Frank McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodgers for $430 million in 2004. Then he chopped his team up, poured kerosene all over it, torched it, and then peed on it while the flames rose higher and higher and he still realized a 500% appreciation of his asset in less than eight years.
Bernie Madoff was inventing investment returns from whole cloth and even he didn’t have the guts to do that. Would have been far too ridiculous. Meth dealers don’t get that kind of return. Maybe the cash doesn’t flow in as much as some owners would like, but they are all sitting on crazy-appreciating assets. Owning a baseball team is a license to print money, even if you haven’t a clue of what you’re doing.
So I guess what I’m saying is, the next time you hear the owner of a major league baseball team cry poor, the next time you hear an owner say that they can’t sign that player everyone likes, the next time you hear an owner say that the taxpayers need to give him a publicly-funded ballpark or else the world will end, please remember the $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers and kindly call b.s. on that noise.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.