When Will MLB Player Salaries Finally Stop Rising?
Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers made a ton of noise with a huge contract extension worth about a cool $30M per season for seven years. Some of that make really good sense to us in MLB terms. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game and so he should probably be paid as such. Also it isn’t for a decade or some ridiculous number of years. Seven years for a 26 year old proven star is not too long.
The very fact that this deal makes such good sense in so many ways is scary in a way though. I do not begrudge Kershaw getting a huge payday because it is more the machine he succeeds within than it is him being extremely greedy. He would have been the highest paid pitcher one or two decades ago as well if the free agent market worked the way it does now.
Here is the main problem with the money thrown around baseball; it is rising higher and doesn’t seem to stop. Is that really true though? Some players seem to be settling for well under $10M dollars per year. Say that to yourself out loud. Settling for under $10M per year? That is settling now? Where does it stop?
It does seem that only the elite players raise the bar quickly higher in the way it just rose with Kershaw. It should be added that because no one is better than him, no one should make more than him even in the messed up money grabbing system that works for MLB right now. The fact is that someone will soon make more than him though. You know they will. It’s only a matter of time.
Why though? Take Adam Wainwright as an example. He signed a healthy five year deal that pays him right at $19.5M per year. I ask you now who would win a one on one duel between Kershaw and Wainwright? You can’t say because we all know it would be a war. Kershaw is the best but he isn’t $10M per year better than Wainwright. To his credit, Wainwright has no issue with the gap between the two numbers. Who can really complain about making that much money anyway? Certainly not caliber people like these two gentlemen.
How far will it go? Soon the time will come for the Los Angeles Angels to lock up Mike Trout long term and you know that you know that is going to set more records than Trout himself will set even if his career pans out as it appears it will. Where does it stop? Can it stop? I think it can but it would have to include good sense change, not a complicated salary cap system.
A simple cap might work well though. They could set a huge ceiling. Say a team can never go over a payroll of $300M per year. No team is even close to that right now but given time the big boys could get there. Such a high number might be easy for both sides to agree upon and it could provide a stopping point for the ever rising salaries of the select few superstars that continue to raise the bar and will continue to for decades to come.
I also think a time limit would be good to have on contracts and it would protect teams and players alike. Who among these athletes in past decades has really been worth at the end of a decade long contract what they were worth at the beginning anyway? Kershaw has a real chance to be but that is because it is ‘only’ seven years. Set the limit at 8 to 10 years with a team cap way up at $300 and at least it would put a stop there decades down the road. Please leave your thoughts on this situation below if you can.