairly constant, not falling as some reporters have stated.
1. That article is from March, 2016. It would be interesting to see what the split is today with the new, draconian luxury tax.

2. It's based on data provided by MLB. I would be very skeptical.
I take exception to this. The Reds are trying to compete. They are just really, really bad at it.

They're still spending less than a couple of years ago, when their payroll was around $115M. I think they're projected to be under $100M again this season, even though they signed a new cable deal a couple years ago.
1. The new TV contract doesn't kick in until this season.

2. More importantly, they're rebuilding. When they had a high payroll, they had a bunch of arb/FA players (20 players in '15 had 3+ years of service time); now, they're stocked with pre-arb guys (only 11 on the current roster have 3+ years of service time).
   39. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 18, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5608641)
TDF is right. I cannot believe the Reds are trying to win. They won 68 games in 2016 and then their big transactions were trading Brandon Phillips and Dan Straily for prospects, and beefing up the rotation with Bronson Arroyo and Scott Feldman, leading to... 68 wins in 2017. This off-season they lost the aforementioned Arroyo and Feldman and also lost Zack Cozart. They are, like so many other teams, rebuilding.
   40. Nasty Nate Posted: January 18, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5608662)
All else being equal, the players (in total) don't want salary more correlated to WAR, and neither do the mid- and low-spending teams.
   41. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5608712)
Sucking for 3-5 years for a 1 in 10 chance at one world series is a bad trade.


BUt that's not what's really happening is it? The Cubs sucked for awhile and their window of oppurtunity is still open. So how long would their window be?


What about KCR? 2 years? It was 3 for PIT. WHat about HOU? Do they only have one year (last year)?

Its more like suck for 3-5 years to have a 3 year window or whatever.

   42. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5608725)
TDF is right. I cannot believe the Reds are trying to win. They won 68 games in 2016 and then their big transactions were trading Brandon Phillips and Dan Straily for prospects, and beefing up the rotation with Bronson Arroyo and Scott Feldman, leading to... 68 wins in 2017. This off-season they lost the aforementioned Arroyo and Feldman and also lost Zack Cozart. They are, like so many other teams, rebuilding.
Well -

Phillips was a cancer. He was also no longer any good (0.8 bWAR in '16 before being traded, 0.8 bWAR last year).
Arroyo was a panic move when all of their starters were hurt before the season started** - I've mentioned before that the team leader in IP was 122 (Tim Adelman, who was supposed to be a reliever). He was cut after 18 disastrous starts.
Feldman was signed earlier, but also to be a veteran innings eater. He made 3 starts after the ASG.

The story of the Reds in '17 was the pitching staff, especially the starters. Because of injuries and crappiness, they had 16 different starters with 8 starting 11+ games.

**Literally - of the 5 guys assumed to be the SPs when spring training started, none were healthy when the regular season rolled around. No team can be successful when that happens.
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5608741)
BUt that's not what's really happening is it? The Cubs sucked for awhile and their window of oppurtunity is still open. So how long would their window be?


What about KCR? 2 years? It was 3 for PIT. WHat about HOU? Do they only have one year (last year)?

Its more like suck for 3-5 years to have a 3 year window or whatever.


Right, but a 3 year window gives you something like a 1 in 15 chance of winning the WS each year. That's a 80% chance of zero WS. If the window is only 2 years, an 87% chance of no world series.

So, even assuming your rebuilding works, and you don't have any random off-years during your window, the odds of a WS aren't good.
   44. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5608742)
I don't care what's good for the Cubs or Astros as individual teams. The tanking strategy can work, but it's bad for MLB as a whole. Since MLB is a zero-sum game, rules should be changed so you can't tank effectively.


This seems to be one of your main principles here so let me ask you this: If say the bottom 11 MLB teams spent more money on payroll do you think it would increase MLB revenues? It seems like that is what you are saying. But I really doubt much would change if anything. PIT would probably be still treading water, they would still be drawing 900k fans, and now the CIN and MIL are more competitive in their division.
   45. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5608751)

So, even assuming your rebuilding works, and you don't have any random off-years during your window, the odds of a WS aren't good.


And under your system of all 30 teams competing evenly, its only a 3% chance. Im not sure I like your system any better.

What if we contracted the league to 20 teams and gave everyone a 5% chance, would that be better?
   46. jmurph Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:46 AM (#5608762)
Right, but a 3 year window gives you something like a 1 in 15 chance of winning the WS each year. That's a 80% chance of zero WS. If the window is only 2 years, an 87% chance of no world series.

I was critical of the tanking by Houston/Cubs for the same reasons as you, but they've obviously built much longer windows for contending. And it's not about a WS window, it's about building a team that projects to be a playoff team, year in and year out. As has been demonstrated, if you're making the playoffs you have a chance of winning the WS.
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5608776)
This seems to be one of your main principles here so let me ask you this: If say the bottom 11 MLB teams spent more money on payroll do you think it would increase MLB revenues? It seems like that is what you are saying. But I really doubt much would change if anything. PIT would probably be still treading water, they would still be drawing 900k fans, and now the CIN and MIL are more competitive in their division.

