The Sporting News, the once-relevant bastion of all things sports, recently chatted with Chipper Jones on a variety of topics. While he swung and missed with his comments on the ongoing trash talk between the Phillies and Mets, he had a few interesting things to say about the Yanks’ recent spending spree.
It’s never happened to me personally, but I think anybody who hits the free agent market is going to wait and see what the offer is from the Yankees. Because everybody knows that they’re going to inflate the price. Whether they get you or not, they’re going to hike the price up.
Scott Boras and some of these other high-profile agents, they’ll use New York as a measuring stick. If New York is going to offer 5 percent or 10 percent or 20 percent more than anybody else, why not? They feel they have to offer a New York-style signing bonus on top of what a player is actually worth to the rest of the league just to get them to come play in New York.
Ten or 15 years ago, we could lure people to Atlanta strictly on reputation. You knew we were going to win, and we had a bunch of good players. Players would shun money from New York and take less to come here. For the past three seasons, we’ve kind of been on the downslide and not making the playoffs, so you can’t do that anymore. We can’t compete monetarily, so the only way we’re going to get players in here to play and win is to force them–and that’s done by trading.
The downside to trading is that it weakens your minor league system. But the only way that we are going to win now is through trades. We just don’t have enough money to compete with the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago teams.
While a lot of baseball commentators have problems with the Yankee money machine and some owners like to clamor for a salary cap that will never get passed, the players all seem to get it. Of course, the players stand to gain the most from the Yankees. Even though just 25 players, give or take a few, end up on the Yankees each year, every player in baseball benefits from the team’s spending.
Whether these other players have contact with the Yankees or whether they use offers from the Yanks to jack up their prices, our team in the Bronx is always on the radar of free agents and their representatives. In the minds of other team GMs, the Yankees always lurk because the Yankees could always potentially outbid another team for the services of a player they want.
Others can complain, and owners can cry poverty while promoting the idea of a salary cap. But as long as the players know it — and Chipper Jones’ words makes me believe they are well aware — the Yankees will be free to spend, and everyone except, perhaps, the 29 other teams will benefit.