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Monday, February 12, 2018

Rosenthal: Ideas on improving baseball’s competitiveness (draft lottery? tank tax?); potential pace-of-play compromise – The Athletic

This is an overreaction. If the players want to reopen the agreement they’d better be prepared to extend the agreement a few years past the current one. They’d also better be prepared to make big concessions in other areas. The owners have an agreement they like, to think they will make big concessions for the “good of the game” is unrealistic.

Going forward there are different ways the players can push for a bigger piece of the pie. One idea that I don’t like is minimum payrolls. Such a system will lead to bad contracts that won’t help anyone. Instead, though, why not set a minimum teams need to spend but allows teams to make up any shortfall by putting more money into the pension fund? This way they aren’t forced to spend money just to spend it. A bigger pension fund will also have an impact on a larger portion of their membership, which is really something a real union should care about.

At the same time, increase the minimum contract to $1 million. Originally I thought the minimum should increase with service time. Unfortunately such a system will just push fringy guys out of the game.

Here’s a plan to improve competitive balance, create greater incentives for winning and calm the rhetoric between Major League Baseball and those on the players’ side:

Re-open the collective bargaining agreement. Restructure the amateur draft. And maybe adjust the international signing bonus pools, too.

The idea would address what union chief Tony Clark called a “race to the bottom”—the seeming desire of some clubs to gain advantages in the domestic and international markets by losing at the major league level.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 12, 2018 at 06:30 PM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cba

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 12, 2018 at 07:27 PM (#5623892)
At the same time, increase the minimum contract to $1 million. Originally I thought the minimum should increase with service time. Unfortunately such a system will just push fringy guys out of the game.

This is easy to fix. Name your 0/1/2 year service time mins. But these are the mins if you tender the player. So let's say we set them at $1 M, $1.5 M and $2 M. If you don't want to spend $2 M on that fringe-y guy with 2+ years service time, that's fine, you release him and he can sign wherever he wants for whatever he can get ($1 M minimum).

I also don't think it will be a problem. Even $2 M is chump change for a guy you think is one of your 25 best. And if he's even more fringe-y than that, he's probably a guy who's going up and down or (if out of options) on and off waivers anyway. He's getting paid $2 M ... but only pro-rated to the fraction of the season he's actually on the 25-man roster.

This way they aren’t forced to spend money just to spend it.This way they aren’t forced to spend money just to spend it.

How is paying the unspent millions into the pension fund not being "forced to spend money just to spend it?" I understand that it may be more equitable to the broader base of players but the team gets zero return out of that. By spending it on a player, unless the team is silly enough to block a young player with a "we gotta spend it somehow" acquisition (not an FO I want in charge of my team's "rebuild"), at least the team has a chance of acquiring a player that contributes positively and maybe is a small deadline trade chit.

But also it's not like teams are complete idiots and won't plan for this. Any realistic salary cap/floor system is going to be an "average of $X over three seasons" type of system. The cheap team's plan will be to be skin flints in years 1 and 2 then target useful players for year 3 ... some of whom might carry forward to years 4 and 5, possibly requiring some creativity in year 6. But however they manage it, teams aren't going to be sitting there saying "oh crap, it's Feb 28 and I forgot about the salary floor again, now I have no choice but to give Koji Uehara $20 M for one year."

What you want to avoid, although it's hard to see how, is teams cynically eating bad contracts from other teams to reach a floor. Even so, if they also acquire good talent when doing that, then it's not money wasted.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 12, 2018 at 07:40 PM (#5623898)
Can someone who is a subscriber fill us in on what the "pace of play compromise" is?

Or maybe I can just guess: Players and managers won't be allowed to dick around except when they say there's a reason for it?
   3. ptodd Posted: February 12, 2018 at 07:43 PM (#5623903)
Players will tell MLB they will file collusion charges against them and prepare to strike next CBA if MLB does not reopen CBA discussions for the good of the game.

In all fairness to MLBPA the CBA worked fine until Manfred took over in 2016.

We saw some evidence something was changing in the 2016-2017 offseason when FA offerings dropped 1 billion from the previous year and thats escalated this year.

Passan reported in November that GM's were saying they would delay signings to get better deals. That only works if you know the other GMs will do the same. Thats collusion.

The CBA excuse doesn't work for me. Penalties are not really a factor till you go over by 40 million and nobody is even close to that number. Sure the LT threshold did not increase as much as it should but that should not cause deflation. Players did get rid of the 1st round pick penalty that was used as the excuse for the drop off in 2016-2017 offseason.

Call it concious parallelism or collusion, but the players have a tough fight. The political environment and justice system are anti-labor and anti-union. Much different than 25 years ago. The cult of neoliberalism rules. Very hard to prove collusion now.

Owners have it better than ever. Why would they want to change anything in CBA? Frankly if they let players walk away and replaced them with minor leaguers many fans would still watch. Seeing how MLBPA has sold them out a lot more will cross the picket line
   4. JRVJ Posted: February 12, 2018 at 08:32 PM (#5623923)
In all fairness to MLBPA the CBA worked fine until Manfred took over in 2016.


I tend to disagree. The story is still not written for this off-season, but the actual contracts that have been signed by top-tier FAs (Santana, Cain & Darvish) have been solid, if somewhat less than expected. If this trend continues (i.e., contracts do get signed with FAs, but for somewhat less than expected by the players), we are facing a market correction, not a transcendent issue.

MLBPA would be very stupid to strike over a market correction.

(But let's wait to see how the rest off-season plays out, particularly the Boras cohort).
   5. Walt Davis Posted: February 12, 2018 at 08:42 PM (#5623927)
MLBPA would be very stupid to strike over a market correction.

Market correction for rapidly increasing revenues?
   6. JRVJ Posted: February 12, 2018 at 08:47 PM (#5623931)
Market correction for rapidly increasing revenues?


Non-sequitur time.