I think if every team was trying their best to win, fan interest and revenue would go up.
   48. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5608780)
I was critical of the tanking by Houston/Cubs for the same reasons as you, but they've obviously built much longer windows for contending. And it's not about a WS window, it's about building a team that projects to be a playoff team, year in and year out. As has been demonstrated, if you're making the playoffs you have a chance of winning the WS.


I was fine with it because they paid their own bills - winning improves your bottom line, losing hurts it. Ultimately they have to make their own cost-benefit analysis as to what the best direction is for their fiscal health and longevity. The Yankees, to give one example, may have actually hurt themselves with their decisions to try and contend in the early 2010s rather than reload and make an honest assessment.

But it's when you decouple on-field success from income that welfare teams run afoul of normal standards of decorum and become the sporting equivalent of the pampered fancy lads who can take a year off in Europe to "find themselves" after college while everyone else has to start working and paying down loans. I get it, it's nice to be so foot-loose and fancy-free and not have to worry about paying bills, but if you're fortunate enough to be in such a position you should check your privilege and acknowledge it.
   49. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5608782)


I think if every team was trying their best to win, fan interest and revenue would go up.


well I guess that's your theory ..
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5608801)
well I guess that's your theory ..

Why would it not? If every team was trying, it would produce greater parity, and greater fan loyalty.

Just Miami alone is going to cost MLB 1,000,000 in paid attendance next year vs. what a moderately well-run team would generate.
   51. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:26 PM (#5608806)
well I guess that's your theory ..


Not just his.

   52. BDC Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5608808)
if every team was trying their best to win, fan interest and revenue would go up

The most rewarding time I spent as a fan was following the early-'70s Phillies from hopelessness all the way through 1980. And there's an odd sense that the earlier years were better, before the team got into the position where you could assume they were contenders and you were just afraid they'd lose another playoff series.

I don't think this is an entirely personal quirk of mine. I know one of the really rewarding things for Cubs and Astros fans was to see a group of teammates establish a group identity and carry it through to a championship.

So you can say that those teams weren't trying to win, but I don't think it's that simple. They were trying to win in the long run, and to do so with a core that the fans could "bond" with through early struggles.

It was similar fun watching the Rangers build a team from 2007 through 2010. What hasn't been quite as much fun is watching them sign Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo and the like to try to squeeze a couple more contending years out of a club in decline. (Not a reflection on Fielder and Choo, both of whom I like very much, but their best days were extremely clearly behind them when they arrived.)
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:45 PM (#5608821)
I don't think this is an entirely personal quirk of mine. I know one of the really rewarding things for Cubs and Astros fans was to see a group of teammates establish a group identity and carry it through to a championship.


I think that's true for the core fans. I think there are a lot of casual to moderate fans who tune out once the team stops trying, and take a long time to come back, even when they start winning.

Look at the Astros. They've been competitive for 3 years, with an exciting home grown roster, and their 101 win team drew 500,000 fewer fans than they averaged in 2004-08.
   54. BrianBrianson Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5608828)
TDF is right. I cannot believe the Reds are trying to win. They won 68 games in 2016 and then their big transactions were trading Brandon Phillips and Dan Straily for prospects, and beefing up the rotation with Bronson Arroyo and Scott Feldman, leading to... 68 wins in 2017. This off-season they lost the aforementioned Arroyo and Feldman and also lost Zack Cozart. They are, like so many other teams, rebuilding.


Rebuilding is trying to win. 68 wins was 17-25 wins short of making the playoffs last year (AL-NL) 19-21 in 2016.

At $8 Million/WAR, that's $160 million in free agents to be on the cusp of a wildcard slot next year.

24-36 wins shy of winning a division - $240 million in free agents.

It's actually worse, because you have a limit roster and will have to push people out. Can you even buy that talent on the free agent market? Even if every other team accidentally forgets to sign any free agents? Or do you have to deal with a reality of finite talent? (and even if Cincinnati was winning 100 games a year, could they support a $330 million payroll?)
   55. BrianBrianson Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5608831)

I think if every team was trying their best to win, fan interest and revenue would go up.


This is correct. Which is why every team is trying their best to win. Their best is typically not buying $500 million in free agents and preventing any other teams from signing free agents at knifepoint.
   56. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:07 PM (#5608847)
I think if every team was trying their best to win, fan interest and revenue would go up.
What constitutes "trying their best to win"?

Put a winning team on the field? Finished in 1st for the 4th time in 6 seasons (2nd the other two); 2nd in MLB in wins over that time.
Spending the money it takes to put a good team on the field? Spent $160M+ each of the past 4 seasons. Committed a total of $385M for 2 pitchers.

