That according to SportsBusiness Daily, which surveyed oodles of sports business professionals. The list ended up breaking down thusly:
1. Derek Jeter
2. Albert Pujols
3. Joe Mauer
4. Stephen Strasburg
5. Ryan Howard
6. Evan Longoria
7. Tim Lincecum
8. David Wright
9. Alex Rodriguez
10. Dustin Pedroia/Torii Hunter
I’ll accept that list at face value, but I can’t help but think that determining which baseball players are the most “marketable” is not unlike determining which the best football team in Alaska. Maybe it’s important locally, but the winner of the poll is not exactly a national power in that particular arena.
The key concept here is “local,” which baseball has truly become. This is not a bad thing. Regional sports networks have been the engines that have shot baseball’s revenues up to the $7 billion range and which have have primed the pump that has led to labor peace for a very long time. And of course, if you ask any executive at a Silicon Valley or national media company they’ll tell you: local is where it’s at, baby.
But it does mean that baseball players really don’t rate as national ad men anymore. Beyond the outliers like Jeter and some blips here and there by guys like Ryan Howard, ballplayers aren’t nationally recognizable. Some that are have achieved that status by being more notorious than by being whatever it takes to be a good pitchman (see Rodriguez, Alex). If you had to launch a big product with an athlete as your pitchman, you’d go to the NFL(exclusively national platform) or the NBA (way more recognizable and demographically-friendly stars) before baseball every time. You’d probably hit golf and UFC figures before baseball players too.
Which doesn’t really bother me. I like my ballplayers playing ball. Not shilling for Mr. Coffee or whatever.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.