We talked about the stuff with Jon Singleton the other day. How he took what will probably end up being a well-below-market value from the Astros. At least well-below market if he becomes a solid everyday player. But hey, given the system, that’s what he felt he had to do in order to abrogate his risk.
But what if he had another option? Like the option D.R. at The Economist suggests: Singleton basically selling bonds to investors backed by future earnings?
The other possibility is a free-market solution from outside baseball: human-capital contracts, in which players would sell a share of their future earnings in exchange for cash up front. Just like the deal Mr Singleton accepted, such arrangements would guarantee athletes’ future financial security regardless of their on-field performance. But rather than having to negotiate with a single team, players could auction off the rights to a given percentage of their wages to the highest bidder, thus securing fair market value for the expected income. They would then be free either to take their chances with salary arbitration on a year-to-year basis, or to demand a far richer extension from their employer.
I’m not an expert in the Collective Bargaining Agreement or MLB rules along these lines, but at first blush I can’t see why this wouldn’t be allowed. It’d be like any other outside investment scenario that is none of baseball’s business, right? Or would someone consider it gambling or something?
I doubt baseball players break ground here — it’s somewhat radical for the sport and it’s the sort of thing that might get you labeled an oddball or egomaniac or something by teammates and the press, but I at least think it’d be legal. Someone let me know if I’m wrong, though.
Either way, it’s pretty cool.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.