Sport MLB owners seem to want more money in their pockets, not those of players

22:25  11 january  2018
22:25  11 january  2018 Source:   Sporting News

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Teams are seemingly trying to force a freeze-out of free agents until their asking prices drop, allowing teams to spend less on players and pocket more money , and it may not be a coincidence that so many of them adopted the strategy at the same time.

the advent of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), players realized they could make more money in a free market economy and they fought for free there is a risk of owners lining their own pockets to compensate for the debt they take on in order. to purchase a MLB club.

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Doldrums. A dry spell. A brain-melting and frustrating period of incredible boredom. Whatever words or turn of phrase you use to describe the current state of the baseball offseason, you’re right. We’re in a haze of offseason monotony punctuated only by the occasional reliever deciding to join the Colorado bullpen. The hot stove has gone cold.

It’s not by accident. Teams are seemingly trying to force a freeze-out of free agents until their asking prices drop, allowing teams to spend less on players and pocket more money, and it may not be a coincidence that so many of them adopted the strategy at the same time.

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (perhaps inadvertently) hinted toward it in the opening of a recent article about the number of Scott Boras clients still on the market when he said that teams have adopted a “newfound strategy of slow-playing the market to force players into accepting lesser deals.” The general baseball public has figured that this has been happening for a while, so it’s intriguing to see it in writing. There are a few ways that many teams can arrive at the same course of action all at the same time, namely:

— It’s the most obvious way to approach things, and any analyst worth his or her salt would read the market and rules in this way.

— There is an agreement among the teams, unspoken or spoken, to not compete for the premier free agents in the name of depressing their earnings.

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This was no surprise given MLB ’s past: From apocalyptic battles for salary caps to treating many minor leaguers like little more than chattel, team owners have a long history of reaching for every dollar in players ’ pockets . Out of that desire was born the idea to implement (supposedly)

— Some combination of the two.

Let’s give baseball the benefit of the doubt and say there’s no collusion. Why would front offices decide that the best course of action would be to not sign major players until prices dropped? There’s the matter of the newly structured and harsher luxury tax, which has caused behemoths like the Dodgers and Yankees to desperately unload salary, but it’s not as if every team is bumping up against the limit. The faux salary cap (and that’s exactly what it is, a soft salary cap that harshly punishes teams for spending “too much”) is not an issue for many teams.

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There’s the matter of the impending free agency of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to cope with the tax, which is part of why the Dodgers and Yankees have shed money. Yet why should we believe that the usual mid-market pennypinchers are suddenly going to go wild for those players, when the major market juggernauts can theoretically provide just as large a payday while also offering more extracurricular incentives?

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Teams report their revenue-sharing spending to the league , and while the league likely would have And therein lies the primary point of contention: There are many players , union officials and team owners who But Athletics ownership seems to want to point fingers everywhere other than at itself.

That is unless, of course, we want the owners (billionaires, remember, as the players are "only" millionaires) to just pocket all their profits without compensating the talent. The players are the ones earning that money with their incredible talent.

Harper choosing between a small handful of teams should not prevent a club like the Twins, who just pulled off one of the best win-loss record improvements in history, from investing in their roster to reach the next level.

It’s tempting to say that the majority of players on the market this year simply aren’t worth a whole lot of money, that Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are overrated and that teams have wised up with the advent of advanced metrics. These metrics have been at teams’ disposals for years and years, though. Teams didn’t suddenly get “smart.” They’ve been “smart” for a long time. The reality of “bad” contracts didn’t disappear overnight. How quickly we’ve forgotten that the Rockies gave Ian Desmond $70 million to play first base just a winter ago, or that Mark Trumbo got $37.5 million off a fluke year. If we’re going to accept the actions of the free market as gospel, then the free market must’ve undergone a radical philosophical shift.

Or did it?

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We want to imagine sports teams as wholesome entities doing their very best to put together a bunch of scrappy players to form a cohesive group led by a coach played in the movie adaptation of their story by Gene Hackman, but they’re cold-blooded businesses just like every other multi-billion dollar industry.

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Keep some money in your pocket with these tweaks. Every time you want to buy something, think to yourself “How much time would I need to work to pay for this?” It might not seem like it, but didn’t it take effort to give up that sweet pick-me-up?

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Teams are assets owned by owners, who like to use their assets to create massive profits. Players are pretty much the biggest expenditure in the industry now that the costs of stadiums can be passed off to taxpayers. What creates a bigger profit: Signing J.D. Martinez for $120 million in early December, or for $85 million in February? What creates a bigger profit: Throwing $13 million at Todd Frazier or Addison Reed, or giving those jobs to minimum-salary players who can be easily shuttled off to Triple-A if needed?

