MLB Has Some Big Problems

2017 marked the third consecutive season in which MLB attendance declined.  In fact, it went below 73 million for the first time since 2002.  You need to realize that attendance has declined for 5 out of the past 6 years (Maury Brown Forbes Magazine). It’s not huge, but it is a decline… almost half a million less in 2017 over 2016. Major league baseball attendance has declined 8.59% since 2000.  Yet, some players, agents and fans insist that the game is extremely healthy.  It’s not!  It is in decline, and how fast it declines depends upon a myriad of factors, including pace of play, time of games, ticket prices, concession prices, payroll equality, luxury tax rates, salary caps, minimum salaries and the collective bargaining agreement.

Young fans don’t like baseball and many can’t be paid to go to a game.  Owners and General Managers are getting wise to doling out huge contracts that become a boat anchor upon the organization like Albert Pujols of the Angels.  Agents are crying collusion (of course they are) because they only get paid when their clients get paid and if Scott Borasss thought the $200 million contracts he was going to get for Arrieta, Martinez and Hosmer would fund his next yacht, he is mistaken – he might have to buy a motorboat!

It’s time for some change in baseball and not just the rules, like DH in both leagues, speeding up the pace of play and the like, but baseball needs to becaome affordable for families.  Dodger fans are up in arms that the team has raised ticket prices, but the Dodgers ranked near the bottom of all teams.  The Cubs, Red Sox and Yankees made triple on ticket sales compared to the Dodgers.  Smaller markets will not support that, which is why Tampa Bay, Miami, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Oakland are non-factors and unlikely to be in the near future.

Small market teams are tanking to make money, get prospects and rebuild for a title run once every ten years.  Fans feel very little loyality to that sort of organization.  There needs to be better revenue-sharing, a mininum and maximum salary cap.  Manfred is talking about adding two more teams, but Miami, TB and Oakland are not currently viable.

Then there are the allegations of collusion which is absolutely presposterous.  Everyone and his brother can access the information and see that these long-term deals are just plain stupid! Some GM”s may be slow, but they are figuring it out.  MLB has some big problems and they have to be dealt with, quickly, rationally and with an eye on the future.

The Athletic is a pay site that features Ken Rosenthal, Jim Bowden and Peter Gammons as baseball insiders.  It’s $39.95 a year, I think and well worth it.  This is my shameless plug for Ken Rosenthal.  Yesterday, he wrote a piece called: “At some point, MLB and its players need to understand the sport must evolve” Normally, I would not publish so much of an article, but I am doing it in the hope that you will recognize what great writing and information this is and subscribe.  In part, he says this:

The players did not create a style of play in which a record 33.5 percent of all plate appearances last season ended in a walk, strikeout or home run, the action-sucking three true outcomes. No, the players merely adapted to the preferences of 21st-century front offices—pitchers who produce high strikeout rates, hitters who get on base and mash homers.

The effect of analytics on starting pitchers also is considerable. Starters do not want to throw increasingly fewer innings—fewer than 5 2/3 last season, a record low. But front offices preach against allowing starters to face hitters a third time through the order and promote matching up with one reliever after another in the late innings, slowing games to a crawl.

Manfred is not blind to the impact of analytics. His idea—with the introduction of a pitch clock, reduction in mound visits and other pace-of-play initiatives—is to take smaller steps first, then re-evaluate. Yet, even his smaller steps are eliciting howls of protest, most significantly by an intransigent players’ union that opposed a pitch clock on general principle and grew vehement in its opposition due to an entirely unrelated issue—the slow-moving free-agent market.

As I’ve written previously, the players have only themselves to blame for signing off on a collective bargaining agreement that enabled the owners to clamp down on free agency—not so much on players such as Yu Darvish and Eric Hosmer, who will get deals close to or at market value, but on those like Logan Morrison and Jon Jay of the middle class, who are getting squeezed by the seeming preference of clubs for minimum-salaried rookies over established 30-somethings, skill and experience be damned.

The arguments of the clubs for greater efficiency are not wrong—the foolishness of awarding expensive contracts to declining players is well-documented. But the clubs, too, bear a responsibility for labor relations. Even if they are correct in every single free-agent valuation—highly doubtful—players perceive their overall approach to the market as overkill. And if total payrolls decline from a year ago, as Craig Edwards suggested in a recent article for Fangraphs, the players’ fears will prove well-founded….