Since MLB has not bargained for a fixed % of revenues to go to players (or for teams to spend no less than a specific amount), there's no actual correlation between revenues (even increasing revenues) and what is being paid to players.

If MLBPA chooses to fight for a fixed $ of MLB revenues, all the more power to them. And if that includes having teams spend a fixed minimum amount, again, all the more power to them.

But until and when they do, it's a non-sequitur to state that what is to be paid to players should increase because MLB revenues have increased.....
   7. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: February 12, 2018 at 09:07 PM (#5623939)
But until and when they do, it's a non-sequitur to state that what is to be paid to players should increase because MLB revenues have increased.....


sure among pedants and a certain rare set of BTF Ayn Rand shills or some ####. Here in the real world I think most of us working schlubs would be concerned if we saw revenues rising at MLB levels and our percentage of it rapidly falling -- CBA or not.

If you want to talk about a "non sequitur" -- talk about a "market correction" as if it's Adam Smith himself down from on high -- given the monopolistic setup of MLB. Sure, the owners can hoard as much money as they want -- but the players would be well served to strike when such a "market correction" arises among the cabal.
   8. JRVJ Posted: February 12, 2018 at 09:19 PM (#5623946)
7, did you read ANYTHING that I wrote?

What makes you think that I WANT the owners to pocket extra revenues ? Or that I in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER agree with Libertarian/Objetivist thought? (I loath it, in fact).

And hey, if MLBPA wants to go on strike because FA contracts (or at least those signed as of today) are for somewhat less than what FAs thought they should be, be my guest. I await until I see signs like: "A Win should be priced at an AAV of $8MM, not an AAV of $7MM !" or "MLB schtupped us by not continuing to give us a % of revenues !")
   9. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: February 12, 2018 at 09:32 PM (#5623950)
And hey, if MLBPA wants to go on strike because FA contracts (or at least those signed as of today) are for somewhat less than what FAs thought they should be, be my guest. I await until I see signs like: "A Win should be priced at an AAV of $8MM, not an AAV of $7MM !" or "MLB schtupped us by not continuing to give us a % of revenues !")


I have no idea what you want (and apologies if I assumed too much) -- but I do know that you seem to have a strange position on how MLB players should react to not seeing a trickle down of massive revenue gains. I think they should be alarmed. They seem to be. It should be something they consider striking over.
   10. JRVJ Posted: February 12, 2018 at 09:37 PM (#5623951)
It seems pretty clear that MLBPA had no idea what it actually wanted during the last CBA negotiation. Or at the very least, MLBPA had no clear long term strategy.

Now some players, agents and MLBPA seem to be reacting angrily to an off-season that has clearly been slow and lackluster. But anger in and of itself is not a strategy.

When players, agents and MLBPA figure out what they want, and distill it into something akin to a negotiating strategy, then we can see where we stand. But right now, striking without a plan and because part of your membership and stakeholders are angry is just dumb.
   11. John Northey Posted: February 12, 2018 at 09:50 PM (#5623953)
Easy fix for tanking - instead of the current draft, flip it. For the 20 teams missing the playoffs the #1 draft pick goes to the team with the best non-playoff record, 2nd pick to the next best and so on until pick #20 goes to the team with the worst record. Same for international dollars. Suddenly there is an incentive to keep playing well right until the bell rings at the end of the season. Yeah, you might get some teams suck at the bottom for a decade plus but didn't we have that already?
2005-2011: Orioles 4th or 5th in AL East every year, 3rd in 2004, 4th from 1998 until 2003. Now they had 5 years of playoff contention and back to 5th and likely 4th or 5th in 2018.
Oakland has been 5th (20+ games back) 3 years in a row after a period of contention.
Houston recently went though a 6 year stretch of no hope. Including 3 years in a row of 40+ games back. At one point they were getting TV ratings of 0.

Now, flip it so doing what Houston did, and Oakland seems to be doing and have there be no reward for sucking that bad. Then things will change and teams on the edge of contention will be stronger thanks to higher draft positions thus keeping the playoff races interesting.

If we end up with teams 40+ games out for more than 3 years in a row then some adjustments will be needed but the current system not only allows but encourages that.
   12. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 12, 2018 at 11:27 PM (#5623984)
There's a draft position penalty for being over the luxury tax a certain number of years in a row now, right? That's why teams are hot to reset it, not the money. They just need to get rid of that, raise the threshold a little, and maybe free-agency after five years with four arbitration years.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: February 13, 2018 at 01:07 AM (#5624005)
Since MLB has not bargained for a fixed % of revenues to go to players (or for teams to spend no less than a specific amount), there's no actual correlation between revenues (even increasing revenues) and what is being paid to players.

Not a non-sequitur. Market "corrections" have to be correcting for something ... something that has changed beyond the control of the actors in the market.

Offering less money because you can get away with it is not a "market correction" it's "market exploitation."

If it was a competitive industry and the XBL was signing equal quality players for less money (or generating equal revenues at lower labor costs or ...), then dropping MLB salaries could be phrased a "correction." Or if the stock market had crashed in June 2017 and we were in deep recession, then MLB salaries might "have" to drop. Here, the owners are not "correcting" for anything but their own greed.
   14. bookbook Posted: February 13, 2018 at 07:18 AM (#5624024)
What? Revenue increases don’t trickle down? Shocking.
   15. The Duke Posted: February 13, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5624049)
I predict that attendance will drop markedly this year and it will also translate into a ratings drop in tv. I’m a season ticket holder and I don’t like seeing a bunch of AAA teams. This year will be terrible with 10 or more teams trying not to win. I think it will turn off fans.

After the nfl debacle I expect owners will be very sensitive to a permanent decline. Whether they link bad attendance to tanking is another question but I think they will. I bet the mlbpa and owners are in discussions to tweak agreement by next winter
   16. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5624064)
So fans aren't going to tune into a Cubs game or Cardinals game or Brewers game because the always pathetic Marlins are going more of the same? There's going to be at least 15 teams duking it out for a playoff spot. Cub fans don't care if the Marlins or A's are bad and how they are bad. People care about their team winning and every season there are a bunch of teams heading into the season with their fanbase thinking they aren't going to be very good.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5624070)
So fans aren't going to tune into a Cubs game or Cardinals game or Brewers game because the always pathetic Marlins are going more of the same?