Given the highly specialized nature of the 25 roster spots and heightened emphasis on flexibility in today’s game, it’s easy to sell that it makes more sense for teams to grow their own three-true-outcome players and fireballing relievers. Players are hitting for more power than ever because of training techniques and the juiced ball, and pitchers are throwing harder than ever. It’s easy to value the cost-controlled player with options and no track record over the veteran free agent in an efficiency-obsessed analytics culture, especially once the business component is considered.

As for players like Martinez and Yu Darvish? It’s good business to depress their earnings by making them desperate for jobs. So why wasn’t this happening before now? As Ben Diamond so effectively displayed at Baseball Prospectus, this is the most inactive start to an offseason in recent memory. If this is going to save teams so much money, why haven’t they been doing this for years? Why hasn’t a team swooped in to take advantage of the doldrums to sign players better than Wade Davis, Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart? We won’t get into the dead-end logic and philosophy of dollars spent per WAR here, but there is great value in having what other teams do not when that thing is good talent.

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There’s been the running excuse of non-free agents holding up the market. We have to see who signs Shohei Ohtani, who trades for Giancarlo Stanton, who trades for Marcell Ozuna, who gets Gerrit Cole, whether the Rays are going to move Chris Archer now that they’ve shipped out Evan Longoria. There’s always something holding it all up. But not all the contending teams have the prospects to go after those sorts of players, and would be better served by spending on free agents. It hasn’t happened.

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I am not an insider. I don’t have front-office worker phone numbers stuffing my contacts book, and even if I did I couldn’t tell you whether those sorts of sources would admit to a conversation about a coordinated effort to freeze out the market, if such a conversation took place. But if a team is really in the business of trying to win ballgames, would now not be the best time to strike? It’s been that time for a while now, and there’s been almost no action.

It’s not as if there’s no precedent for collusion in baseball, as Marc Normandin ran down very well at SB Nation. It’s happened before, and it may be happening now. Teams created some cover for themselves when they got the players’ union to agree to the new collective bargaining agreement that created the much more stringent luxury tax. They gave themselves more reasons to not spend money. The timing of Harper and Machado becoming free agents next winter gives teams even more excuses.

The union is weaker than it has been in recent years. It allowed the implementation of a soft salary cap, and is partially responsible for the current situation. There is a real possibility that multiple well-known players will be jobless by the time spring training begins, to say nothing of the many lesser veterans who will be left out in the cold. The MLBPA has failed these members.

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Note that the latest CBA seems to have finally had enough impact that the players ' line is below the MLB line for the first time since 1998. A full salary cap would guarantee it stayed below or on the trend line. Hence why the owners - who are almost all businessmen who want to run a successful business

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Baseball is not hard up for cash. TV network payouts are only going up, and every team just received a sizable lump sum of cash as a result of Disney’s investment in MLB Advanced Media. If anything, old standards tell us that there should have been a feeding frenzy this winter. A roster composed of just the remaining free agents could almost surely contend with the better teams in the league right now. Why wouldn’t teams want to compete for players of that quality?

We can’t say with absolute certainty that teams are colluding to lower player earnings in the name of larger profits. It could just be that the teams have decided through cold calculation that they’re better served waiting for prices to drop, in the name of maximizing revenue and minimizing risk. Perhaps those calculations led to a dialogue that fostered collusion, perhaps not.

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No matter the answer, the result is incredibly bad for players, and bad for baseball. Teams are purposefully avoiding getting better in the name of saving money. The top players will likely eventually find jobs, but at much lower salaries than they deserve. Ownership and efficiency-crazed management have hijacked the market and wrested it away from the labor side of the game.

Perhaps it is unreasonable to want ownership to put the interest of fans ahead of their own financial game while baseball exists within a capitalist structure, but it has been some time since the entire sport has been so blatant about it. Making a team efficient and effective doesn’t necessarily have to entail actively working against the labor that fuels the sport to keep incredibly rich old men from spending too much of their money.

It's not necessary for teams to collude to arrive at an especially cynical way of increasing profit and lowering spending. It would simply make it much easier and effective. If the current free agency situation isn’t the result of collusion, one shudders to think what actual collusion would look like.

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Scott Boras Refuses to Take Blame for Slow Free Agent Market .
​Super agent Scott Boras has many of the biggest names on the free agent market as clients. He's the best in the business, and he won't quit until he makes his players big money. With the MLB offseason moving slowly, ​many believe Boras is to blame. His unbelievably high asking prices make it difficult for teams and players to agree, and there is stagnation.However, Boras refuses to take the blame for the slow free agent market. He says he's asking for exactly what owners have paid in the past. He claims now, they're just not paying.many see scott boras as the key man to break this free agent logjam.

Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/sports/-112152-mlb-owners-seem-to-want-more-money-in-their-pockets-not-those-of-players/

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