So Long And Thanks For All The Rings!

Former San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval just signed with the Boston Red Sox for a ton of money.

Sandoval, who won three rings in five years with the Giants, cited the need “for a new challenge” leaving unsaid that he was basically taking the money and running.

This reminds me a little of the off-season of 2011, after the Cards win the championship. Albert Pujols, fresh off winning that ring, headed west to join the Angels.

It makes me wonder if there is such a thing as a life long player for a specific team anymore. Yes we have the recent memories of Chipper Jones, Tony Gwynn, and this year, Paul Konerko, but increasingly it has become rarer and rarer.

Why? Players go where they get the most money and the most years. It has gotten to the point that these guys will never be able to spend all the money they’re making, not that it matters. Salary is a form of prestige in baseball like anywhere else.

(And while I didn’t mention Giancarlo Stanton‘s huge contract as he wasn’t a free agent, it will be used as a comparison point for future contracts, as will other big contracts, like Clayton Kershaws.)

It seems to me that the only way to stop all of these escalating salaries is the one thing the players union will probably never allow: A hard salary cap. Think about it – right now we have two teams (the Yankees and the Red Sox) with the ability to spend their way to a title, with a third team (the Dodgers) having the financial capability to do so as well, but with a new brain trust, so we’re not sure about them yet. They’ll probably spend in the end. (And yes I realize the Yankees are struggling right now, but give them time.)

Here is a list of the total money spent by each team on the 2014 season.

The Dodgers spent the most at over 242 Million, while the Marlins spent the least at 50.5 Million, so a wild variance there. Our Cardinals spent roughly 128 Million.

What needs to happen is for a little perspective to be shown. When  league proposes a hard cap, the union recoils and a stoppage results, the following people need to be called to the stand by the league: A high school teacher, a police officer and a respected doctor. When it’s shown that none of these guys make a fraction of what an all hit no field shortstop (Hanley Ramirez) makes to play a game (which, due to injuries, he hadn’t played a full season of in the past few years) maybe a little perspective will finally enter the union’s heads.

And it’s not like a hard cap will be low. I imagine it’ll start around 160 to 180 million and go from there, and I’m probably being conservative. (According to the data, only six teams spent more that 160 Million in 2014, and only two spent more than 180 Million)

If a a hard cap isn’t implemented, I predict the rich teams will willingly pay the luxury tax while the poor teams will continue to struggle find ways to stay competitive.

And yes, I realize that this year’s World Series was played partly by a team with a relatively low budget in the Royals. If I remember correctly though, their opponents, the Giants, had the seventh highest payroll, so they weren’t exactly tightwads. (Actually I was wrong. As the link above shows, they were *THIRD* in 2014)

Both of these teams lost or are losing key players: Sandoval, James Shields, Billy Butler (who admittedly had a poor season) among others.

The Giants are run by one of the best GMs in the game in Brian Sabean while KC still has most of its key players already under contract for next year. Imagine if KC’s young fireballer Yordano Ventura was a free agent though: he’d be too costly for the Royals. And once other players on the Royals like Wade Davis, Greg Holland and others enter their free agency years, chances are the Royals won’t be able to keep them as teams with money to spend will swoop in. I hope I’m wrong.

A hard salary cap won’t solve everything, but it’d be a good start, and the union could counter with things like a salary floor, which would help prevent teams from totally tanking. After all, that’s no fun either.

Anyways just some food for thought this thanksgiving week. Hope everyone has a good time tomorrow and the rest of the week!

As always thanks for reading.

  • Carl November 26, 2014, 1:18 pm

    It is a huge disparity and I agree that it is way out of hand but then I remember that it’s only a sport. If I don’t like it then I need to stop paying my MLB subscription but I love watching Cardinal baseball. If the sport is flush with cash then they can afford to pay players a lot of money and the small markets just need to be smarter with their money and draft better.

  • JonDoble November 26, 2014, 1:26 pm

    I don’t foresee teachers and police officers standing against a union. Also, baseball players make far more money for their employers than teachers and police officers do. It’s also worth noting that as a percentage of the league’s revenue, baseball players get the smallest amount of any of the major sports by far. NFL, NHL, and NBA all pay their players a larger share of revenue than the MLB does.

    One of the best things the NFL has really done is the amount of revenue sharing they’ve done to equalize teams’ abilities to pay players. If Manfred can make strides in that direction I think baseball will be far better off, but that would require all 30 owners seeing the bigger picture and playing the long game instead of greedily pursuing their own short term profits.

    And as I always say, if you think teachers, police officers, and other public servants are underpaid, please call your local government representatives and ask them to raise your taxes so that these employees can get the pay they deserve. I’ve yet to find someone to make that phone call.

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