No. Fans of the teams that intentionally stink won't show up/tune in.
   18. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:42 AM (#5624085)

No. Fans of the teams that intentionally stink won't show up/tune in.


So whose attendance is going to tank? The Marlins? Possibly, but to what? Seems like 1.2 to 1.4 is their baseline and they were at 1.7ish for the last few years. Dropping to 1.2 to 1.4 doesn't seem like a tanking of attendance. The A's? They are at 1.4ish, where are they going to go? White Sox? They've been at 1.6 to 1.7 for years. The Mets? They bounce around between 2.1 to 2.5 million every year. The Phillies? Their attendance already fell from their heights and they've been sitting at 1.8 to 1.9 for years. The Reds? They, like the Phillies, have already had their attendance crater. They've been at 1.8 to 1.9 for a couple of years now.


The idea that teams that already have experience their attendance decline is going to see another significant decline this year is a little absurd. We've already experienced the drop. The height of attendance was 2007 at 79.5 million paid fans. By 2009 it had dropped to 73.5 million and it has basically floated around that mark by a million or so either way. Sure it is possible that attendance will drop another million or two but we're not go to see only 67 million in attendance or less for next year barring some other unforeseen issues. You then have to consider the teams that are going to grow their attendance because of onfield success last year and this year. More people are going to show up to Astros games now than they did two years ago and even last year. I would not be surprised if they hit 3 million again.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:51 AM (#5624090)
So whose attendance is going to tank? The Marlins? Possibly, but to what? Seems like 1.2 to 1.4 is their baseline and they were at 1.7ish for the last few years. Dropping to 1.2 to 1.4 doesn't seem like a tanking of attendance. The A's? They are at 1.4ish, where are they going to go? White Sox? They've been at 1.6 to 1.7 for years. The Mets? They bounce around between 2.1 to 2.5 million every year. The Phillies? Their attendance already fell from their heights and they've been sitting at 1.8 to 1.9 for years. The Reds? They, like the Phillies, have already had their attendance crater. They've been at 1.8 to 1.9 for a couple of years now.

Those teams are going to continue to have poor attendance. Plus the Tigers, Royals, Rangers, and Pirates should see declines, b/c they're going to be bad.

It's not that they're all going to decline further this year. It's that MLB revenue is going to be down from what it should be b/c a lot of teams have chosen not to compete. They didn't all choose that this year. but more teams are entering tank mode than are leaving it. That's bad for attendance and ratings.
   20. BrianBrianson Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:57 AM (#5624096)
Easy fix for tanking - instead of the current draft, flip it. For the 20 teams missing the playoffs the #1 draft pick goes to the team with the best non-playoff record, 2nd pick to the next best and so on until pick #20 goes to the team with the worst record. Same for international dollars. Suddenly there is an incentive to keep playing well right until the bell rings at the end of the season. Yeah, you might get some teams suck at the bottom for a decade plus but didn't we have that already?


No teams are tanking to get the top draft pick - the revenue hit from doing poorly way exceeds the marginal value of a baseball draft pick. In basketball, where the best players are a huge fraction of the team, and where drafted players immediately make an impact, tanking can kind of make sense. That's because in baseball terms, Lebron James is a 25-40 WAR/year player you could rely on. The average top draft pick is a 2 WAR/year player for the six years of team control, starting 3 or 4 years after you draft. Meanwhile, the the 10th draft pick is a 1 WAR/year player for the six years of team control. What team considers it financially viable to alienate the fan base by losing an extra 20 games in a season to secure an extra win per year half a decade from now?

All these "anti-tanking" incentives work the same way - the make it harder for teams that're doing badly to improve. Which is really an incentive to tank - can't win, don't try.

If you really wanted to eliminate "tanking", you could just re-assign all players at random every year, and have each ownership group put 50% of their revenue into the players' salary pot, with all salaries paid out of the communal pot. You'd also have good parity.

Not that I'd recommend it, or like it, but that actually addresses tanking. Penalising teams for trying to improve encourages tanking.
   21. JRVJ Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:58 AM (#5624097)
Not a non-sequitur. Market "corrections" have to be correcting for something ... something that has changed beyond the control of the actors in the market.


It is indeed a "non-sequitur", in that it doesn't follow that salaries should go up because revenues go up. This is pretty basic stuff, even if you want it to be otherwise.

And a market CAN correct if what is being paid for an asset is seen as excessive (you seem to be making the logical leap that FA salaries should AUTOMATICALLY go up because MLB salaries have gone up).

As Snapper answered you on Saturday's Darwish thread:

Darvish is a 3.5-4.0 WAR pitcher. If you project 3.5 with the standard 0.5 WAR decline you get 3.5, 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5, 1.0 for 13.5 WAR, or if he's a 4.0 win pitcher, 16.5 WAR . Thatt's ~$7.5-9M per win, with no incentives hit. That's fair, but certainly no steal. The 2 year opt-out, truncates the upside severely.


Darwish probably wanted guaranteed money in the $8.5-10MM per win range (at least going by reports out there), but the market didn't want to pay him that because his expectations were out of line with his potential production. You have decided that this is proof of greed, while it may just be that baseball has decided that it's probably not a good idea to spend just because you can spend.

As to your comment about owners' greed, please explain to me where MLB has agreed that its owners SHOULDN'T try to profit from their MLB clubs. There's certainly an idea out there that baseball teams are almost a public, civic trust, and that they should be treated like such (almost as an endowment to a top tier art museum, I guess). But nothing in MLBPA, in the deals cut by teams with cities (which MLB owners have almost always taken to the cleaners) and even regional TV deals force teams to be run on a break even or just above break even basis. It's a shame that cities and regional TV networks haven't bargained harder on this point, but that's life in the U.S. (and Toronto) in the 21st century.

