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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Transaction Analysis: Curtis Granderson’s NRI and Baseball’s Problem - Baseball Prospectus

This is a losing argument that really doesn’t help players. Ultimately fans end up viewing the issue as extremely rich owners versus really rich players.

Instead of this type of complaint, practical ideas for players to gain more revenue through collective bargaining need to be proffered and considered. Minimum salary bumps would be a start. Negotiating away a year of arbitration (and super 2 status) in exchange for earlier triggers for getting credit for a full year of service time (say 100 days instead of 172, at least for the first season of a player’s career) is an idea that may help discourage teams from manipulating service time. In any case, ideas, negotiation, and compromise will be a much more constructive approach for players than name calling. Instead, we should save complaints about greedy players and owners for our argument against the use of taxpayer money for the stadium deals. ;)

Here’s where it’s going: Non-baseball interests on the ownership side. It’s going to debt service for teams that were bought over-leveraged on the promise of wildly increasing television carriage fees. It’s going as pure profit to owners that bought teams without caring about sports, because they were such a good business investment. It’s going to luxury yachts for owners. It’s going to large bonuses for executives that can slash expenses and increase revenues without regard to whether they can win games.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 07, 2019 at 08:03 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: economics

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   1. Rally Posted: February 07, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5813079)
Negotiating away a year of arbitration (and super 2 status) in exchange for earlier triggers for getting credit for a full year of service time (say 100 days instead of 172, at least for the first season of a player’s career) is an idea that may help discourage teams from manipulating service time.


That seems like an impossible task, discouraging service time manipulations. Change it to 100 and the Cubs simply wait till June instead of April to call up Kris Bryant.
   2. Davo Posted: February 07, 2019 at 10:49 AM (#5813119)
Cleveland’s starting outfield right now looks like Greg Allen-Leonys Martin-Tyler Naquin. The Giants’ is Chris Shaw-Steven Duggar-Mac Williamson. And these teams are both trying to win—and yet neither could top this offer? That’s astonishing.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5813121)
That seems like an impossible task, discouraging service time manipulations. Change it to 100 and the Cubs simply wait till June instead of April to call up Kris Bryant.


For the most part it is. As long as players develop and are ready for promotion on different timetables, call-ups are allowed at any point in the year and free agency is limited to between seasons, there isn't a system that will prevent all kind of shenaniganny behavior.

   4. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5813123)

That seems like an impossible task, discouraging service time manipulations. Change it to 100 and the Cubs simply wait till June instead of April to call up Kris Bryant.

Change it to the earlier of (1) age X and (2) Y years of service time (including majors and minors). So there's no incentive to play games with service time since you'll have the guy under control regardless of when he's brought up to the majors.

X and Y would be set in such a way that X will end up being the limiting constraint for players drafted out of college, but Y will be the limiting constraint for players drafted out of HS. So there's no disincentive to drafting players out of college because you won't have them under team control as long.

I don't know, I've given about 3 minutes of thought to this, and I'm sure there are problems with it, but it doesn't seem like an impossible problem to solve. I do agree that if you tie it only to MLB service time, it will always leave room for manipulation.
   5. . Posted: February 07, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5813124)
It’s going to large bonuses for executives that can slash expenses and increase revenues without regard to whether they can win games.


I sometimes wonder if the people that write these kind of things know anything about how American business and capitalism actually work in 2019. This kind of thing happens everywhere within American business and industry.

Why would the baseball business somehow be exempt from this? People act as if it's somehow written in the cosmos that the baseball business sell aggressive competition among 30 competitors, when in fact that's not the case. They can just as easily sell entertainment or just a nice way to pass three or four hours time or a bunch of other things. The Astros and Cubs owners got very rich selling "the future," and most of the people bemoaning today's state cheered them on vociferously. I guess their argument is that ownership can do that if it's "building the right way" or somesuch nonsense, but the people writing the checks don't agree. (And there's no real reason they should.)
   6. Davo Posted: February 07, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5813126)
Perhaps they hope to get their readers to question the utility of capitalism.
   7. Lassus Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5813129)
I got married and bought a house this year, and opened up a meeting a new accountant that as I finally bought into the capitalist nightmare, I better damn well see it in my 2019 return. I got a blank stare.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5813133)
Change it to the earlier of (1) age X and (2) Y years of service time (including majors and minors). So there's no incentive to play games with service time since you'll have the guy under control regardless of when he's brought up to the majors.


