We see a lot of interesting reports at this time of the year, but this one made me chuckle a little bit:
What a concept. It’s easier said than done, of course, especially with the lack of options available on the free agent market. Most of the big bats have already signed — the latest being Nelson Cruz today — which leaves an underwhelming field highlighted by the likes of Chase Headley, Melky Cabrera, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, Colby Rasmus, Jed Lowrie, Torii Hunter, and Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s not like we’d expect the Padres to spend big money anyway, so the trade market is likely where they’ll turn. The Braves are reportedly dangling Justin Upton and Evan Gattis while the Red Sox appear willing to deal Yoenis Cespedes, so there are options out there.
The Padres were fourth in the majors with a 3.27 ERA this past season, so it’s not hard to imagine them as a sleeper team if they get an infusion of offense. But new general manager A.J. Preller really has his work cut out for him here. The Padres were last in the majors in nearly every major offensive category in 2014. It’s hard to move the needle significantly in one offseason.
We’ve heard the back and forth between players and owners on money, on safety, on the size and the shape of the season. But not until now have we heard just how little baseball Major League Baseball and its owners actually want: 48 games.
That’s all they want, at least if they have to, as agreed, pay players their prorated salaries on a per-game basis. That’s the report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who writes this morning on the state of the current negotiations.
Passan’s article has a lot more than that. It contains a number of financial calculations about how much teams say they stand to lose per game played under any given scenario. That said, given the near total opacity when it comes to owner finances, we have no real way to evaluate the claims. The players have a bit more access to league financials, but even they are reported to be unsatisfied with what the owners have shared in that regard. So, while interesting, nothing Passan presents there is really convincing. It stakes out the positions of the parties but doesn’t really tell us much about the merits.
Which is to say that a 48-game schedule sounds like either (a) a bluff aimed at getting the players to offer financial concessions; or (b) a declaration from the owners that they’d prefer almost no baseball if it means that they have to lose any money. The whole “we’ll happily take the benefits of a good market but won’t bother if there’s a chance we might lose money” approach I’ve lambasted in this space before.
We’ll see soon which it is.