Yankees announce new ticket partnership with StubHub

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today, the Yankees officially announced a new multi-year agreement with StubHub, making them the team’s official ticket resale marketplace. Yankees Ticket Exchange? That’s gone. Fans have to go through StubHub now. The new system will be operational by July 7th. Here’s the press release.

“We are committed to providing our fans with a first-class ticket experience, and offering the safest, most secure and efficient platform for our fans to sell and purchase tickets,” said team president Randy Levine in a statement. “This new product was the result of many productive discussions with StubHub, which will allow them to fully integrate into our ticket system. We are confident this collaboration will best protect our fans in the resale ticket marketplace.”

Two important details. One, this covers mobile tickets only. You still can’t print your ticket at home, so if your phone dies or you’re not that tech savvy, you’re pretty much out of luck. Mobile tickets and hard stock tickets are still the only way to get into the ballpark. Two, the price floor is set at 50 percent of the full season ticket plan price. Don’t expect any super deep discounts.

Make no mistake, this deal is not about fighting ticket fraud or making sure fans get a good deal when they resell their tickets. The Yankees agreed to this deal because, as Samantha Pell reports, StubHub is going to pay them roughly $100M from now through the end of 2022. C.R.E.A.M. That’s all there is to it.

Forbes: Yankees most valuable team in baseball at $3.4 billion

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

On Wednesday, Forbes released their annual MLB franchise valuations, and for the 19th season in a row, the Yankees are the most valuable franchise in the sport. They’re worth at least $3.4 billion. The Dodgers are a very distant second at $2.5 billion. That’s some gap, huh? The Red Sox are third at $2.3 billion. The Giants and Cubs are the only other clubs over $2 billion.

That $3.4 billion covers only the Yankees and the ballpark. Yankee Global Enterprises, which includes the YES Network and Legends Hospitality, is worth much more. Here’s more from Forbes:

The New York Yankees, worth at least $3.4 billion, have held MLB’s top spot since our first estimation of team values in 1998. That $3.4 billion represents just the enterprise value of the team and its stadium economics. But in reality, a big reason why someone would be willing to pay seven times revenue for the Yankees instead of, say, the MLB average of five times revenue, is the ability to extend the team’s brand, acumen and relationships beyond baseball into ventures such as Legends Hospitality, the YES Network, Major League Soccer and college football (full disclosure: I am co-host of Forbes SportsMoney on the YES Network).

Ancillary businesses are what separate the big boys (teams worth over $2 billion) from their less valuable rivals because MLB’s 30 teams equally share 27% of the league’s overall revenue, versus 65% for the NFL. This is why big market teams with business models that reach beyond the diamond dominate the top of our rankings.

The Yankees generated $516M in revenue last season even after paying out revenue sharing, and again, that’s only the Yankees and the ballpark. Whatever they made from YES and everything else is on top of that. (Non-baseball revenue is not subject to revenue sharing.) The team’s operating income was $13M in 2015.

MLB as a whole is insanely healthy financially. The average team is worth $1.3 billion, an increase of 7% from a year ago, and player costs (salaries, benefits, etc.) totaled $4.4 billion in 2015. The average franchise value has increased 146% over the last five years, which blows my mind. Much of that has to do with all the new massive television deals being handed out. Owning a baseball team is pretty great work if you can it.

The Yankees’ franchise value is up from $3.2 billion last year. They were valued at $2.5 billion in 2014, $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 2014 to 2015 was thanks in part to baseball’s new national television deals, as well as the sale of 80% of YES to News Corp.

The Rays, not the Yankees, appear to be Derek Jeter’s best opportunity to join an ownership group

Derek and Rob go to Cuba. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Derek and Rob go to Cuba. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Earlier this week, Derek Jeter was part of MLB’s contingent in Cuba for the Rays’ exhibition game against the Cuban National Team. Tampa Bay won the game 4-1, though the trip was about much more than that. MLB wanted to make some inroads in Cuba and help grow the youth baseball landscape, and the trip also served a diplomatic purpose as President Obama, who was also on the trip, seeks to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Among the other ex-Yankees to join Jeter in Havana were MLB executive Joe Torre and MLBPA executives Tony Clark and Dave Winfield. During yesterday’s game, Jeter sat down with the ESPN booth for a lengthy interview, and during that interview he reiterated his desire to get back into baseball as an owner.

“I needed to be away from the game for a year,” said Jeter (video link). “I didn’t watch too many games at all — obviously I have a lot of friends that are still playing, so I follow them, I communicate with them, I talk with them — but in terms of sitting down and following the game, I haven’t done it. But I’m going to start doing it again because I’ve always been very vocal about my next goal and desire is to be a part of an ownership, so I have to start paying attention.”

