Saturday Links: Trade Talks, Draft Picking Trading, Forbes

Irrelevant photo is irrelevant. (Presswire)
Irrelevant photo is irrelevant. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Angels Mariners continue their weekend series a little later today, so, until then, here are some links to help you pass the time.

Yankees already engaged in trade talks

This is no surprise, but assistant GM Billy Eppler confirmed the Yankees are already having trade conversations with other teams during a recent radio interview. The trade deadline is two weeks from yesterday. Here’s what Eppler said, via Brendan Kuty:

“I know (Brian Cashman) has been having conversations with clubs, will continue to have conversations with clubs. We kind of check in. I’ll check in with some counterparts and our scouts out in the field will have some conversations here and there and just kind of keep their ears open. Our antennas are up. There will be some conversations. And Cashman will have those conversations regarding what we might be able to do. He’ll take those to ownership. But often times the seller is the one with the leverage and it’s generally a seller’s market with an extra wildcard added in. There’s less players. Less clubs that are out there. So that shrinks your player pool and raises the acquisition costs of guys. And a lot of time the opportunity just doesn’t present itself.”

The team’s needs leading into the trade deadline are pretty obvious: pitching depth and a second baseman, preferably. I’m glad they’re giving Rob Refsnyder a chance right now, but I don’t feel too comfortable rolling with him as the everyday second baseman in a pennant race. Another right-handed bat for the bench would make sense too. Given their position in the standings and the fact the Yankees haven’t been to the postseason since 2013, I expect them to be aggressive at the deadline. The other four AL East teams are begging New York to run away with the division.

Trading draft picks will be discussed for next CBA

Over the All-Star break, commissioner Rob Manfred told Eric Fisher he would like teams to have flexibility by allowing them to trade draft picks. He expects that to be part of talks during the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations following the 2016 season. Right now only Competitive Balance Lottery picks can be traded. Only small market and low payroll teams get those.

I’m curious to see how trading picks would work. They’d have to limit it to the first round or something like that, right? Maybe the first three rounds? If teams were allowed to trade every pick, I’d ask for a 30-something rounder in every trade. Why not? Free lottery ticket. The Competitive Balance Lottery picks that have been traded the last few years have been traded for small-ish returns — relievers, mid-range prospects, etc. I’m curious to see how, say, a top five pick would be valued in a trade.

Yankees rank as second most valuable franchise in sports

According to the latest Forbes rankings, the Yankees are currently the second most valuable sports franchise in the world at $3.2 billion. Only Real Madrid ($3.26 billion) is worth more, though the Dallas Cowboys are tied with the Yankees are $3.2 billion. Barcelona ($3.16 billion) and Manchester United ($3.1 billion) round out the top five. The Dodgers rank second overall at $2.4 billion and are the second most valuable baseball franchise. Here’s the blurb from Kurt Badenhausen:

The Yankees lead a group of 12 MLB teams, up from six last year, in the top 50. Credit the massive influx of TV money, both nationally and locally, for soaring baseball values. The Yankees were one of the first teams to recognize the importance of TV with their launch of the YES Network in 2002. It has been the most-watched regional sports network in 11 of the past 12 years. Yankee Global Enterprises retains 20% of the RSN with Fox owning 80% after upping their stake in 2014.

The value of the Yankees is up 28%, and the team moved up two spots to tie for second place. The 27-time world champions missed the postseason for the second consecutive season in 2014 and only the third time since 1994, but the Bronx Bombers still finished tops in the American League in attendance, averaging 42,520 fans per game. The Yankees generated $676 million in revenue before deducting for $90 million in revenue-sharing payments and $78 million in bond payments that go towards stadium debt.

The Yankees don’t have a Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter retirement tour to lean on for a late-season attendance bump this year, but they are absolutely in contention, so that will help. There’s still an entire second half to go right now, but returning to the postseason is not a pipe dream, it’s a legitimate possibility. That will only improve the franchise’s value. The Yankees are a money-making machine. I truly believe the Steinbrenners will not sell the team, but, if they did, could they get $5 billion?

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Business Notes: Payroll, In-Market Streaming, Yankee Stadium Letters

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all of these spare business-related links I had lying around, so I might as lump them into one post. Here are some miscellaneous links worth passing along.