MLBPA does have a chance to push back in the next CBA negotiations, and there's a number of ideas out there that SHOULD help them get a bigger slice of the pie (e.g., penalizing teams that go into "hard tank" mode without at least spending a certain amount of money per year, which might actually spur the "contract clearing house" idea which we discussed a few years ago on BTF and which the Braves kind of sort did in the Tuki Toussaint deal with the Dbacks; increasing minimum salaries, especially for players in their first 3 years so they're not so ridiculously cheap as compared to veterans; significantly pushing up luxury tax ceilings so the big guns have more wiggle room to spend). But as stated in 10, being angry is not a negotiating strategy if you don't have a plan behind it.
   22. JRVJ Posted: February 13, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5624103)
All these "anti-tanking" incentives work the same way - the make it harder for teams that're doing badly to improve. Which is really an incentive to tank - can't win, don't try.

If you really wanted to eliminate "tanking", you could just re-assign all players at random every year, and have each ownership group put 50% of their revenue into the players' salary pot, with all salaries paid out of the communal pot. You'd also have good parity.

Not that I'd recommend it, or like it, but that actually addresses tanking. Penalising teams for trying to improve encourages tanking.


As mentioned just above, I don't think that the problem from MLBPA's standpoint should be "tanking".

The problem for MLBPA should be that teams that are "tanking" tend to spend extremely low amounts, which depresses the market for all players, because there's less dollars to be had. If a team wants to do a "hard tank", that's fine, but it still has to spend a certain defined amount per year (e.g., teams have to spend at least $100MM per year or they get heavily penalized; teams cannot decrease their payroll by more than 15% per year or more than 25% in a 2 year period without getting heavily penalized).

If teams which are "tanking" actually spend money (e.g., because they are doing Matt Kemp deals, even if they release the highly priced player right after getting him), the MLBPA should be mostly satisfied.
   23. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 10:30 AM (#5624129)
Those teams are going to continue to have poor attendance. Plus the Tigers, Royals, Rangers, and Pirates should see declines, b/c they're going to be bad.

It's not that they're all going to decline further this year. It's that MLB revenue is going to be down from what it should be b/c a lot of teams have chosen not to compete. They didn't all choose that this year. but more teams are entering tank mode than are leaving it. That's bad for attendance and ratings.


You're arguing a different point. But I will say who cares if the revenue goes down? If these teams are tanking the costs are also going down.

Neither Cot's or BRef really do payroll totals correctly but using their numbers the Royals are going to be shaving off 30 to 50 million dollars in payroll costs this year. The Rangers 20 to 30 million, the Tigers about 70 million, the Marlins 30 to 70 million, the Pirates 10 to 25 million, the White Sox about 30 million, the Mets look like they might have shaved off about 10 million or so, the Phillies 40 to 50 million, and the A's about 20 million dollars. The Reds look like they are going to be treading water when it comes to payroll.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 10:42 AM (#5624139)
You're arguing a different point. But I will say who cares if the revenue goes down? If these teams are tanking the costs are also going down.

The players. The fans. The other 20 owners who are subsidizing them.
   25. BrianBrianson Posted: February 13, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5624142)
The problem for MLBPA should be that teams that are "tanking" tend to spend extremely low amounts, which depresses the market for all players, because there's less dollars to be had.


Is this true? If I'm a team near the threshold, I'm more likely to go spending if I see an opening. A team having a couple bad years is more likely to make me think this is my year (and since it means my record is a bit better, probably also make it easier for me to see myself as being on the threshold).
   26. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5624150)
The players. The fans. The other 20 owners who are subsidizing them.

Why do the fans care if the revenue goes down? Why do the other teams care if team X's revenue goes down? The players? It's a wash. Tanking teams promote guys that were making 20 thousand a year to the bigs so that they can make over 500k a year and have great benefit. Why should I care if Yu Darvish makes 10 to 20 million less on his contract because some teams aren't competing? That in fact helped my team. So, yeah Cubs!
   27. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:01 AM (#5624154)
Is this true? If I'm a team near the threshold, I'm more likely to go spending if I see an opening. A team having a couple bad years is more likely to make me think this is my year (and since it means my record is a bit better, probably also make it easier for me to see myself as being on the threshold).

As I mentioned before MLB rejiggered the playoffs so that an incredible amount of teams think they have a chance to make the postseason every year.

If your team is on the wrong side of 30 and project to be under .500 you might as well tear it down. If you're at .500 or so you can very well try to make another run at the playoffs. If you're at 70 wins or so and you've rebuilt for a couple of years and the talent is coming through you probably should look to do some smart trades for some bargain veteran talent/sleepers and some shrewd FA signings. IF you're at 90+ wins you probably should be spending every single dollar allotted to you on players that can increase the win total for you in the current season and near future.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5624158)
Why do the fans care if the revenue goes down? Why do the other teams care if team X's revenue goes down? The players? It's a wash. Tanking teams promote guys that were making 20 thousand a year to the bigs so that they can make over 500k a year and have great benefit. Why should I care if Yu Darvish makes 10 to 20 million less on his contract because some teams aren't competing? That in fact helped my team. So, yeah Cubs!

The players care because the "tanking" teams tend to minimize spending on payroll. The more of these teams out there, the less players get paid.

The fans care because it sucks rooting for a non-competitive team. I watched more Yankees games last year than I had in the previous 3 years combined. If they were projected for 70 wins or less, I wouldn't watch a single inning.
   29. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5624178)
As I said, it is a wash. There are plenty of players who now have MLB jobs who are extremely happy that teams are tanking. Very few if any players are actually taking a paycut because teams are tanking.

It sucks for fans to watch their team lose which every fan has had to do since the beginning of sports. But again you're arguing a different point or moving goalposts. I asked why do fans care if the revenue goes down.
   30. JRVJ Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5624186)
Is this true? If I'm a team near the threshold, I'm more likely to go spending if I see an opening. A team having a couple bad years is more likely to make me think this is my year (and since it means my record is a bit better, probably also make it easier for me to see myself as being on the threshold).


