Small-Market Teams vs. Large-Market Teams: Should There Be A Salary Cap In MLB?
Small Ball Or Spend It All?
With the MLB regular season coming to a close and the playoffs right around the corner, teams are either gearing up for the postseason or preparing for some extended time off. The draft and the free agency periods are just a few highlights of the offseason, but for some small-market teams, they could be a nightmare.
Though small-market teams have been dominating the league in recent years and have proven that money doesn't buy championships, it is only a matter of time before they have to break the bank to sign their franchise player(s).
Large-market teams like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox take advantage and use small-market teams as their own personal farm systems. As soon as a player reaches his prime and full potential, he is offered a contract that he can't refuse, thus destroying an opposing franchise.
For small-market teams, it is a constant struggle to maintain legitimacy in the league. Having to compete with large market teams for a big name on the market is an uphill battle and ultimately, one to lose. Not having a strong fan base and the money to afford players is another thing.
Though the new CBA is in place, large market teams still take advantage of the system. As we go through and analyze some of the top small and large-market teams, one of the more intriguing question is: if there was a salary cap in the MLB, would it help balance things out in the league?
The Baltimore Orioles have excelled this season under the offensive production of Chris Davis, who is currently batting .304 with 46 HRs and 118 RBIs and has helped propel the Orioles to a 70-59 record and third in the AL East. Baltimore is also 5.5 games out of first place and two games out of the Wild Card spot behind the Cleveland Indians.
Davis was acquired by the Orioles from the Texas Rangers back in 2011 and will be a free agent after the 2015 season. If he keeps producing and proves that this season wasn't just a fluke, he will be a hot commodity on the open market, especially with Scott Boras as his agent.
Scott Boras is known to give his best attempts at making his clients as much money as possible, while breaking up team chemistry and ruining franchises in the process. Boras has brokered many record-setting contracts since 1982, and many of his clients, including Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Alex Rodriguez, Stephen Strasburg, Jayson Werth and Barry Zito, are among the highest paid in the game.
That is why the inevitable may be bound to happen when Davis ends up as a free agent. Boras already went on record to say that a contract extension is not a primary focus right now, so there has to be some cause for concern for general manager Dan Duquette and crew. (Boras also represents Davis' teammate Matt Wieters)
New York Yankees
If the Orioles aren't able to work out a contract extension with Davis, then a large market team like the New York Yankees, who set a record for baseball's highest opening-day payroll at around $230 million, would be likely candidates to scoop him up, continuing their trend of ruining so many small-market teams over the years in the process. On opening day, the Yankees' payroll was nearly 10 times the spending of the Houston Astros, who shrunk their payroll to about $25 million.
The Yankees are a perfect example of a large-market team because they are willing and able to spend as much money as they want on talent, and we have seen that throughout the years.
For example, the controversial Alex Rodriguez was signed to a record-breaking 10-year, $275 million contract back in '07, breaking his previous record of $252 million. (which is the largest contract in MLB history). Rodriguez is currently making more money this year than all of the Astros combined! And he didn't even play the first half of the season.
In 2008, C.C. Sabathia's $161 million deal to join the Yankees was one of the largest ever as a starter. In 2011 he agreed to a $122 million contract over the next five seasons.
Sabathia is an even 11-11 with a 4.81 ERA. At 33-years old, there is still a lot of gas left in the tank, but he simply has not pitched like an ace most of the season. He has allowed six or more runs in his last three starts, so there has to be some cause for concern.
Following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees was the third-largest contract in MLB history. And like so many others, he hasn't lived up to its worth.
Teixeira only played in 15 games this season due to a wrist injury and batted a sub-par .151, proving to be a liability offensively. Teixeira is still locked up for another three years with the Yankees and will be owed $67.5 million after being paid $22.5 million this season to do absolutely nothing. The Yankees can only hope that he will at least be half the All-Star he was just a season prior, but given his age and steady decline over the years, it is highly unlikely that he would even stay healthy for the most part.
The lists goes on and on for New York. Keep an eye out for Yankees star second baseman Robinson Cano as he may be the next name to find itself on this expensive list.
The Oakland Athletics are another small-market team that have found recent success over the past couple of years using a finely-crafted sabermetrics system of evaluating players. They have a variety of young talent in the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Josh Donaldson, and currently find themselves 2.5 games behind the AL-Central leading, Texas Rangers. The A's are currently behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card.
Despite their great performance, like the Orioles, they will have to come to terms with their star sluggers. The first name that comes to mind is Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes, but this season has been anything but sensational to say the least.
Yoenis Cespedes is currently batting .227 with 20 HRs and 58 RBIs. Though the power numbers have been there, his average has been alarmingly low after a great rookie season.
Cespedes was signed to a four-year, $36 million contract and will automatically become a free agent after the 2015 season. Many have to wonder if the A's want to take another bargain on the Cuban or if a large market team may scoop him up before Oakland has the chance to make a move. After all, Cespedes turned down a six-year deal with the Miami Marlins ranging in value of about $36 million to $40 million because they were not willing to give him $9 million per year as the A's did.
Josh Reddick, who was acquired by the A's in a trade that sent closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox, has seen his share of consistent struggles as this season hasn't been so kind to him.
After having a breakout year in 2012 batting .242 with 32 HRs and 85 RBIs, Reddick has been plagued by nagging wrist injuries and inconsistency at the plate. He is currently batting a poor .213 with 10 HRs and 46 RBIs. Despite his poor performance, Oakland has still surged to a 72-57 record.
Josh Donaldson has made a name for himself this season, batting .292 with 19 HRs and 74 RBIs. He has proven to be consistent, batting .267 with 13 RBIs in 75 at-bats during August, after hitting just .233 with eight RBIs in the month of July. He is signed to a one-year near-minimum contract worth $492.500 but is not arbitration-eligible until 2015, and can't be a free agent until he's 33-years old in 2019 at the earliest. So, he will remain in Oakland for awhile longer.
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are another great example of a large-market team that has spent its share of money over the years. In 2010, the Sox signed star sluggers Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to combined deals worth 14-year, $244 million. Though they were able to rid themselves of these massive contracts in a mega deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, they still have the disgustingly overpaid John Lackey on the roster. In Lackey's defense, he has been decent this year as expectations were at an all-time low for the 33-year-old. He is currently 8-11 with a 3.17 ERA.
Lackey was signed to a five-year, $83 million deal back in 2009 and is still looked at as one of the worst signings in Red Sox history. Once the ace of the Los Angeles Angels and dubbed a Red Sox killer numerous times throughout his career, Lackey just hasn't made a positive adjustment over to the tough and competitive AL East. All Boston can do now is hope that he finishes the last couple of years of his contract on a high note, making a positive contribution to Red Sox rotation.
What Is the Future Of Baseball?
In the Collective Bargaining Agreement, every team is required to deposit a percentage of their local revenues into a pot at the end of each season. It is then redistributed amongst the 30 different teams, with poorer teams like the Orioles and the Athletics receiving larger portions. Though this is a strong step in the right direction, it is still not enough as teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox abuse the system.
If their was a salary cap in MLB like every other sport has, the Yankees wouldn't be whining and regretting making A-Rod the highest-paid player ever. A salary cap may also save the legitimacy of small-market teams in this league.
With athletes being awarded over-inflated contracts, you have to stop and wonder, do they feel pressured to use PEDs in order to live up to their contract? If there was a salary cap in MLB, there may be a decrease in the amount of PED cases and suspensions.