This offseason Troy Tulowitzki, Jayson Werth, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford each signed contracts worth more than $125 million, and a fifth such contract, with Cliff Lee’s name attached to it, is on the way.
(The contract the Red Sox gave Adrian Gonzalez, worth about $160 million, is not yet official for luxury tax purposes).
Meanwhile, basketball and football owners are threatening lockouts due to a lack of revenue.
Has the recession not hit baseball? Is baseball’s compensation system far more profitable for the owners?
The answer to both questions, of course, is no. One explanation for the spending, brought to light by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, is that last offseason was the most frugal in recent baseball history. After a year of reduced spending – that had players threatening to sue for collusion – teams have simply returned to normal levels of spending.
But the notion of a money-crazy offseason is a little bit misleading for another reason. Assuming Lee signs with New York, the Red Sox and Yankees are responsible for 60 per cent of these crazy contracts. Their willingness to spend is practically boundless and rarely questioned. Other traditionally spend-happy teams, namely the Dodgers and White Sox, are responsible for four more contracts that combine to surpass $140 million. The Angels, too, will certainly take a dip in the free agent pool before Opening Day.
Really, this crazy offseason is simply a matter of teams in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles spending money. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
The best part is, there’s no guarantee these teams will reach the postseason. No one player dominates a 25-man sport, and the nature of baseball’s farm system and executives’ willingness to trade means just a little bit of creativity can overcome a lot of spending.
For more on baseball’s free agent market follow us on Twitter @BISportsPage
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