A few articles over the last few days have me thinking about the upcoming CBA negotiations that will soon take center stage in the baseball world. The current agreement expires on Dec. 11, 2011, and although I doubt we’ll see a work stoppage, the disputes between baseball’s haves and have-nots should be rancorous.
There’s no doubt the Marlins are planning another payroll dump, and Uggla would appear to be at the center of it. There was a lot of early talk about him going to the Giants, but that seems to have quieted down. Some scouts believe Uggla is best suited for the American League as a DH or someone you can move around, like a Mark DeRosa. The Marlins, who receive a ton in revenue-sharing and central-fund money, are looking to keep their profit margin high.
And then we have the latest from Maury Brown in which the Biz of Baseball writer explores payroll discrepancies over the last 11 seasons. The Yankees have led the league in spending in each of the last 11 years, but the bottom feeders — those with the lowest payroll totals — have been the Twins (2), Marlins (4) or Rays (5). The Yanks have outspent the lowest paid time by anywhere from 384 percent to a whopping 982 percent while the team’s payroll has increased from $91 million in 1999 to $220 million in 2009.
For many, this is a clear sign that baseball needs a salary cap. Someone must rein in the Yankees, right? Brown’s conclusion though is a different one. He wants baseball to focus on the teams on the bottom who continually pocket the revenue sharing money to, as the Marlins do, keep profits high. He writes:
While there is little denying that methods to constrain runaway spending on their part needs to be addressed, the real need is in providing more sustainable spending in the bottom quartile of the league. In 2006, adjustments to the CBA’s revenue sharing system were designed to incentivize the low-revenue makers to invest in player payroll at the major league level. While some clubs have made attempts, most have seen that revenue-sharing disincentives them from spending on player payroll. With increased centralized funds, why spend to win? In the past, winning was the only method insure revenues would come into your coffers. Now, there is less incentive to do so….
When the next CBA is reached (the current agreement ends in December of 2011), look for further tweaking of the revenue-sharing system to get the low spenders to increase spending, and increased penalties with the Luxury Tax (should it be held over in the next agreement) to try and stymie the Yankees from overspending. In the end, fans should spend more time focusing on the bottom, instead of the top (the Yankees) where there is increasing talk in favor of a salary cap. As the old adage goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
I’ve had informal discussions with a few baseball writers about this problem, and the general consensus is that a floor won’t work. Baseball should not make teams overspend on bad players just to meet some salary threshold, but the game can’t keep letting the clubs on the bottom of the payroll list pocket profits. It isn’t healthy for competition.
In the end, I have no answers, but it makes for an interesting discussion. To that end, here’s your open thread. Some guy named Brett is playing on Monday night football. Otherwise, you know the drill. Be cool.