Manfred is not some kind of imperious egomaniac who wants to put his stamp on the game. Quite the contrary, he is open-minded to any idea that might improve the product. His concerns about pace of play, much as they incense traditionalists, are perfectly valid. The sport needs to increase its appeal to younger and casual fans, and remain appealing to its existing fans in a society with an increasingly short attention span. Part of a commissioner’s job is to be a forward thinker.

The union does not dispute that pace of play is an issue worth addressing, but many, if not most players, loathe the pitch clock and, in particular, the accompanying ball-strike penalties. Manfred, meanwhile, sends something of a mixed message with time-of-game “triggers” in his pace-of-play proposals, further confusing matters.

“Pace of game is different than time of game,” Manfred told reporters at the Grapefruit League media day last February. “Pace relates to dead time caused by batters stepping out, pitchers not working quickly, trips to the mound. A quicker pace in the game is good for fans both in the ballpark and watching our broadcasts.

“In contrast, time of game is dictated by a number of factors that we really can’t control. A longer game may or may not be a concern, depending on how much action is in that game. That is why we have never set a goal in terms of time of game. What we want is a well-paced game with action regardless of the actual time of the game.”

Well, Manfred’s latest proposal certainly conflates the two, stating that an average game time of two hours, 55 minutes or more in 2018 will lead to an 18-second pitch clock with no runners on base starting May 1, 2019. In baseball’s view, some type of pace-of-play measurement is necessary, and time of game is pretty much the only one available. Fair enough. But even then, the current game has structural flaws that a pitch clock will not correct, flaws that hint at deeper problems.

Clubs obviously are not going to stop using analytics, but baseball can adopt measures to counter the rise of the three true outcomes and increased use of relievers. Manfred has talked about raising the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to the top of the kneecap with the idea of introducing more action. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein floated the idea of requiring relievers to face as many as three batters per appearance at the 2015 general managers’ meetings.

Epstein’s suggestion would lead to fewer pitching changes and likely spur offense, a tradeoff that might not reduce the average time of game, but should help the pace. Raising the strike zone might produce its own set of consequences, and baseball would need to proceed with caution, acknowledging the potential impact on the overall product. A pitch clock, even with ball-strike penalties, would have a less dramatic effect. But if Manfred cannot take smaller steps without a major pushback, how is he going to persuade players and hardcore fans to accept bigger ones?

At some point, both groups need to understand the sport must evolve. Other professional sports routinely implement significant rules changes with minimal controversy. Most of baseball’s radical changes in recent decades—from the introduction of the wild card and expanded postseason to the home-plate collision and second-base slide rules—overcame initial resistance to achieve general acceptance. The pitch clock likely would follow the same pattern. I just don’t think it will make much of a difference.

The issues run deeper. The changes need to be more profound. And the responsibility falls on both sides, whenever they are ready to stop bickering. Sure, the players stall and dawdle and flat-out waste time, but the rise of analytics also contributed to the product suffering. Baseball is smarter but more boring. And a ticking clock alone will not stem the tide.

Rosenthal nailed it!  This is a great site that will only get better with time.  Try it out!

Do any of you have the solution?  If changes aren’t made, this game we all love will slowly die a painful death.

 

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 58 Comments

  1. Whenever I go to a ballgame, there are a few things that have become real pet peeves because of the amount of time that they seem to waste.
    First, I think that once a hitter steps into the batter’s box he should be required to stay there unless something occurs such as the pitcher throwing to a base, a passed ball or wild pitch, or a stolen base. Adjusting one’s batting gloves, helmet or jock after each pitch is one of the worst time wasters in the game and most hitters want to do this.
    Second, catchers should be limited to one mound visit per inning and can go no closer than the arc in front of the plate at any other time. There are far too many trips to the mound being made and these strategy sessions should occur between innings or have previously been discussed during pre-game meetings with coaches. These are pro ballplayers who should be able to figure out what is the right play to make in a particular situation. Other players need to be restricted from mound visits unless the manager or coach goes to the mound.
    Third, once the pitcher has toed the mound, he should have to remain within the confines of the mound and deliver the pitch in a timely manner. I hate a timer being set on each pitch so just getting pitchers to eliminate game delaying actions like stepping off the mound, trips to the spike cleaner or resin bag between pitches, clothing or equipment adjustments after each pitch, etc. would easily decrease the time between pitches below thirty seconds.
    Thanks for the Rosenthal article snippet, Mark. I’m no fan of Scott Boras but the extra “s” that you insist on adding to his name is beneath you and is starting to become a pet peeve of mine so please desist. Your arguments against him are much more effective, in my opinion.