The thing is, when a team tears down, it usually tears down hard. Look at the ChiSox: in 2016, their payroll was about $170MM (as per BRef, they paid $113,416,000 to position players and $57,309,000 to pitchers). In 2018, their payroll (which will probably increase) is estimated at $70MM (Sportrac had them at $141.2MM for 2016 and has them at $58.3MM for 2018).

It's a little harder to do that with the Phillies, but according to Sportrac.com, they were just under $147MM in 2015 (the year they traded Hammels). This year, they are at either a hair under $67MM (BRef) or at $44.8MM (Sportrac.com).

Very few teams take on an extra $80 to $100MM in one off-season.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5624190)
As I said, it is a wash. There are plenty of players who now have MLB jobs who are extremely happy that teams are tanking. Very few if any players are actually taking a paycut because teams are tanking.

No, it's not. The number of major leaguers is fixed. There are no additional guys making $500K. Teams are paying guys they have to pay anyway instead of bidding up FAs by millions of dollars is not remotely a wash.
   32. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5624200)
A small group of MLB players are probably unhappy that they aren't getting a humongous payday while a small group of MLB players are happy that they are getting a payday. A wash.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 11:55 AM (#5624211)
A small group of MLB players are probably unhappy that they aren't getting a humongous payday while a small group of MLB players are happy that they are getting a payday. A wash.

No. There are no extra MLB jobs being created. There's just less being spent on FA. There's nothing to wash.
   34. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5624236)
So how are teams tanking? Who did they force into a pay cut? They are losing a ton of games with veterans? If so they should be cutting those veterans because you don’t need to spend beyond the minimum to lose 100 games. I didn't argue that there were new jobs but tanking does create new union members.
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5624252)
So how are teams tanking? Who did they force into a pay cut? They are losing a ton of games with veterans? If so they should be cutting those veterans because you don’t need to spend beyond the minimum to lose 100 games. I didn't argue that there were new jobs but tanking does create new union members.

By failing to spend on veterans. They trade the good ones they have, filling holes on good teams, which supresses the FA market. e.g. absnet the Stanton trade, the Yankees would have been in the market for Darvish or JD Martinez.


They also don't sign FAs, further depressing the market.

Just look at the Marlins and Pirates trades. The Marlins filled needs for All-Star calibre hitters on three contending teams. The Pirates filled the Astros need for a #2 SP, and the Giants need for a corner OF. You don't think that impact the prices of FAs?
   36. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 12:46 PM (#5624262)
You don't think that impact the prices of FAs?

I'm not concerned with the price of FA. If 10 teams are tanking that means that at least 250 union members have jobs when they previously did not, and or are getting paid more, and or have expanded roles that can lead to higher pay. A wash. IF you ask those 250 players to vote on "tanking" you're going to find it very hard to get most of them to vote in favor of giving some millionaire free agent ballplayer more money at their expense.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5624361)

I'm not concerned with the price of FA. If 10 teams are tanking that means that at least 250 union members have jobs when they previously did not, and or are getting paid more, and or have expanded roles that can lead to higher pay.


No they don't. This is beyond stupid.

Those 10 teams employ exactly as many major leaguers as they did before they tanked. No new jobs are created.

All that's happened is the good players who make millions of dollars have been re-allocated to the competing teams, and the minimum wage players have been reallocated to the tanking teams. There are no extra jobs created. There can't be by the leagues own rules.

To make it simple to understand, if the Yankees don't get Stanton, the probably give a large % of his PA to Clint Frazier. Because of the trade, he's going back to AA. The Marlins are going to give those PAs to someone like Brinson, instead of Stanton.

So the Yankees have one more highly paid player and one less minimum wager, while the Marlins have one fewer of the former, and one more of the latter. No new jobs for minimum wagers are created.
   38. Tim M Posted: February 13, 2018 at 02:41 PM (#5624375)
It's not a wash if the MLB no longer represents roughly the 750 best players available. If all the non-star 30 year olds are shown the door, and replaced w/ 20 yr olds who would otherwise be improving in the minors.. well you do the math.
   39. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 02:45 PM (#5624383)
This is beyond stupid.

Yes because for some reason you keep arguing a different point. I did not say new jobs are created. I'm saying that the players on those tanking teams have larger roles (and more money) now because of tanking. These players are not likely to vote to strike or to seriously curtail "tanking" if it means they are going to lose money and or a job because of it.
   40. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5624390)
It's not a wash if the MLB no longer represents roughly the 750 best players available. If all the non-star 30 year olds are shown the door, and replaced w/ 20 yr olds who would otherwise be improving in the minors.. well you do the math.

Well, that is a bit hyperbolic. If those non-stars want to get paid 15 to 20 million dollars to put up 1.5 to 2 WAR and MLB can rotate through its youth to find a 20 year old to do it for 500+K then they should do that. I'd much rather my team spent that 15 to 20 million dollars to throw at Bryce Harper or Mike Trout than to keep Neifi Perez employed well into his 30's.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5624410)
Yes because for some reason you keep arguing a different point. I did not say new jobs are created.

You strongly implied it.

I'm saying that the players on those tanking teams have larger roles (and more money) now because of tanking. These players are not likely to vote to strike or to seriously curtail "tanking" if it means they are going to lose money and or a job because of it.

And there are an equal number of players on the good teams that have smaller roles, or are back in AAA because of the tanking.

Tanking is a net negative for players as a whole. It can't not be. The luxury tax system means that the competitive teams will never raise payroll by as much as the tankers cut it.
   42. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 03:21 PM (#5624441)
Except for that whole part where I explicitly stated that there weren't new jobs being created.

