Report: MLB could tax low-spending clubs

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This tweet comes from Jayson Stark, who has done a great job of covering the soon-to-be-announced CBA for ESPN.com:

There have been lots of rumblings there will also be a tax on teams that spend too little on big-league payroll. Looking forward to details

There are none of those available yet, so what kind of floor is being talked about is unclear. In 2011, one team opened with a sub-$40 million payroll (Kansas City), while four more came in at under $50 million (Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland).

On the one hand, it certainly seems like a good idea for MLB to try to do something to prevent teams with super-low payrolls from making a profit based mostly on revenue-sharing funds. But one would think actually withholding those revenue-sharing funds in certain cases would make more sense than a tax.

But perhaps the best way for the league to do this would be to base things on total expenditures and not big-league payroll. Much to their credit, teams like the Royals and Pirates have been spending big in the draft in recent years, something that makes much more sense for them than bringing in an extra big-league veteran or two. However, with MLB’s new attempt to curb draft spending, there probably won’t be as much variance between the teams in that category than there has been in the recent past.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.