Today is deadline day for the Cubs and the Red Sox to come to an agreement on compensation for the latter allowing Epstein out of his contract to join the former. As Pete Abe reports in the Globe, there has been no real progress and it looks as though it will all be thrown into Bud Selig’s lap for resolution.
Which I have to assume is what everyone involved wants. The sort of negotiation going on there has to be awkward. Think about it: the team who was — for lack of a better term — jilted is in the position of arguing how valuable Epstein was and the team who desperately wanted him and paid big money for him arguing that, nah, he’s not worth a ton. Better to let Selig decide.
I would love to see his ruling be a crazy one: the Sox have to give John Lackey to the Cubs and the Cubs have to give Alfonso Soriano and $11.75 million to the Red Sox. The money would even out then, each would be stuck with a near-useless player and it would have the added poetry of making each team wear a scarlet “A” to memorialize their asinine free agent signing.
Sadly, I don’t think Bud has the flair for that kind of literary justice.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?