Bud Selig, currently trying to crack down on the few hundred thousand paid out here and there to poor kids from the Dominican Republic, is now apparently trying to eliminate the pension plan which covers non-uniformed personnel such as trainers, administrative staff and other front office employees. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports:
Major League Baseball owners, despite boasting $8 billion in annual revenue and climbing, are moving toward eliminating the pension plans of all personnel not wearing big league uniforms, sources told ESPNNewYork.com … The impact would affect much of the Major League Baseball family: front-office executives, trainers, minor league staff and scouts. Some of those personnel, particularly on the minor league level and in amateur scouting, make less than $40,000 a year and rely on pensions in retirement.
There was an effort to do this last year but Jerry Reinsdorf — who has long treated his employees well — talked his fellow owners out of it. Now, Rubin reports, a majority of owners supports abolishing the pension plan. Contributions to pension plans of those already vested in the system would be protected but there would be no future contributions made by teams and new employees would get bupkis.
Major League Baseball is swimming in money. The people who choose to work in front offices often do so at great financial sacrifice in order to be involved in a business they love. To eliminate pension plans like this is shameful. Shameful and greedy. And Major League Baseball ought to be ashamed of itself if it carries out this plan.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?