The Cap’n joked he doesn’t have the money to be considered for an ownership group — “Do you know much these teams cost?” he said — and added he is very early in the process of getting his foot in the ownership door. “The first step is sitting next to (commissioner Rob Manfred). I’m trying to get on his good side and hopefully get that opportunity,” added Jeter.

Jeter first acknowledging owning a team is “the next goal” back in June 2014, when he was still playing. I’ve always sorta assumed that when the time did come, the Steinbrenners would allow Jeter to purchase a chunk of the Yankees, but it’s not really that simple. First and foremost, the Steinbrenners say they aren’t selling the team, and it seems unlikely Derek would have much control with the Yankees. Does Jeter seem like the type to settle for being a figurehead owner? Nah. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) has more:

After it was announced that Jeter would be part of Major League Baseball’s entourage to Cuba, there was a fair amount of buzz within the industry that this might be the latest indication that Jeter will eventually but inevitably join the Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership group.

Two MLB sources say they have not heard anything substantive about a Jeter-Rays link, so for now this appears to be a rumor without substance. But the speculation makes sense in some ways: Jeter lives in Tampa, and he would be a perfect agent for change whenever the Rays reach a turning point in their ballpark situation, in the way that Magic Johnson was the right guy to be part of the Dodgers’ new ownership group in L.A. Jeter carries star power and credibility, of course, which will only grow once he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s easy to envision Jeter having power as a lobbyist for a team looking for a new ballpark situation.

The Rays recently received clearance from the City of St. Petersburg to begin looking for ballpark sites in the Tampa area, and they’re currently reviewing sites. This is step one in what figures to be a very long process in getting the Rays a new ballpark. They’ve got to find a site, get approval from all relevant parties, figure out the financing, then design and build the ballpark. That ain’t happening overnight.

The Rays represent the best opportunity for Jeter to get in on the ground floor of something big. It doesn’t seem MLB will be expanding anytime soon, at least not before the Rays get a new ballpark, so this is the best chance to buy into a team and immediately have some impact. Jeter lives in the Tampa area and he could be part of the ballpark process. He could play a major role right away.

Rays owner Stu Sternberg is a New Yorker — he grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in Westchester — so he’s seen Jeter’s star power up close. Sternberg has talked about potentially selling parts or all of the team if they don’t get a new ballpark soon, and letting Jeter in could help the stadium cause. Jeter would certainly add some name recognition to the franchise. Heck, he’d be their popular player as an owner.

It would be weird to see Jeter as part of the ownership group of another club, especially an AL East rival, but it’s not something that is impossible. Not even close. The Yankees and Jeter don’t owe each other anything. He has every right to look for ownership opportunities around the league and the Steinbrenners have every right to run their organization as they see fit. They don’t have to sell him anything.

For now, it seems like we’re a long way away from Jeter buying into a team. Manfred and the owners have to approve any ownership candidate, though I doubt Jeter will have trouble there. It’s just a question of finding the money and finding the right opportunity. Right now, the Rays appear to present more of an opportunity than the Yankees.

Saturday Links: Randolph, Strength of Schedule, Yankees for Sale

(NY Daily News)
(NY Daily News)

The Yankees continue their Grapefruit League season this afternoon with a road game against the Rays. We’ll have a regular game thread up a little closer to first pitch. Until then, here are some random links to help you pass the time.

Randolph still looking for a coaching job

It has now been five years since former Yankee Willie Randolph held a big league coaching job, but as he told Brendan Kuty, he’s still trying to find one. Randolph, who interviewed for the Yankees third base coach job prior to last season, last coached with the Orioles in 2011. He was their bench coach for half the season and their third base coach for the other half. Here’s what Willie told Kuty:

“I let everybody know I’m doing my due diligence,” he told NJ Advance Media in the Yankees’ clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday. “Let everybody know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.”

“What makes it hard to keep it out there is that there’s so much of a change of the guard,” Randolph said. “So many new kids out there, that even if you keep it out there — they know who you are. There are baseball people who are going to know who I am.

“My resume speaks for itself. It wasn’t that long ago when I managed. But there seems to be a comfort zone with some of these cats. I get it. That’s part of the game. It’s who you knows, who might sponsor you, who you’re comfortable with.”

Randolph, now 61, managed the Mets from 2005-08. He was on the Yankees coaching staff from 1994-2004, spending most of his time as the third base coach but also some as Joe Torre’s bench coach. Randolph managed Team USA in the inaugural Premium 12 tournament last fall and he’s currently in Yankees camp as a guest instructor.