Fan interest? The Washington Nationals, despite those things, despite playing in the 6th largest metro area (an area with relatively high incomes - DC's GDP/person is ranked 6th of all metro areas in the US) - was 11th in MLB in attendance/game last season, behind the Brewers (a team that hasn't won their division (or been to the playoffs) since '11 and has been to the playoffs twice since '82).
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5608849)
This is correct. Which is why every team is trying their best to win.

That's just not true. Plenty of teams prioritize maintaining cash flow (while lying about losing money) rather than make moves to improve.

Miami is obvious. The Pirates famously never added mid-season reinforcements when they had a really strong team 3 years running. The Rays never spend, even when they'r on the cusp.

The Brewers, mentioned in 56, always try, even when they're bad, and their fans reward them with loyalty. When they've had a chance, they've made big moves to go for it.
   58. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:16 PM (#5608853)
You want a sign baseball's economic system is broken, we have fresh examples right here.

That investor said Marlins front office salaries are among the highest in baseball


One of the least popular teams in baseball, inexorably wedded to the welfare teat, constantly crying poverty...but the people who matter seem to be doing ok.
   59. Srul Itza Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:18 PM (#5608859)
if you are the Yankees and/or Dodgers, and have yearly revenues north of US$500MM, the 50% tax should really not disuade you from going after that FA you want.


Those teams were already pretty well set. What stars are they not going after.

Also, the article made a big deal about no deals for mid-tier FAs. These guys, by definition, are pretty fungible. So why spend a lot on them?

Also: With teams carrying 12, 13 pitchers, they really don't need as many position players as they used to to fill out a roster. I wonder if that may be having an effect.
   60. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:18 PM (#5608860)
The Brewers, mentioned in 56, always try, even when they're bad, and their fans reward them with loyalty. When they've had a chance, they've made big moves to go for it.
According to MLBContracts, Milwaukee had the lowest 40 man roster payroll in MLB each of the last 2 seasons.
   61. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 01:19 PM (#5608862)
The Brewers, mentioned in 56, always try, even when they're bad, and their fans reward them with loyalty. When they've had a chance, they've made big moves to go for it.


The CC Sabathia trade was 10 years ago, but if I was a Brewers fan that'd keep them in my good graces for a long time.
   62. BrianBrianson Posted: January 18, 2018 at 03:59 PM (#5609000)
That's just not true. Plenty of teams prioritize maintaining cash flow (while lying about losing money) rather than make moves to improve.


Except, of course, we've already established that winning is good for your cash flow. Winning and making money go hand in hand.

Knowing exactly when to make moves, and what moves to make (and whether those moves are even possible) varies from case to case. And tanking the next five seasons to improve your chance of winning this year can be really dumb - the Expos trading for Bartolo Colon in '02 was a move, but it was a terrible, terrible move as far as improving and winning go.

Of course they're all lying about losing money, but it's a bit of a prisoner's dilemma - they can't really afford to lose money, and "getting more aggressive" about free agents just mean the free agent salaries go up, and the free agents go to the same teams.
   63. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 18, 2018 at 04:11 PM (#5609012)
Miami is obvious. The Pirates famously never added mid-season reinforcements when they had a really strong team 3 years running.


Whoa whoa whoa, are you forgetting that blockbuster trade for Travis Ishikawa?

Actually in 2013 they did make deadline deals for Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd.

2014... nothing.

2015 they brought in Joakim Soria, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ. The latter of those three megastars was great for them.
   64. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 18, 2018 at 05:46 PM (#5609079)
The CC Sabathia trade was 10 years ago, but if I was a Brewers fan that'd keep them in my good graces for a long time.

The Blue Jays front office is going to be testing that theory pretty soon.

The big moves of 2015 have kept the fan interest they developed for 2016 and 2017.
If things go south in 2018 (like they did in 2017), and the Jays deal away Donaldson at the deadline (like some expect), do the fans keep coming out for 2019 and 2020 before the Baby Jays (Bichette, Guerrero) start making their mark on MLB?
   65. Sunday silence Posted: January 18, 2018 at 06:10 PM (#5609087)

Why would it not? If every team was trying, it would produce greater parity, and greater fan loyalty.

Just Miami alone is going to cost MLB 1,000,000 in paid attendance next year vs. what a moderately well-run team would generate.


I dont think its as simple as win and the fans will show up.

Look at Pirate attendance figures in the 1970s they were languishing then they won a world title in 1971 and they peaked. The went back to the NLCS in 1972 and attednance went down. They won two more division titles and attendance still down they won another world title in 1979 and I dont think attendance ever reached the high in 1971. So...
   66. Zach Posted: January 18, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5609138)
if you are the Yankees and/or Dodgers, and have yearly revenues north of US$500MM, the 50% tax should really not disuade you from going after that FA you want.

Money is still money. It can be exchanged for goods and services, not just ballplayers.
   67. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 19, 2018 at 06:02 AM (#5609336)
Exactly why the free money express model for baseball was destined to fail in its publicly-stated justification, but be wildly successful in its actual purpose.

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