The Tampa Bay Rays have had one of the least lucrative television deals among major league teams over the past decade. Their current deal, signed in 2009, has typically paid them $20-30 million per year. Due to that and due to poor attendance, the Rays have claimed that they have had no choice but to carry some of the lowest payrolls in baseball year-by-year.
John Ourand and Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily report, however, that the Rays will soon see their TV revenues increase dramatically due to them nearing a long-term extension with Fox Sports Net. The deal, which will pay them $50 million in 2019, will gradually increase to an average of $82 million a year over the course of a 16-year term. Ourand and Kaplan say that the Rays are currently slated to receive close to $35 million this season, the last one under the old deal.
The Rays, as we have noted at some length in recent days, have made a series of moves that appear to be set in motion by the need to cut or, at the very least, maintain current payroll, shedding arbitration-eligible players and avoiding even moderately expensive free agents. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue that course going forward.
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.
One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.
“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.
Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.
Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.
Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.