Players on good teams got traded for the Stanton's and their likes and those that got sent down to the minors aren't going to have a voice. You aren't going to convince a 23 year old making almost 600 thousand that his presence on the team is a net negative to the players and that he should be in the minors so that Stanton could stay on the Marlins and the Yankees could drop millions on a mediocre FA.
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 13, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5624483)
Players on good teams got traded for the Stanton's and their likes and those that got sent down to the minors aren't going to have a voice. You aren't going to convince a 23 year old making almost 600 thousand that his presence on the team is a net negative to the players and that he should be in the minors so that Stanton could stay on the Marlins and the Yankees could drop millions on a mediocre FA.

Even if you think players are that short sighted, what makes you think 5 rookies on each of 10 tanking teams have any real say in the MLPA?
   44. eddieot Posted: February 13, 2018 at 04:43 PM (#5624533)
Tanking is a net negative for players as a whole. It can't not be. The luxury tax system means that the competitive teams will never raise payroll by as much as the tankers cut it.

Plus, the finite amount of jobs matters a lot. I'm not sure why McCoy can't see that. If a third of MLB teams are content to fill their rosters with minimum wage players, a whole class of more talented middle class players get displaced. And that affects competitive balance and the integrity of the average game more than anything else. The overall product is less. Even if I'm a fan of a competitive team, why would I bother spending money to go see them play the Marlins or the Reds if they are fielding the equivalent of a AAA team. I might as well go see the AAA game that costs me 1/4 of the ticket price and the beers are half the cost. This is what Manfred and the owners should be considering. When your actions are devaluing the entirety of the product you're selling you're going to drive your customer base away. Pennywise, pound foolish.
   45. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:26 PM (#5624648)
50 votes have sway. Throw in another 100 votes for players that are profiting from having an expanded roll and you've got more sway.
   46. McCoy Posted: February 13, 2018 at 09:29 PM (#5624649)
Where are these middle class players going? No one has been run out of baseball except for the worst of veterans. I'm sorry but I don't need Sturtze to have a 12 year career to enough baseball
   47. Rally Posted: February 14, 2018 at 09:09 AM (#5624759)
That's because in baseball terms, Lebron James is a 25-40 WAR/year player you could rely on. The average top draft pick is a 2 WAR/year player for the six years of team control, starting 3 or 4 years after you draft.


True that basketball top picks are more of a sure thing, and due to # of players on the court have a greater impact on team wins. But comparing the baseball #1 pick to Lebron is seriously overstating it. How often does an all-time great come along, and you are reasonably sure he's going to be an all-time great before he plays one game? Lebrons come around at the same rate as Bryce Harpers.

Baseball teams can tank (if they go to Astros extremes) and secure the #1 pick. The worst a basketball team can do is guarantee themselves a top 4 pick.
   48. McCoy Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5624795)
2003 NBA Draft had its top 4 VORP players get drafted within the first 5 draft picks. The best was LeBron at 122 followed by #5 pick Wade at 58 and #3 was #3 pick Anthony at 29. Detroit drafting at #2 got the bust with Darko Milicic.

2004 Draft was much more uneven with the 4 best players going 9, 1, 17, 43 in the draft and the best player topping out at 44 VORP followed by 40 for Dwight Howard.

2005 Draft was better with the 3 of the 4 best players going 1, 3, 4 and the 30th pick David being the third best overall.

2006 Draft was a bust with the #2 pick getting off the shnide finally and being the third best. The rest of the top 4 came from the 21, 24, and 47th pick. Toronto and Charlotte at the #1 and #3 slot both got negative VORP and the 4th pick Portland not doing much better at barely getting about negative production.

2007 Draft had Durant at the #2 pick be the best with over 50 VORP and the #3 pick showing up in the top 4 along with the #9th and #48th pick.

2008 Draft had Westbrook at the #4 pick be the best with 54 VORP followed by the 5th, 25th, and 35th pick. Derrick Rose the #1 pick had so much promise before his injury and consequent fizzling out.

2009 Draft had the best go 3, 7, 1, 46 with the top two being close at 47 and 45 VORP.

2010 Draft was a bit of a bust with the top value going 10, 1, 5, 7 but the best topping out at 24 VORP

2011 Draft went 15, 30, 9, 1 with the best topping out at 25 VORP

2012 Draft went 6, 1 , 35, 9 with the best so far at 22 VORP.

2013 Draft went 15, 27, 22, 3 with the best so far at 16 VORP.

It would seem to me that the NBA needs to tighten up their scouting and drafting process as it appears to much more inconsistent than in other sports.
   49. Rennie's Tenet Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:18 AM (#5624806)
Baseball teams can tank (if they go to Astros extremes) and secure the #1 pick. The worst a basketball team can do is guarantee themselves a top 4 pick.


This may or may not be the flavor of the day now, but if multiple teams every year go to scorched earth then most of them won't get an overall #1 pick. Likewise, most will end up surprised when they start back up and find others already there.
   50. Rally Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:28 AM (#5624818)
You just have to do a better job than the others at tanking. Sign players who are past their prime, never had a prime, or never played pro ball. Sign a voodoo priest who can't hit a curveball. Sign guys out of prison leagues. Cut off the hot water in the locker room. Make them fly on a 1930s prop plane. Hire a manager from an auto repair shop.

Oh wait, that team made the playoffs.
   51. Sunday silence Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5624825)
Im still not convinced fans in general really care about tanking. Sure Pirate fans are getting the short end and some of them may not show up. But then again Cubs fans have never had it so good with an NL central that is barely able to challenge them. TO pick one MLB division: I am not so sure there would be a net negative effect on the NL central. In any case doing the math might be tricky. How many more Cubs fans are going to come to the ball park now that they've erased the curse of the goat? How many more PIT fans are going to stay away? HOw many new fans with the rebuilt Brewers claim? It seems like its going to be close to a wash...

Plus theres the whole thing with TV revenue which doesnt seem to be addressed in the thread either. And that is that even if fans stay away from the ball park will they stil not watch TV? I think a lot of people put on baseball because that's what they do. They're shut ins, they might be ill, or they're just bored. I might even turn on a PIT game if there's no other MLB on TV...