Then Bryce Harper, in the majors and raking at age 19, and a late bloomer like Aaron Judge become eligible for FA at about the same time, which doesn't seem terribly fair to Bryce (or the Yankees, for that matter). And the latter may result in guys like Judge never getting the chance to bloom late, as teams start jettisoning slower-developing prospects based on the fact that if they ever do become good, they would immediatly become expensive.


There is no system that is truly fair to everyone.

   9. McCoy Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:18 AM (#5813138)
I don't see anyone jettisoning a late bloomer because they can only have 1 or 2 seasons of 10 WAR out of them before they have to pay them the fair market value. Now they may not draft/sign them and they may not give them big signing bonuses if the team thinks they have figured out a way to identify late bloomers ahead of time but nobody is going to pass up a 5 WAR season (or try to get max value of that performance on the trade market) because two seasons later he will become a free agent instead of another year of control.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5813148)
I don't see anyone jettisoning a late bloomer because they can only have 1 or 2 seasons of 10 WAR out of them before they have to pay them the fair market value.


If they know he's going to become a 10-WAR player, of course not. The point is, that won't be the expectation of a guy still struggling to put it together at age 24.


   11. What if I planted tomatoes Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:47 AM (#5813160)
7--marriage penalty, cap on deducting state/local taxes your timing on entering 'THE SYSTEM' could have been better.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5813162)
Cleveland’s starting outfield right now looks like Greg Allen-Leonys Martin-Tyler Naquin.


They aren't going to start Luplow? Then why trade for him in the first place?
   13. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5813163)
You could also start the clock once he is added to 40 man roster.
   14. Davo Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5813170)
12- I was just using the Roster Resource site.

But even in Jordan Luplow, we’re still talking about guys who are very unlikely to be as good as Granderson.
   15. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5813202)

Then Bryce Harper, in the majors and raking at age 19, and a late bloomer like Aaron Judge become eligible for FA at about the same time, which doesn't seem terribly fair to Bryce (or the Yankees, for that matter).

Every system is going to be unfair to someone. It's not fair that Brandon Webb blew out his arm before hitting free agency and thus made less than half as much money in his career as Edwin Jackson for three times as much value.

I also think there should be fewer years of team control so guys like Harper hit free agency earlier, so he would benefit from the changes even if he didn't benefit as much as Judge.

And the latter may result in guys like Judge never getting the chance to bloom late, as teams start jettisoning slower-developing prospects based on the fact that if they ever do become good, they would immediatly become expensive.

I'm sure teams would find room for a 23 or 24-year-old Aaron Judge in their minor league system. Teams have tons of guys that age in their minor league systems. I mean, the average age of the Scranton club was 25-26 the year that Judge played there at age 23-24.
   16. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5813203)
I sometimes wonder if the people that write these kind of things know anything about how American business and capitalism actually work in 2019. This kind of thing happens everywhere within American business and industry.

Yes, and the public just loves it in other industries when CEOs get paid big bonuses for cutting wages and increasing profits...
   17. . Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:41 PM (#5813207)
Yes, and the public just loves it in other industries when CEOs get paid big bonuses for cutting costs and increasing profits...


"Love" is a bit strong, but the public in aggregate is perfectly fine with the setup and the general principle. There's no serious effort to change it and no serious reason to think it will be changed in the foreseeable future. Indeed there are entire TV networks -- CNBC -- that positively celebrate the setup/general principle, as do large swaths of the public.

There's really no serious groundswell to upend it. Occasional lip service, the occasional book or op-ed or blog post. But no traction at all.

I'm guessing that people don't really understand this, in large measure because they spend too much time in their echo chambers. I hate the setup/general principle, but I don't delude myself about its support. And again, for those who bemoan it -- and I'm squarely in that category -- there are far better places to spend your energies trying to change it than worrying about millionaire baseball players. (Put aside whatever moral/ethical discussion that might be had on the matter; as a matter of empirical fact, unlike the vast majority of American workers, baseball players *have* received much of the fruits of the industry's increased productivity over the last 30-odd years.)
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5813214)
Every system is going to be unfair to someone.


That's my point. I'm sure it can be improved, and should be. But it's impossible to create one that's truly fair to every party (including the teams), because of the vagaries in development times, the staggered nature of call-ups and the fixed nature of the FA clock.


I'm sure teams would find room for a 23 or 24-year-old Aaron Judge in their minor league system. Teams have tons of guys that age in their minor league systems. I mean, the average age of the Scranton club was 25-26 the year that Judge played there at age 23-24.