Teams are skewing younger with their managers and coaching staffs these days (the Yankees are no exception), so I understand Randolph’s frustration. There’s no way this won’t sound like a knock on Willie, so I’ll just say it: I’m of the belief that if you haven’t coached in five years or managed in eight years, there’s probably a reason why. If a team felt Randolph could be an asset on their field staff, he would have been hired. Teams know him. He’s not flying under the radar or anything.

2016 Strength of Schedule

Each year, Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs calculates each team’s strength of schedule using projections. It’s not perfect — projections themselves are far from perfect, plus rosters change throughout the season — but it’s a nice ballpark number. The Yankees have the second toughest schedule in the AL this year, about a win more difficult than average. That means the Yankees are expected to win one fewer game against their schedule than they would the average schedule. Make sense?

The Orioles have by far the toughest schedule in the league at two wins below average while the Indians have the easiest at a win above average. Most teams are within a half-win of average. The Mets and Nationals have the two easiest schedules in baseball by a huge margin. They’re both at two wins better than average. That’s what happens when you get to play 54 games — exactly one-third of the 162-game schedule — against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins.

MLB submits proposal for new Cuban player signing system

According to Ben Strauss, MLB has submitted a proposal to the Treasury Department outlining a new system that will allow Cuban players to sign directly with big league teams. This would provide a safer path to the big leagues for players since they’d no longer have to defect, and the plan includes a way to raise money to improve youth baseball in Cuba. From Strauss:

Under the proposed plan, according to M.L.B.’s top lawyer, Dan Halem, an entity made up of Cuban entrepreneurs and officials from baseball and its players’ union would be created. A percentage of salaries paid to Cuban players would go to the new body, which would function like a nonprofit organization and support youth baseball, education and the improvement of sports facilities in Cuba.

Because no money would go directly to the Cuban government, the plan could satisfy the embargo. A few months ago President Obama said he intends to normalize relations with Cuba and this could be an important step in that direction. MLB has been working with both the U.S. and Cuban governments behind the scenes to find a way to allow Cuban players to come stateside safely and legally.

The Rays are scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team in Havana on March 22nd. They’ll be the first MLB team to play in Cuba since the Orioles in 1999. Derek Jeter and Joe Torre are among the dignitaries who will be on the trip. Luis Tiant and Jose Cardenal will be there as well.

The Yankees are for sale (kinda)

An unnamed minority owner is selling a 1% share of the Yankees, reports Scott Soshnick. The price? A mere $24M. Documents associated with the sale indicate the team is worth somewhere in the $2.75 billion to $3.25 billion range. That’s the team only. It doesn’t include the YES Network or Legends Hospitality. The Yankees and MLB would have to approve any sale, because duh.

Minority owners sell some or all of their shares all the time, so there’s nothing unusual about this. Hal Steinbrenner recently said the family has no plans to sell the team — they’re actually working on a long-term plan to hand over control to the next generation of Steinbrenners — and this won’t change anything. I have to say, 1% of the Yankees for $24M seems like a pretty good investment given how healthy the game is financially. We should start a Go Fund Me.

League Notes: Pace-of-Play, Strike Zone, London, Revenue Sharing, Security

Changes to the clock may be coming in 2016. (Presswire)
Changes to the clock may be coming in 2016. (Presswire)

With Spring Training approaching and negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement soon to commence, we’re going to start hearing about a lot of league-wide issues in the coming weeks. Last week we learned the trade deadline has been moved back (one day) and that there is some momentum for the DH being adopted in the NL. Here are some more league notes.

More pace-of-play changes coming

According to Joel Sherman, more rule changes to improve pace-of-play are in the works. Nothing is final but MLB and the MLBPA are working towards an agreement. The two sides are discussing two items in particular: speeding up pitching changes and reducing the time between innings. The latter is kind of a big deal because it cuts into commercial time.

In a nutshell, MLB wants managers to walk to the mound and signal for a pitching change more quickly. It’s possible there will be a time limit for making a pitching change. They want to cut down on stall tactics, basically. As for the time between innings, Sherman says the between-innings clock will be reduced from 2:25 to 2:05 for non-nationally televised games. Kinda surprised the league and owners are okay with that.

The average time of game dropped from three hours and two minutes in 2014 to two hours and 56 minutes in 2015 thanks to the new pace-of-play measures. The between-innings clock was installed and batters were forced to keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches. I don’t think pace-of-play is a huge problem, but it can be improved. The goal is to reduce downtime within games and I’m all for it.

