Weekend Debate: Free Agency and the Salary Question


Well, this week featured quite a flurry of moves among Major League Baseball. Brian McCann traded in his tomahawk for pinstripes while Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran changed their addresses to Yankee Stadium. Curtis Granderson packed his bags and took the subway from the Bronx to Queens. Then, in the biggest stunner of the offseason, top free agent Robinson Cano flew across the country to sign a mega deal with the Mariners. And of course, these were just the most notable of several signings that took place over the past week.

While Ducks and Atlantic League fans will still have to wait a little longer before transactions start occurring among the eight-team circuit, baseball fans in general were treated to a very entertaining week. However, despite all of the excitement, one issue once again rose to the forefront of the discussion: the amount of money professional players are being paid. Major League Baseball is the only league of the four major sports that does not use a salary cap, leading players like Cano to receive $240 million dollars over 10 years and Ellsbury to earn $153 million over seven. Big leaguers are continuing to receive huge contracts for long periods of time, often because they are the best player on the market at the time. However, do they really deserve that much money? Is that salary justified?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, minor league baseball features players at times making less than $1,000 a month at lower levels of play, leading to questions about why they don’t get paid higher salaries. There’s no question, all fans have an opinion on baseball salaries. Some say they should be higher, some say they should be lower. What’s your opinion? What is the right compensation structure for professional baseball players from the lowest levels of the minor leagues right up to the Major League level?

Let us know what your perfect salary structure would be if you were creating your own league. You can leave your thoughts in the comments section, and we might even post some of the responses next week. Also, be sure to vote in the Fowl Poll on the bottom right of the page whether or not you think Major League Baseball should institute a salary cap.


Posted on December 7, 2013, in Weekend Debate and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Free market forces should prevail in Major League Baseball in regard to salaries. You saw these forces at work this year with the Robinson Cano negotiations. Cano wanted over a $300M deal, and the Yankees making adjustments to their salary philosophies — still licking their wounds from their disastrous A-Rod deal – would not give it. The market would only bear $240M for Cano, 20% less than his asking price. The Yankees will pick up Cano four years from now and have the benefit of Seattle paying 60% of his salary to get rid of him. He still won’t be running down to first. 🙂

    Although a little more difficult, smaller market teams can still compete regardless of payroll in the free market. St. Louis, who competes every year via their scouting and minor league development system, is the gold standard for an organization that competes without the benefit of a large market. Branch Rickey (of Jackie Robinson fame) actually established the reality of a farm system for St. Louis (and MLB) when he was the Cardinal’s GM in the 1920’s. They were a smart ball club then; they are a smart ball club now. The Cardinals did not make the top ten list of highest baseball team salaries this year. Despite that, they were still in the World Series this year, even after letting Albert Pujols walk; not meeting his salary demands. Success compounds; failure compounds.

    The Atlantic League is a different story in regard to pay scale. You are giving ballplayers without affiliate contracts or recognition a chance to be scouted and be resigned. Ballplayers would even pay for this chance instead of being paid for it. They are being provided a benefit. That being said, if you take NY State’s minimum wage ($7.50/Hour) — assuming a ballplayer spends 8 hours a day at the ballpark on game day and has 140 games a season — without travel time considerations which private sector jobs don’t consider, the salary would come out to $8K a season. The Atlantic League pays average salaries of $2-$3K/month to its ballplayers, which based on an April to September season; this would come out to $12-18K/year, which seems appropriate. Also, the Atlantic League offers a minor league schedule that offers a 140 game schedule where many lower level minor leagues only offer 70 games schedules, which this extra base pay also helps out its players financially.

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