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.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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