Yankees open season with $219M payroll

According to numbers compiled by the Associated Press, the Yankees opened the 2015 regular season with a $219,282,196 payroll, second highest in baseball behind the Dodgers ($272,789,040!). That is the team’s second highest Opening Day payroll in history, behind the $228,106,900 payroll they had at the start of 2013. The Yankees added about $10.5M in payroll during the season from 2010-14 according to the numbers at Cot’s, so while the Yankees are starting the season at $219.3M, recent history suggests they’ll end the year at $230M or so.

Average salary climbs to $4.25M

The average player salary in MLB climbed to $4.25M this season, so says the Associated Press. That is up from $3.95M last year and $3.65M the season before. “MLB’s revenues have grown in recent years, with the increase in national and local broadcast rights fees being a primary contributor. It is expected that player compensation will increase as club revenues increase,” said MLB’s chief legal officer Dan Halem to the Associated Press, stating the obvious.

This is the first time the average player salary has topped $4M. The average salary first broke $1M in 1992, $2M in 2001, and $3M in 2008. Clayton Kershaw is the game’s highest paid player this season at $31M, with Justin Verlander ($28M) and Zack Greinke ($28M) placing second and third. Also, Robert Raiola says the per diem for road days is $100.50 this season, up from $99 last year. That’s a nice little allowance but it’s actually not wildly out of line with what many folks with normal jobs receive during business trips. Either way, yeah, it’s good to be a baseball player.

Manfred hopes to have in-market streaming this year

Two weeks ago we heard MLB will soon announce a deal allowing fans to stream in-market games online. That report was a bit premature — no such deal is imminent — but new commissioner Rob Manfred did confirm to Brian Costa and Matthew Futterman that they are working on an in-market streaming service and hope to have it in place this year. From Costa and Futterman:

WSJ: You’ve discussed how important technology is to reach young fans. When will a 15-year-old in New York be able to watch a Yankees game on his phone?

Manfred: The best way to answer that question is to say the better part of my workday today was consumed by the topic of in-market streaming. It is particularly complicated in the context of a media market that is changing so quickly, but I do believe we will get a solution on in-market streaming in the relatively near future.

WSJ: Sometime this year?

Manfred: I hope so. I’d like to believe there will be games streamed at some point this year.

It’s unclear how such an agreement would work, though I’m guessing Yankees fans would have to subscribe to YES through their cable provider, then pay an additional fee to be able to stream online. YES did have an in-market streaming service a few years back that was totally awesome — if I remember correctly, you needed both a YES subscription and an MLB.tv subscription, and then had to pay an extra $50 — but it was discontinued for whatever reason.

Hopefully MLB gets this in-market streaming thing figured out and soon. It’s 2015. I’m very willing to spend my hard-earned American dollars for the right to watch the Yankees on my phone while standing on a subway platform.

No bids for YANKEE STADIUM letters

And finally, remember the giant old YANKEE STADIUM letters Reggie Jackson put up for auction? Darren Rovell says no one bid on ’em. The only bid placed at least week’s auction was a phony $280,000 bid an auction house employee placed on Jackson’s behalf in an attempt to spur on other bidders. Reggie was hoping to get $300,000 to $600,000 total for the 13 giant letters. Practicality 1, nostalgia 0.

Forbes: Yankees worth an estimated $3.2 billion

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Once again, the Yankees have been ranked as the most valuable franchise in baseball. Forbes released their annual franchise valuations yesterday, and New York claimed the top spot with an estimated value of $3.2 billion. This is their 18th consecutive year atop the Forbes rankings. The Dodgers are a distant second with an estimated value of $2.4 billion.

The Yankees generated an estimated $508M in revenue last year — the Dodgers were again second at $403M — again the most in baseball, though their $8.1M operating income ranked only 22nd out of the 30 clubs. The Cardinals ($73.6M), Cubs ($73.3M), and World Series champion Giants ($68.4M) had by far the highest operating incomes. From the write-up:

The New York Yankees are worth the most, $3.2 billion, and are tied with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys as the most valuable U.S. sports team (Spanish soccer club Real Madrid, worth $3.44 billion, is the most valuable in the world). The Yankees have been the most valuable baseball team each of the 18 years Forbes has valued MLB franchises since 1998. During the 2014 season, the Bronx Bombers generated a record $508 million of revenue after deducting PILOT bond payments of $78 million and the $90 million the team contributed to baseball’s revenue-sharing system. The team raked in over $100 million in local television rights payments, and Derek Jeter’s last season in pinstripes goosed ticket and merchandise sales.

