In the offseason you hear a lot of baseball writers talk about how so-and-so team will have to pay more to get a given free agent than thusandsuch team due to the disparity in taxes between the teams’ states.
I often mock this sort of thing, however mildly, because I can’t think of a single instance in which a player or an agent has publicly said that taxes played into their decision regarding where to go. And, maybe more to the point, the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels — all teams playing in high tax locations — have never struggled to sign free agents.
But Brian Sabean, talking to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, says it’s a factor:
In one of Sabean’s more interesting comments, he offered a bit more insight into why he does not pursue more of the high-ticket free agents.
“To entice a free agent to come to San Francisco, we’re almost in an overpay situation, so why get involved in all those battles where you’re not going to be able to go up the totem pole money-wise?” Sabean said.
When asked to elaborate on why the Giants have to overpay, Sabean said, “You’ve got the state of California taxes.” . . . Asked if the high California income tax has been a problem for a while, Sabean said, “To a certain extent. Things now are getting more and more about the signing bonus, more and more about your take-home. Exponentially, when you get involved in some of those numbers, it makes a sizable difference to some.”
We don’t know enough about the offers rejected by given free agents to know how much, if at all, the Dodgers, Angles, Yankees and Red Sox have overpaid to compensate. But at least one GM is suggesting that they do.