A couple of years ago I wrote an article on how the Dodgers were going to change the way the MLB operates. I may be proven right this fall.
4 of the top 5 clubs were alive in the LDS round
1. LA Dodgers $240.7 MIL
2. NY Yankees $227 MIL
3. SF Giants – $172.4 MIL
4. Detroit Tigers – $170.5 MIL
5. LA Angels – $170.5 MIL
The Nationals are 8th at $141.6 MIL, the Cards are at an ALL – Time High paid for a year in 11th – with $128.1 (still more than $17 MIL higher than any other NL Central franchise.
The Baltimore Orioles are at roughly $109 MIL, and right in the middle of the pack at 15th.
Kansas City is sitting at 20th. with an overall salary of about $95 MIL.
The ousted Wild Card teams of Oakland (21st at $94 MIL), and Pittsburgh ($72.9 MIL) rounded out the playoff squads.
Unless KC wins the World Series, it would mark another campaign a team in the top half won the World Series.
I am all for parity, and adding the two Wild Card teams have certainly opened up the playoffs to all teams that make the postseason, but it is still not a conducive way to run a business.
The LA Dodgers, who face the Cardinals tonight in the LDS, have spent more than $112 MIL than the defending NL Champs.
Some of the guys were acquired during trade, with Greinke and Wilson being the only Free Agent deals, however the other players were virtual cash dumps from other franchises.
So why I am bringing this up? Simply like I stated 2 years ago, the Dodgers are operating smartly on taking advantage of the Luxury Tax Threshold.
Last year, they only had to pay about $7 MIL in penalties, on a 1st time offender of the system, rolling out a $236 MIL squad with a 12.5% offense charge on 58 MIL spent over the $178 MIL limit.
For those keeping score at home that is $50 x 12.5% or about $6.3 MIL.
In 2014, the limit has been raised to $189 MIL, and the organization has doled out $240 MIL. At a 2nd time offender (30%), this will run them an additional $17 MIL or so, but that is not exactly a deterrent.
The Guggenheim Consortium (managed my Magic Johnson), can draw 56K per contest at Dodger Stadium, and have signed the best TV deal for a team in MLB history.
The Yankees, who were stupid enough to not fall under the salary threshold, to qualify for a reset on their penalty, are now stuck with an added bill of about $19 MIL for the 2014 season.
As abusers of the Tax ongoing for every year of the latest CBA, they pay 50% of the cash over the limit.
Alex Rodriguez, comes back on the board with his $27 MIL Annual Average Value of his contract, plus any bonus incentive he hits in his contract towards legacy HRs.
New York has $170 MIL committed to about 14 players next year, and are up the creek without a paddle, and will continue to pay that penalty every year.
They could have reset, and then had a $300 MIL payroll in 2015, with what would only amount to about a $14 MIL penalty.
One of the franchises will take this to the next extreme if not stopped when the new CBA is bargained after the 2016 season.
The Dodgers winning the Fall Classic will start an outcry of fans not cheering for the team, and similarly to the New York Yankees winning the titles in the early part of the millennium, it will leave some fanbases devastated. Thus creating a better chance of making sure the new CBA has stricter enforcement on team spending limits.
The Giants have already been caught in the web of competing with the Dodgers. San Fran won its 1st title since it moved to the Bay, with about a 1/3rd of the payroll it currently possesses.
Like the Dodgers, they do have some homegrown players. but have definitely added in Free Agency/salary dumps.
Teams like the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and Arizona Padres have the toughest challenge ahead of them usurping these two behemoth clubs.
The Angels are skipping right up to the upper portion of not paying Luxury Tax Penalties, but they won’t be able to fight off the escalation once Mike Trout‘s new deal kicks in for next year.
The Halo’s needed to cash in on the World Series this campaign, or need a plethora of inexpensive talent to keep surrounding Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Trout and pitchers C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver. past this year.
Arte Moreno’s franchise will be like this year’s version of the Yankees in a year or 2.