MLB investigating whether to raise the strike zone

In an effort to combat the continually dropping strike zone, MLB is investigating whether to raise the bottom of the zone from the bottom of the kneecap to the top of the kneecap, reports Ronald Blum. Jon Roegele’s done some great work in recent years studying the strike zone. The bottom of the zone dropped each year from 2009-14 before leveling off in 2015.

“I’m not in a position to predict whether it’s going to happen or not,” said commissioner Rob Manfred to Blum. “I think that the interest in the topic is really driven by the fact that if you look over time there has been a movement down of the strike zone, largely as a result of the way we evaluate the strike zone with umpires.”

Offense has been declining for years — it did tick up ever so slightly in 2015 — and raising the bottom of the zone slightly could help change that. Not only are more low pitches being called strikes, but hitters have to protect against those pitches now, and it’s really tough to drive a low pitch with authority. Any change in the zone has to be collectively bargained, so if they do makes adjustments, we probably won’t see them until 2017 at the earliest.

MLB looking to play games in London in 2017

The league is currently looking at the possibility of playing regular season games in London during the 2017 season, reports Blum. “We are very interested in playing there, and we’re working hard on that one. I don’t think it will be an opener because of the weather issues. It would be later in the season,” said Manfred. “We haven’t really settled on teams, and I don’t want to speculate about that. Obviously, we want to make as good a first impression in Europe as we possibly can.”

Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 2012 London Olympics, would be the site of potential MLB games. The facility is currently being renovated and will have a seating capacity of 54,000 when it re-opens later this year. In recent years MLB has played regular season games in Japan, Puerto Rico, and Australia, and Manfred has made globalizing the game a priority. And anytime there is talk of playing overseas, there’s the potential for the Yankees to be involved given their immense popularity.

Olympic Stadium in London. (Presswire)
Olympic Stadium in London. (Presswire)

Revenue sharing a contentious topic in CBA talks

The current CBA expires December 1st, and, at the owners’ meetings last week, MLB spent time preparing a bargaining strategy for the revenue sharing system, reports Blum. It’s said to be a contentious issue because several big market teams are not happy with the way small market teams appear to be using their revenue sharing dollars. Negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA about the new CBA have not yet begun. They’re expected to start during Spring Training.

“You try to be creative about how you address their concerns, and you re-emphasize to people that we have a democratic process and we have to move forward as a whole at the end of the day,” said Manfred. “(Revenue sharing) helped produce tremendous competitive balance in our sport, and I think as of a result of those two realizations, it’s less controversial among the clubs than it probably was 20 years ago.”

The Yankees are among the largest contributors to revenue sharing — Forbes says they paid $95M into the system in 2014 — and while the team hasn’t been vocal about their unhappiness with the system, they are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold, which would trigger some revenue sharing rebates. The Marlins are most often cited as a club that receives revenue sharing payments but doesn’t put all the money back into the team.

Homeland Security meets with MLB over safety concerns

During the owners’ meetings last week, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with the owners to discuss ways they can make ballparks even safer, reports Blum. MLB mandated metal detectors at all 30 ballparks last year, which made getting inside a total pain in the ass. “Our space outside the stadium is pretty cramped, but we’re going to do what we’re asked to do,” said Hal Steinbrenner.

Marlins president David Samson told Blum that Johnson informed the owners they could drastically improve security by not allowing fans to bring in bags, eliminating concession workers, checking cars parked in nearby lots, and limiting traffic around the ballpark, all of which is hilariously unrealistic. I understand the concern, I do, but man, I’ve never felt unsafe at a stadium. I don’t want to go to games and feel like I’m at an airport. Thankfully, it doesn’t sound as though any additional security measures will be put in place this coming season.

Saturday Notes: In-Market Streaming, Netting, Martone, Murtaugh

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Here are some stray links and notes related mostly to league-wide matters that affect the Yankees and their fans.

MLB announces in-market streaming deal with FOX

Yesterday afternoon commissioner Rob Manfred announced MLB has agreed to a three-year deal with FOX to provide in-market streaming. It is only available for teams whose games are broadcast by FOX Sports — that’s 15 teams, so half the league — and that does include the Yankees thanks to the YES deal with News Corp. a few years back. This is NOT a cable alternative. You have to subscribe to YES through your cable provider for in-market streaming. It’s better than nothing, I guess. MLB is still working with the other networks on in-market streaming deals.

