The San Francisco Giants and spenders like them should not be the ire of the players union right now. I wouldn’t believe that they are, but this labor dispute isn’t their fault.
Much has been made of the current labor disputes. Some of the San Francisco Giants players spoke out on it a tad, when asked during the media and “FanFest” weekend.
"“It’s definitely troubling as a player to see that many good big-league players still unsigned,” Crawford said. “Those are guys who can make huge impacts on teams, and teams are not going the extra year or extra million dollars or whatever to sign those guys. That’s definitely troubling.”"
Another Crawford quote a little further down in the article stuck out to me as well:
"“I get teams want to have no luxury-tax penalty for whatever consecutive years because penalties are tough,” Crawford said, “but there are other teams that are far under the luxury tax, and they could easily pick up some of these guys."
WHOO. THERE WE GO. It’s time to get to the root of this payroll issue, and that’s the small market teams, the low spenders, the revenue-sharing receivers that pad their pockets and run cheap rosters with the hope of catching lightning in a bottle. Let’s take a look at some payroll numbers:
The league average payroll, according to Spotrac.com is currently just around $120 million. Of the 15 teams above that line, likely 12 will make the playoffs. If you look at teams below that line, there is one team that if they didn’t do anything else, could have a good shot at the postseason, and that’s the Milwaukee Brewers.
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The Brewers are currently exempt from any payroll grievances. They have a lot of good young players that are going to cost money soon, and they just added Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. They’re trying to win, it’s not their fault their young producers don’t cost much yet. I also thought Lorenzo Cain’s contract was a fair price. He got “Hunter Pence” money and an extra year, two years older than what Pence was. A good deal.
What my bone to pick, and the bone that the player’s union should be picking, is that of the 10 teams are below $100 million in payroll. The Luxury-Tax line is nearly $200 million this year ($197mm), and will surpass $200 million for the first time next season. The San Francisco Giants were a top ten payroll at roughly $100 million in 2010! Again, the Brewers are still under $100 million, but most have them tagged as contenders thanks to a young and cheap team. Fine.
But let’s look at the other 9 that are below $100 million. According to Spotrac, their projected payroll right now would looks like this:
- Minnesota Twins: $96.6 million
- Cincinnati Reds: $83.9 million
- Miami Marlins: $76.3 million
- Pittsburgh Pirates: $75.6 million
- Tampa Bay Rays: $67.8 million
- San Diego Padres: $60.3 million
- Chicago White Sox: $58.3 million
- Oakland Athletics: $50.6 million
- Philadelphia Phillies: $44.856 million
That’s their 40 man roster in its current state. Woof. These are the teams that folks should be up in arms about.
Minnesota has tried to go big this offseason, targeting Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani. And they do have a lot of young studs performing well. So for now, they get a small pass. They’re also the closest on the list to the $100 million dollar mark, which for me should be the bare minimum. But I digress.
The teams I’m looking at here are the White Sox, A’s, Phillies, and Marlins. The Marlins have the lowest TV market of that group, at 16. The others? Well, the A’s are the lowest with the 6th largest market in the U.S. Tough!
Another thing all four have in common is that they’ve slashed their payrolls from 2017. The A’s had the lowest payroll according to Spotrac for 2017. They’ve cut that number by $30 million! And they’re expected to receive 75% of their normal cut of revenue sharing, which is likely to be close to that $30 million. So now they’ve saved $60 million dollars in revenue at the expense of the other teams in baseball who are, you know, trying to win and all.
Here is the bottom line: winning in sports virtually prints you money. You have to get smart though. Teams like the Astros and Cubs cut payroll and loaded up on prospects, which all of a sudden makes it the fashionable thing to do.
The problem is that there is a misconception that they just stopped spending money. They stopped spending money on their payroll.
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Instead invested it into top notch analytics and coaching staffs across their system. They spent money on international prospects. They still spent a ton of money. They just did it in other areas. Now, they’re virtually printing money, just like the Giants are, and are willing to spend it. Do you see the A’s, or any of the bottom feeding spenders “investing heavily in analytics and player development?”
The simple answer is: no.
The Astros spent a ton of money last offseason, and now all the young guys are going to start costing more. And guess what, they’ll pay them. Why? That’s how it works.
And the same is going to go for the Cubs. The same would go for any of these teams that have dwindling payrolls.
But no, the billionaires cry poor.
No team in this current state of MLB, that receives revenue from all over the place, including close to OVER A BILLION DOLLARS from Disney, and is now asking for a 1% cut from profits made on sports gambling if it’s legalized, get’s to cry poor. No team. The Marlins are going to cash a fat check from the rest of the owners, while the team is a dumpster fire on the field and maybe two people in all of Miami will show up.
Am I angry? Yeah. Too many times I’ve seen “Who cares about the Luxury Tax! SPEND MONEY ON THE PLAYERS.” The Giants are trying to stay under the lux-tax line, and that’s ok. Because they’re already spending close to $200 million on players. They also want to position themselves well for Bryce Harper. Admirable.
Where we shouldn’t hear it from, is fans of one of the 25 other teams that are roughly $40 million or more under the tax line. Ten of those teams are likely one of the players worth $20 million a year away from being a serious contender. Most of them have no shot at Bryce Harper next offseason. So why not try and stack up with some of the studs left? I don’t know the answer to that, and neither do you. But don’t blame teams like the Giants for this offseason mess. Blame the others, and most definitely the A’s.