Washington has the majority of their guys under contract for the next 2 years or so, but it will soon find themselves unable to sign guys, for fear of heading towards the cap.
The Detroit Tigers have won 4 straight Division Titles and may go to the ALCS for the 4th straight campaign during 2014. They have lapped the AL Central in Spending.
The closest squad to them is KC at $94 MIL, which is almost half of what the “Motown Boys” are shelling out on player contracts this year.
Yes, they will be leveled off a little by losing Max Scherzer and/or Victor Martinez beyond this year, but who else thinks they won’t be the favorites to win the Division again next year? Especially since the Royals will lose James Shields.
Baltimore has done the best job of constructing their team based on their payroll. It all has coincided since the arrival of Buck Showalter, but the management deserves some credit for some brilliant trades.
Like Pittsburgh, Washington and KC though, this team was bad for about a decade, prior to them starting to win.
Piling up high draft picks will eventually make you a competing organization again.
It is what the Twins, Cubs, Marlins and Astros are trying to do right now. This is another reason why you have to respect what Billy Beane has done.
The A’s have not had bad teams from 2000 – until now. Sure they struggled from 2007 – 2011, yet they never finished with less than 74 wins.
Minnesota used a brutal 1993 – 2000 stretch to be one of the better teams in the 2001 – 2010 decade. The Rays never had a winning season until year 10 in 2008, as they finally became great by continuous high picks.
The Dodgers could have been doing this spending thing years ago, if it weren’t for inept ownership.. The same kind of men at the helm as currently preside over the Mets franchise.
One thing spending money does – is it almost ensured you never have a bad year record wise. The Bronx Bombers have not had less than 84 wins since the 1992 year. Each campaign they have practically led in payroll.
Again, some clubs have been brutally managed lately like the Phillies. But they still has 11 straight years of winning,until the last 2 years have blown.
Boston has bookended their World Series with last place finishes in the AL East, but maybe prepping up for another title run, and will have the means to go for it financially, without any recourse.
I give it to them, they have shed cash at the end of the 2012 and 2014 years, which has given them payroll flexibility to reload again. Boston has already shored up it’s OF for 2015, with Yoenis Cespedes Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig.
Before the Trade Deadline, each one of BoSox players beyond the grass, failed to have 500 AB in the year, and were never on that kind of pace.
You can bet your bottom dollar they will sign 2 significant Starting Pitchers as well.
If Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels would have met in the ALCS, and the Giants had locked horns with the Dodgers in the NLCS, this would have seen the #1, #3, #4 and #5 payrolls of the MLB in the FINAL FOUR.
Part of me hopes for this, so we can stop having those people brisking at the brilliance of “MLB Parity”.
You really can’t point to playoff spots as being an “I told you the MLB is competitive card.”
All you have to do is look at the Division Winners.. The Dodgers, Tigers, Angels and Nationals were in the top 8, and again, the RedBirds had the highest NL Central payroll.
if you took the Dodgers out of the NL West, and switched them with the Oakland A’s in the AL West, the Giants would have won the NL West.
Baltimore is the outlier with the 15th spot in team salary.
If the Dodgers win the title this season, it marks a 26 year drought coming to an end, but it may pave the way for financial culture change in the near future.
Many enough of the fans and teams will protest about the inequalities in the cabbage paid out in the high markets, as opposed to the low market teams.
I highly doubt the MLB would implement any form of a salary cap. Major League Baseball is the only entity out of the 4 big sports (NFL, NBA and NHL) that doesn’t have a limit on team spending to ensure cost certainty.
Heck, the brass in New York haven’t even balked at the Marlins and Astros peddling out 4A Rosters and Payrolls at certain points over the last few seasons. Someone is asleep at the wheel, while Allan ‘Bud’ Selig is retiring.
Join us back for Part 2 being written shortly. This one entitled “Why Kansas City or Baltimore winning the World Series would be good and bad for baseball”.
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