Here’s a look at some of the notable signings through November:
- Marlon Byrd (2-years, $16 million, Phillies)
- Dan Haren (1-year, $10 million, Dodgers)
- Tim Hudson (2-years, $23 million, Giants)
- Derek Jeter (1-year, $12 million, Yankees)
- Josh Johnson (1-year, $8 million, Padres)
- Brian McCann (5-years, $85 million, Yankees)
- David Murphy (2-years, $12 million, Indians)
- Ricky Nolasco (4-years, $49 million, Twins)
- Jhonny Peralta (4-years, $52 million, Cardinals)
- Carlos Ruiz (3-years, $26 million, Phillies)
- Jason Vargas (4-years, $32 million, Royals)
- Chris Young (1-year, $7.25 million, Mets)
There are a few things I notice about these deals. For one, that’s a lot of activity for November.
Second, that’s a lot of money going towards weak roles on certain teams. The Indians are spending $6 million to hope David Murphy doesn’t become as insignificant as Drew Stubbs. The Mets are investing $7.25 million in Chris Young, as in the formerly decent hitter. The Yankees are bringing Derek Jeter back for the same of bringing him back…at $12 million. And don’t even get me started on the Phillies.
This winter can have all the excitement of trades and free agent signings as ever, but it will be a cold one for the league. With players making more money than ever, there has been an outcry for Major League Baseball to find a way to reduce salaries. I don’t have a solution, and that largely makes this post meaningless. But I do have a goal for the type of league I would enjoy watching (more) in my lifetime. Here’s my proposal:
Obviously, this is the biggest problem with Major League Baseball right now (it’s connected to PED use, if you think about it). I think it should be reasonable for every Major League Baseball team to operate with the same salary cap, a figure ideally around $120 million. In addition to the salary cap, I am in favor of a salary floor in order to prevent teams like the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins from avoiding contention to an extreme. I’d put the floor around $60 million, but not necessarily half of the cap (that’s just a coincidence here).
Player contracts would have to change dramatically. I think that all contracts should be reconstructed so that performance dictates a large portion of the deal. No player in the sport should be guaranteed more than $20 million per season. I’m not sure if that can be a rule, but if all contracts must be split between guaranteed money and incentives, it would be unlikely anyways.
My ideal contract under these restrictions could be like the following example. Brian McCann just signed a five-year deal with the New York Yankees for $85 million. Instead, under my system, here’s a rough deal McCann signs: $75 million with $25 million in incentives over five years.
McCann now has the opportunity to earn $15 million more than the original contract, and the Yankees have the opportunity to save $10 million. And that difference comes down to the performance of the player, as it should. The incentives in McCann’s deal could change from year-to-year based on the organization, but may include the number of games caught or his statistics at the plate.
This is hardly a groundbreaking idea, but it’s something that seems unrealistic across the entire league. It certainly would help though. All of a sudden, the players performing the best will be earning more money than possibly expected, and under performances won’t hurt team payrolls as much.
For this reason, it could be considered that guaranteed contracts are the only part of the deal that count towards the supposed $120 salary cap. Hypothetically, this could allow teams to sign $120 million worth of guaranteed money with up to $120 million of incentive money (assuming incentives are worth up to, but not more than the guaranteed money), for a total of $240 million spent on a roster, but we’ll avoid hypotheticals within this larger hypothetical because it’s late and my head hurts and I want this to be a short post.
Currently, team operate with both a 25-man roster and a 40-man roster. Most 25-man rosters consist of 12 or 13 hitters, and 12 or 13 pitchers depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
Instead, I would propose that each roster be expanded to 30 players. The additional five could prevent teams from running out of pitchers in extra inning games, while also encouraging teams to rely on six-man rotations instead of five to save the arms of their star pitchers. The additional position players on the 30-man roster would help managers double-switch…which would still be a thing because…
We must eliminate the designated hitter! I’m not a fan of the designated hitter and much prefer the National League style of the game…but I’m not spending time to discuss that here because I promised myself this wouldn’t be a lengthy post. But my major counter to the DH creating jobs in the game is that with 30 players on a roster, five additional jobs are available at the big league level. It also encourages young players to value the role of defense. Okay, I’m done.
So about those five additional jobs per team? I’m also adding two teams to Major League Baseball for 32 in total (a much more logical number than 30). MLB can put four teams in each of eight divisions, with 12 playoff teams (one from each division, plus two wild cards from each league). Obviously, these 32 teams would be split (East/West, American/National, etc.) but the schedule would not. I want to see a system where all teams are equally likely to meet on a year-by-year basis, with slightly more games within each division.
That was a lot of rambling. So to summarize and add to my league structure:
- 32 teams
- 2 conferences
- 8 divisions
- 4 teams per division
- 12 playoff teams
- Closer to 120 games per season than 162
- Late September/October playoffs (no November baseball EVER).
- Regular season begins in mid/late April
- Scheduled doubleheaders every Saturday
- Every team plays every team every year
- Division rivals (and possibly in-conference games) more frequent
So yes, there’s a Christmas wish for Major League Baseball as the calendar shifts to December. I don’t expect any of these aspects of the game to change anytime soon, but I remain hopeful.