As Ive said before, can anyone provide evidence that there's a linear relationship between wins and attendance? There seems to be an attendance spike when teams make a first time run at a championship and a spike with a new ball park. But so far, that's all I can see.

Until you can show that, this whole meme that: Tanking will produce lower fan attendance seems just that: its a meme.

Hell if its really true and tanking really does kill bottom line revenue, then there will be another market correction and suddenly next years class of free agents will reap the benefits. Right? And then every body on BTF will be happy. Or more likely the whole conversation will have moved on and people wil be arguing Bryce Harpers projected WAR.
   52. McCoy Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5624826)
The Cubs during their tanking never had the #1 pick. Their highest pick was #2 and they grabbed Bryant with that but that pick could have easily have been less significant if the Astro's had drafted him at #1 leaving the Cubs with the choice of Gray or Appel. They then got the 4th and 9th pick in the next two years. They used it to get Schwarber and Happ. At one point Schwarber was an extremely valuable chit but that ship has sailed and Happ at 9th is one of the early front runners for one of the top players in the 2015 draft. Bottomline is that you don't simply need a bunch of #1 picks in baseball to greatly improve your team. The Brewers never had the #1 pick and yet they drafted Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Ben Sheets, and Geoff Jenkins with their top 10 picks and their highest pick (#2) got them Rickie Weeks who was their weakest draft pick of that group with Mark Rogers the next year being their weakest top ten draft pick during that era.
   53. McCoy Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:41 AM (#5624828)
I think it is pretty obvious if you just eyeball winning and attendance that there is a correlation to it. The Cubs attendance during their tanking went down. It goes up when they win. Even teams that can't really draw well will draw better if they are winning 95 games instead of losing 95 games a year.
   54. Rally Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5624834)
It would seem to me that the NBA needs to tighten up their scouting and drafting process as it appears to much more inconsistent than in other sports.


Am I missing the sarcasm? The NBA teams in those drafts took the best player in the top 4 7 out of 11 tries. I don't think you'll find that in baseball. But baseball has so many rounds it takes a long time to verify. I'll just look at the first.

2013 Kris Bryant best player in first round, picked #2, then Judge (32) and Gray (3), Manaea (34). #1 Appel is retired.
2012 Correa (1), Seager (18), Stroman (22), Russell (11)
2011 Rendon (6), Lindor (8), Springer (11), Fernandez (14). #1 pick Cole comes in 6th
2010 Sale (13), Machado (3), Harper (1), Yelich (23)
2009 Trout (25), Strasburg (1), Pollock (17), Leake (8)
2008 Posey (5), Lawrie (16), Hosmer (3), Lynn (39) #1 Beckham is 19th best
2007 Donaldson (48), Heyward (14), Price (1), Bumgarner (10)
2006 Kershaw (7), Longoria (3), Scherzer (11), Lincecum (10), #1 Hochevar is 15th
2005 Braun (5), Tulo (7), McCutchen (11), Zimmerman (4), #1 Upton is 6th
2004 Verlander (2), Weaver (12), Gonzalez (38), Walker (11), #1 Bush now 15th
2003 Jones (37), Markakis (7), Hill (13), Danks (9), #1 Young is 16th

Picking the best player (of the first round) in the first 4 picks = 3 times
#1 pick turned out to be one of the 4 best players = 4 times
   55. McCoy Posted: February 14, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5624839)
But the problem is that the NBA largely draws talent for their draft from 20 to 21 year olds who have played generally 3 to 4 years of college ball and or are older and or from a high level international league whereas MLB is drawing from high schools and colleges. So the pool of possible players for MLB to sift through is at least 2 to 3 times larger than the pool the NBA has to pick through and they have less data to utilize to find the best players.
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 14, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5624844)
But the problem is that the NBA largely draws talent for their draft from 20 to 21 year olds who have played generally 3 to 4 years of college ball and or are older and or from a high level international league whereas MLB is drawing from high schools and colleges. So the pool of possible players for MLB to sift through is at least 2 to 3 times larger than the pool the NBA has to pick through and they have less data to utilize to find the best players.

There is also the issue that it is much, much, much easier to scout basketball than baseball. Raw athleticism is a much larger percentage of success than in MLB. You can't tell who can hit a major league curveball until they face major league curveballs.
   57. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: February 14, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5624870)
It would seem to me that the NBA needs to tighten up their scouting and drafting process as it appears to much more inconsistent than in other sports.
Compared to baseball???

Here's the NFL over your time span:
'03 - top 4 in Approximate Value: Pick#1 (Carson Palmer), 10, 9, 63. Top 4 picks: #1 in AV, 5, 54, 154.
'04 - 4 (Phillip Rivers), 11, 1, 126; 3 (Eli Manning), 38, 6, 1
'05 - 24 (Aaron Rogers), 32, 11, 1; 4 (Alex Smith), 37, 38, 55
'06 - 108 (Jahri Evans), 12, 55, 11; 7 (Mario Williams), 18, 65, 26
'07 - 11 (Patrick Willis), 7, 14, 3; 138 (JaMarcus Russell), 6, 4, 78
'08 - 3 (Matt Ryan), 18, 50, 44; 14 (Jake Long), 25, 1, 30
'09 - 1 (Matt Stafford), 53, 26, 21; 1, 112, 38, 91
'10 - 195 (Antonio Brown), 2, 120, 14; 29 (Sam Bradford), 2, 8, 9
'11 - 1 (Cam Newton), 11, 2, 5; 1, 3, 19, 9
'12 - 75 (Russell Wilson), 9, 47, 1; 4 (Andrew Luck), 27, 77, 19
'13 - 48 (LeVeon Bell), 109, 31, 13; 7 (Eric Fisher), 42, 151, 14