MLB to recommend new stadium netting regulations

Manfred also announced yesterday that MLB will recommend new stadium netting regulations for the 2016 season. (That’s the netting behind home plate. Duh.) It’s unclear how far the league will ask the netting to be extended but to the dugouts seems reasonable. There were several incidents of foul balls and broken bats injuring fans last year. Not everyone is as lucky as this guy:

“In addition to a recommendation on the physical location of nets, there will be a broad fan education component to the program,” said Manfred to the Associated Press. “A lot of things seem easy and are not always so easy. We want our fans to be safe in the ballpark, but we also have lots of fans who are very vocal about the fact that they don’t like to sit behind nets.”

Martone leaves, Murtaugh joins front office

The front office shuffling continues. Manager of pro scouting Steve Martone, who had been with the Yankees the last nine years, has left the organization to become Billy Eppler’s assistant GM with the Angels, reports Mike DiGiovanna. Martone, 35, was responsible for identifying trade and waiver targets on other clubs. He’ll do something similar with the Angels. No word on how the Yankees will replace Martone.

Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro reports veteran scout Pat Murtaugh recently left the Diamondbacks to join the Yankees’ pro scouting staff. Murtaugh, 56, has been in the scouting game a very long time, and, as Piecoro wrote two years ago, he was the scout who recommended Didi Gregorius to then D’Backs GM Kevin Towers back in the day. The Yankees lost Eric Chavez to the Angels a few weeks ago. Chavez had been working in the pro scouting department.

CBA negotiations to begin early next year

Last week, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told Mark Feinsand Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA are likely to begin early next year, in February or March. The current CBA is set to expire on December 1st, 2016. The qualifying offer and international free agent spending systems figure to get an overhaul, among other things. (We could see an international draft.) MLB has had labor piece for over two decades now. The game is flush with money and I doubt either side wants to mess things up with a work stoppage. I’m hopeful MLB and the union will get a new deal worked out without much of a headache.

MLB minimum salary will not rise in 2016

According to the Associated Press, the Major League minimum salary will remain $507,500 next season due to a lack of inflation. The CBA includes a modified cost-of-living adjustment. The methodology used actually said the minimum salary should be reduced next year, but lol no. The CBA says the minimum salary can only go up, not down. Minimum minor league salaries for players on split contracts are $41,400 for first year players and $82,700 thereafter. Baseball’s good work if you can get it.

Saturday Links: Teixeira, Forbes, Martin, 2017 WBC

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Mets continue the Subway Series a little later this afternoon. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time.

Teixeira named 2016 Roberto Clemente Award nominee

Mark Teixeira has been named the Yankees nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. Each team nominates one player and the winner is determined by fan voting. Here’s the ballot. The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Derek Jeter won it back in 2009. It’s a pretty big deal. The voting ends October 9th. Here’s the ballot again. Go vote for Teixeira.

Forbes ranks Yankees as third most valuable sports franchise

According to the latest Forbes rankings, the Yankees are the third most valuable sports franchise in the world at $3.2 billion. Only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion) and Real Madrid ($3.26 billion) are more valuable. Well, technically the Yankees are tied with the New England Patriots at $3.2 billion, but who cares about them. Forbes valued the Yankees at $3.2 billion back in March — the Dodgers are a distant second among MLB teams at $2.4 billion — and they post their updated MLB franchise valuations during Spring Training each year.

Martin scraps slider for curveball

Earlier this season, righty Chris Martin was higher up on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen depth chart than I think most of us realized, but he struggled for a while and eventually wound up on the DL with an elbow injury. The Yankees sent Martin to Triple-A once he got healthy, and, according to Billy Witz, Martin dropped his slider in favor of a curveball while with the RailRiders.

Martin hasn’t pitched a whole lot this month, so we haven’t seen the new curveball yet. He told Witz he was better able to control his slider, but the curveball gets more swings and misses, and that’s a trade-off he’s willing to make. I’m not sure Martin will be with the Yankees beyond this year — there’s going to be a big 40-man roster crunch this offseason and Martin’s expendable — but he has a new pitch now, and maybe that will help him stick around the big leagues a few more years.

2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers coming to Brooklyn

Earlier this week, MLB announced qualifying games for the 2017 World Baseball Classic are coming to Brooklyn. The four-team pool includes Brazil, Great Britain, Israel, and Pakistan, and they’ll play their round robin tournament from September 22nd to 25th next year at MCU Park in Coney Island. The winner of the pool advances to the 2017 WBC. MCU Park is really great. One of my favorites. This isn’t Yankees-related, but baseball in Brooklyn is still cool. Anyway, here is the full WBC qualifying round information.