The franchise value is up from $2.5 billion last year, according to Forbes. The Yankees were valued at $2.3 billion in 2013, $1.85 billion in 2012, $1.7 billion in 2011, and $1.6 billion in 2010. The huge jump in franchise value from 2013 to 2014 was thanks in part to baseball’s new national television deals, as well as the team’s deal to sell part of YES to News Corp.

Despite their continued reign atop the franchise valuations — to be fair, Forbes is only estimating — Hal Steinbrenner is content to throw away his team’s inherent market advantage by reducing payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold in two years or so. I understand why he wants to do it, luxury tax is wasted money, but as a fan I don’t like it all. The Yankees aren’t taking full advantage of the New York market and their on-field product both is and will continue to suffer.

Forbes: Yankees, YES Network among most valuable brands in sports

Forbes published their #brand value rankings yesterday, and, unsurprisingly, both the Yankees and the YES Network rate very highly. Despite a second straight postseason-less year, the Yankees saw their brand value increase from $443M to $531M in 2014, the highest among all pro sports teams. Real Madrid is second at $484M. YES was the seventh highest business brand, going from $625M to $680M. It’s behind companies like Nike and Adidas, among others.

According to the write-up, the team’s brand value “captures the name recognition and incremental earnings power that comes with winning 27 World Series. But it omits the portion of the team’s media, ticket and concession revenue that any team playing in the Bronx would get, and also excludes the $26 million that each of the 30 MLB teams took in from broadcasters Fox , TBS and ESPN in 2013.” Earlier this year Forbes valued the Yankees at an estimated $2.5 billion, making them the fourth most valuable sports franchise in the world.

Once again, Yankees led AL in attendance in 2014

For the 12th consecutive season, the Yankees led the American League in attendance in 2014, according to Maury Brown. The Yankees drew 3,401,624 fans this summer, third most in baseball behind the Dodgers (3,782,337) and Cardinals (3,540,649). The Giants (3,368,697) and Angels (3,095,935) were the only other teams to draw 3M+ fans. The Indians (1,437,393) had MLB’s worst attendance.

The Yankees averaged 41,995 fans per game this season, up from 40,489 last year but down from 43,733 from 2012. Brown says total MLB attendance has dropped 1.5% since 2012 and the Yankees are a bit higher than that (3.9%). They averaged 45,839 fans per game during the first three years of the new Yankee Stadium and 42,072 in the three years since. With no Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter farewell tour to prop up attendance, the Yankees could take a big hit next year if the team’s on-field performance doesn’t improve dramatically.

Update: Manfred elected next commissioner of MLB

6:08pm: Manfred has been elected the 10th commissioner in baseball history, according to multiple reports. Bill Shaikin says the final vote was 30-0. Apparently the other eight teams didn’t flip, they just realized they wouldn’t win. Randy Levine told reporters the Yankees were strong Manfred supporters from the start.

5:00pm: Via Jon Heyman: MLB COO Rob Manfred fell one vote short of being elected MLB’s next commissioner at the quarterly owners’ meetings today. He received 22 of 30 votes with the other eight going to Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. MLB executive Tim Brosnan voluntarily dropped out of the running earlier today. Bud Selig is retiring in January.

The owners are currently working to resolve the situation, according to Heyman. The Yankees were said to be supporting Manfred due to his relationship with the players’ union. Werner is considered an old school type who is likely to attempt to strong-arm the union into getting a favorable deal for the owners when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2016 season. That would greatly increase the chances of a work stoppage. Selig has made it clear he wants Manfred to replace him, but it appears there is still some politicking to be done.

Davidoff: Yankees likely to support Rob Manfred for next commissioner

Via Ken Davidoff: The Yankees are likely to support MLB COO Rob Manfred as baseball’s next commissioner. Manfred is up for the job along with MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. Richard Sandomir and Michael Schmidt note Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg were also interviewed for the job but not nominated. Manfred and Werner are considered the favorites with Brosnan lagging behind.

Davidoff says the Yankees figure to support Manfred because of his relationship with the players’ union and the belief that he’ll be able to keep both big and small market teams happy going forward. Manfred spearheaded MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis and testified against Alex Rodriguez during his appeal, though I highly doubt that has anything to do with the team’s willingness to support him. Supporting Manfred is all about what Yankees ownership believes is best for their billions of dollars, not a grudge against A-Rod.

The owners will vote on the next commissioner this Thursday at the quarterly meetings, and a candidate needs 23 of 30 votes to be elected. There’s a chance no one will be elected on Thursday and the search for Bud Selig’s replacement will continue for another few weeks. Selig is retiring in January.