Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says “word is” the Dodgers may try for “another big free-agent starter.”
And it’s pretty easy to believe those whispers.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Dodgers have $210.1 million in salary commitments for 2013 and will pay another $22 million in luxury tax (for a total sum of $233+ million). But their new 25-year local television contract with FOX Sports West is going to bring in over $240 million per season and so they’re still — as amazing as it might sound — operating with great comfort financially.
The Cardinals, for comparison, make under $30 million annually from their television rights deal with FOX Sports Midwest, which is locked in through 2017. Their player payroll in 2012 was just over $110 million.
The Dodgers could sign Anibal Sanchez, or Kyle Lohse, or finally work out an agreement with Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin, knowing full well that the club will still be highly profitable. Big national television money is coming, and Dodger Stadium hosts three million fans practically very summer. Then there’s the high-dollar revenue from things like merchandise, concessions and parking.
Handing a record-breaking free agent contract to a guy who’s not even an ace seems crazy, but it simply isn’t for the Dodgers. And they’re not done yet.
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?