Sure, but teams also know that if one of those guys makes a developmental leap, they have six years of team control after that. If teams no longer have that benefit, they may cut bait on the older guy earlier than they would now. I don't know why we should expect otherwise.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5813220)
Sure, but teams also know that if one of those guys makes a developmental leap, they have six years of team control after that. If teams no longer have that benefit, they may cut bait on the older guy earlier than they would now. I don't know why we should expect otherwise.

Well, they currently employ a small army of roster filler in the minors, including a bunch of guys in AAA that are pushing 30. If a guy had former prospect cred, I don't think they're going to ditch him at 24, just b/c they'd only have 3-4 years of MLB control. Why not just keep him instead of one of your 28 y.o. filler guys?

In short, there is no shortage of roster spots in most miLB systems.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 12:59 PM (#5813228)
In short, there is no shortage of roster spots in most miLB systems.


So you don't think there's any chance miLB systems will get collectively younger if team control were placed at a fixed age rather than service time? Or, hell, if you don't have as much team control at the expensive stage, that a current level of minor league ball isn't done away with altogether.

This doesn't mean that Aaron Judge, specifically, will never get a chance. But yes, some guys who aren't progressing as much as a team would like will get sent packing earlier. It seems unavoidable.

   21. Karl from NY Posted: February 07, 2019 at 02:43 PM (#5813343)
Change it to the earlier of (1) age X and (2) Y years of service time (including majors and minors).


This is how the NHL does it, age 27 or 7 years. It causes some disincentive to draft players of age 21+ since you won't have control for a full seven years. But most good players enter the draft younger than that so there aren't really any shenanigans.

The NBA and NFL do free agency entirely on service time and also don't have any such shenanigans.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5813357)
The NBA and NFL do free agency entirely on service time and also don't have any such shenanigans.


The NFL doesn't have a minor league system, and the NBA's is only for players who aren't good enough to warrant any crafty schemes.
   23. McCoy Posted: February 07, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5813360)
If some guy is 24 years old and year after year is putting up .600 OPS they are going to cut him. They do that now. If he's hitting .825 OPS they'll keep him around or trade him. They do that now as well.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5813364)

If some guy is 24 years old and year after year is putting up .600 OPS they are going to cut him. They do that now. If he's hitting .825 OPS they'll keep him around or trade him. They do that now as well.


There is value to a player having six years of service time once he hits the big leagues. If you remove that, he will have less value.

   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5813369)
There is value to a player having six years of service time once he hits the big leagues. If you remove that, he will have less value.


But the value of 2-3 years at minimum salary for even an averagish player is so high, they're still going to keep the guy. They've already made most of the investment.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: February 07, 2019 at 03:01 PM (#5813372)
But the value of 2-3 years at minimum salary for even an averagish player is so high, they're still going to keep the guy. They've already made most of the investment.


For some guys, sure. For others, they'll cut bait earlier. I don't see how that won't happen.

And if they know that they can eventually count on league-average play for 2-3 seasons, then they'll obviously hold on. But they don't know that.

More significant would be if it led to cutting an entire level of play.
   27. McCoy Posted: February 07, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5813391)
Why would you "cut bait" on something that doesn't cost you anything? Sure if you've got a roster crunch and there's a ton of other options but nobody is cutting bait on a 24 year old .850 OPS minor league hitter unless that player has some other huge glaring issues.
   28. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 07, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5813421)

I think on the margin it will probably have the effect you're describing. But I don't think it will affect guys like Aaron Judge or even guys like Whit Merrifield (another late bloomer who, unlike Judge, wasn't a ranked prospect).

In the end, my suggestion may cause more problems than it solves. I was just disputing the assertion that there's no way to end service time manipulation.
   29. McCoy Posted: February 07, 2019 at 03:58 PM (#5813429)
But on the margins it should free up roster spots for the guys even below Whit Merrifield. If you only have X amount of years of a blue chipper you're not going to waste time down in the minors so guys like Harper, Bryant, Springer, and Strasburg are going to be up almost immediately as soon as it looks like they're above replacement which means you should fewer blue chippers in the minors at any given time.
   30. McCoy Posted: February 07, 2019 at 03:58 PM (#5813430)
Keeping Harper down for a year means that you're sacrificing possibly 40+ million dollars of value that you would be getting at a fraction of that price.
   31. McCoy Posted: February 07, 2019 at 04:08 PM (#5813437)
One other thing to think about is that a 24 year old potential sleeper who got drafted out of high school is currently already very close to becoming a free agent. If he’s going to break out in two years but he doesn’t show it until around then he was already a minor league free agent.

Plus they have been exposed to the rule 5 draft.

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