Over that time, the top 4 in draft position has been in the top 4 in career AV 11 times; 15 of the top 4 in career AV slipped out of the 1st round. Nine of those top-4 draft picks have a career AV outside of the tip 50 for their draft classes.
   58. TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: February 14, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5624887)
But the problem is that the NBA largely draws talent for their draft from 20 to 21 year olds who have played generally 3 to 4 years of college ball and or are older and or from a high level international league
Yeah, no. First, 20 year olds have 2 years of college, not 3. Second, among top-4 picks:

'03 - As a rookie Lebron was 18, Milicic was 18, Anthony 19, Bosh 18.
'04 - Howard was 19, Livingston 19.
'05 - Marvin Williams was 19, Chris Paul 20
'06 - Tyrus Thomas was 20
'07 - Kevin Durant was 19, Mike Conley 20
'08 - Rose was 20, Beasley was 20, Westbrook was 20
'09 - Hardin was 20, Evans was 20
'10 - Wall was 20, Favors 19
'11 - Erving was 19, Williams was 20, Kanter was 19, Thompson 20
'12 - Davis was 19, Kidd-Golchrist 19, Beal 19
'13 - Bennett was 20, Porter 20

That's 27 out of 44 picks with 2 or fewer years of college experience.
   59. Rally Posted: February 14, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5624907)
But the problem is that the NBA largely draws talent for their draft from 20 to 21 year olds who have played generally 3 to 4 years of college ball and or are older and or from a high level international league whereas MLB is drawing from high schools and colleges. So the pool of possible players for MLB to sift through is at least 2 to 3 times larger than the pool the NBA has to pick through and they have less data to utilize to find the best players.


This is about 20 years out of date. At least when it comes to the top picks, NBA teams are looking mostly at 19 year olds who have played one year in college.
   60. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: February 14, 2018 at 01:26 PM (#5624952)
As Ive said before, can anyone provide evidence that there's a linear relationship between wins and attendance? There seems to be an attendance spike when teams make a first time run at a championship and a spike with a new ball park. But so far, that's all I can see.

Until you can show that, this whole meme that: Tanking will produce lower fan attendance seems just that: its a meme.
After doing a quick regression on the Cubs and HOU from 1982 to present, 2 significant factors in estimating attendance appear to be the year (clearly increasing attendance trend over time) and previous year wins. Multi-year moving averages are better attendance predictors than single year.

Cubs: each "previous year win" is worth around 20K tickets sold and there is about a 35K baseline attendance increase per year, regardless of performance. R^2 of .8 and pval 0.0002.

HOU: each "previous year win" is worth around 48K tickets sold and there is about a 43K baseline attendance increase per year, regardless of performance. R^2 of .72 and pval 2x10^-8.

It's interesting that 1) HOU attendance was much more sensitive to performance than CHN, and 2) in HOU the attendance fell off even more than expected during the tank years, and didn't increase as much as expected in 2016-2017. Despite being in the "win cycle" and the overall increasing attendance trend, HOU attendance in 2015-2017 has been significantly below that of 99-08.
   61. Sunday silence Posted: February 14, 2018 at 04:13 PM (#5625078)
ok but those are large market teams. What about small market teams? can we get some numbers for them?
   62. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: February 14, 2018 at 04:17 PM (#5625082)
Poor millionaires.

Wages are set by supply and demand, like any other price. The only way they're going to increase demand is to lobby for expansion (which is essentially finding a few cities with taxpayers ripe to be bilked against their will) or increase competitiveness with a sort of salary cap - which they did!

But the problem with the salary cap is that it begins with a few teams already maxed out at payroll - and they happened to be the winningest teams. So the first year or two of an era with a salary cap are going to see reduced demand for the available players. But this will probably work itself out in two or three years.

I would much rather see the increased MLB revenues go toward paying for its own facilities rather than swindling taxpayers. But I guess I'm just one of those hateful Randians that doesn't live in the real world.
   63. Sleepy's not going to blame himself Posted: February 14, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5625211)
ok but those are large market teams. What about small market teams? can we get some numbers for them?
Also works for OAK, MIL, PIT, MIN and CIN (3 year moving avg on wins). Basically every team I looked at, I didn't intentionally cherry pick anything although I had to add a ballpark variable for a couple of them.

Oakland is an even better fit (r^2 of .86, pval 1.57447E-14). A previous year win is worth about 41K tickets sold but interestingly, OAK actually has a declining attendance trend over time (-7.3K/year). OAK is the only team I could find with a negative trend there.

MIL is almost identical to HOU, 45K positive year trend and 39K per previous year win. R^2 of .79 and miniscule pval.

PIT does have a large 1-year bump in 2001 (new ballpark) and a couple of other outliers that throw things off (r^2 of .62), but the overall trend is the same, about 27K per year and 21K per win. I tried adding a dummy variable for "new ballpark" and it did improve r^2 slightly (to .71)but the pval is pretty bad (.25). Part of this is that PIT attendance fell off significantly faster than the simple model predicted in 2016 and 2017 (160K and 400K lower, respectively).

MIN and CIN both required a dummy variable for the effects of a new ballpark. MIN got a boost of ~940K from the park effect, while CIN got about 320K/year. Looks like the effect lasted about 4 years, then fell off rapidly. Otherwise both had similar trends for the annual attendance increase and effect of wins. The year by year increase was smaller: 5K and 12K, respectively. The attendance value of a previous year win was about 39K tickets for both teams. R^2 of .69 and .65, all pvals low except for the year for MIN, suspect due to colinearity with the ballpark dummy var.
   64. BDC Posted: February 14, 2018 at 07:03 PM (#5625235)
It's interesting that 1) HOU attendance was much more sensitive to performance than CHN

Maybe a more devoted fanbase is a factor, but another factor is certainly that Wrigley Field is a tourist destination and whatever the place in Houston is called, is not. Houston is no tourist magnet to begin with, but if you're going to be there, you think of NASA, not of Formerly Known As Enron Field.

Thus I would predict that White Sox attendance would be more sensitive to performance than Cubs. It is an interesting phenomenon.

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