Report: the Dodgers got a sweetheart deal limiting their revenue sharing liability

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UPDATE:  It seems this was not really news, despite Bloomberg’s reporting it as such.  Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported this back in May.  We missed it then.  Apologies to the Times.

5:40 PMIf this report from John Helyar of Bloomberg is true, whoa, MLB is going to have A LOT of explaining to do to, well, every team that is not the Los Angeles Dodgers:

The Los Angeles Dodgers have shot out of bankruptcy and into the ranks of baseball’s biggest spenders, fueled partly by a secret agreement between former owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball that may limit the revenue the team is obliged to share with less prosperous clubs.

A settlement ending their 2011 battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court gives the Dodgers’ new owners a chance to cap income subject to revenue-sharing from a proposed regional sports network at about $84 million a year, according to five people familiar with the confidential “special terms.”

The upshot: the Dodgers — based on assumptions about what their new TV deal will bring them — will be able to hold on to some $141 million a year that they would otherwise have to share with other clubs in the league. That’s because their new deal will bring in far, far more than $84 million a year. Indeed, its estimated that it’ll bring in $175 million to $225 million a year over the 20- year contract.

This would help in part to explain the massive sales price of the team, as the biggest financial hurdle a large market/revenue team faces is its revenue sharing obligations.

Major League Baseball Executive Vice President Rob Manfred pushes back against this, saying that the revenue sharing figures will be based on the actual TV revenue the Dodgers receive.  Which … seems like a direct contradiction of the whole story.  So, I’m not sure what’s going on here.  Bloomberg is obviously reporting, based on several sources, that there is a deal to cap revenue-sharing eligible TV money. Manfred’s words suggests that’s not the case.

Any help here, anyone?

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