  2. Part of the pay problems is the low pay for early years and the high pay for the latter years. A team benefits from the production generated in early years of a players life and pays a minimum for that production. The team that signs a free agent generally has to pay that player what he was worth in his early years as well as pay that free agent for what is expected from him during his free agent contract.
    .
    Mid-level veterans aren’t that much better than players playing in their first 5 years. To level the playing field between mid-level free agents and early career players, I would suggest salaries be based on WAR for pre-arb players as well as veterans.
    .
    Make salaries for all players $1M plus $5M X WAR.
    .
    I still want an electronically called strike zone that expands when a batter steps out to tighten his batting glove but not to swat bugs from their face or wipe sweat from their eyes and shrinks with the third visit to the mound or a pitcher doesn’t either pitch a ball or throw to a base within 18 seconds from having the ball in his hand. That way a pitcher can take all the time they need to pitch but the strike zone will be tighter.
    .
    Getting back to pay by WAR, teams would build their 25 based on how much WAR they were able to pay. Pay by WAR would also create more competition for a player because low income teams currently can’t afford to gamble on big ticket free agents that don’t perform.

  3. The generational problem isn’t going to be resolved by limiting how many times a batter steps out of the box, etc. The issue is much larger than that.

    Those born since 1980 have been raised on technology. They have no attention span. Compare a movie made in 1955 to one made last year – all of the jerky movement caused by use of hand-held cameras, all of the computer-driven special effects, all of the meaningless “action” and sudden, unnecessary plot twists. Instead of getting to know a character or hearing dialogue, we get movies that are comic books with the sophistication removed.

    Baseball is a sport for a thinking person. Watching small things that happen on the field become meaningful; the “every-dayness” of the game limiting the highs and lows, the lack of a time clock. When it comes down to it, baseball is a bunch of guys in a field throwing a ball – it doesn’t get more pastoral than that.

    Today’s young grow up on the meaningless action of soccer – all of the up and back but nothing happening, the “gangster” NBA where attitude is more important than skill, the violence of the NFL. The sports fan who is looking for these attributes won’t find them in baseball, nor should they. Imposition of the culture of comic book movies and the meaningless movement of soccer has no place in baseball.

    Baseball could do things to improve. I’m OK with a pitch clock, limiting visits to the mound, maybe even requiring relief pitchers to pitch to a minimum number of hitters. (No to the DH!) But if anyone thinks that Millennials will suddenly love baseball with these changes, he will be disappointed. They will have to grow up, put their smartphones down, and learn something first.

    1. “gangster NBA”? Idiotic . If you don’t think skill is more important attitude in the nba you clearly don’t watch, clearly have no clue, and clearly are making crap up to prove some point

      1. I’ve been watching the NBA since the late ’60s. The quality of the game was higher 20 or 30 years ago than it is now in my opinion. You can disagree without impugning knowledge or motives.

        1. Who wants to see teams throw up 3s and miss em, then run to the other end throw up another 3 and miss it ad infinitum all game long. Be nice to see some athleticism and team play, as in defense.

  4. Yeah well, try lowering their prices on tickets and putting the game on TV for an affordable price. Doesn’t take an economist to figure that out. Make it easier for folks to get in and out and less expensive for parking. Or have trains and shuttles to get people in and out without traffic. I love the game but don’t enjoy driving to the city of LA or even San Diego to see games. I’ll just listen on MLB audio for 20 bucks a year. Make things easier and cheaper for people to go and they will come. Absolutely no reason to change a perfect game whatsoever.

  5. I love what is happening right now with free agents. Do I believe that they should get paid well for being one of 1200 in the world… absolutely. Do I believe they should get 200 million freakin’ dollars for a couple of good years…. oh, hell no! Contracts have gotten silly since the Arod travesty in ’01 and it is finally happening, a correction in the market. Having one guy account for up to 30% of the team’s payroll is not a good thing. Heck, can you imagine the frustration and, yes, jealousy of guys like Mays, Koufax, McCovey, etc.?
    Finally, we are seeing how incredibly stupid signing Pujols for 10 years was. I remember his wife being insulted that the Cards ‘only’ offered 5 years and now the man is showing his age just like the Cards predicted. These ridiculous contracts need to end if the sport is going to continue to grow. Seeing this correction that the agents are calling collusion is a breath of fresh air. Now, if only ticket prices would tumble…

  6. The frustration for Mays and Koufax shouldn’t be out of jealousy, it should be against the fake market in which they played.

    Why in god’s name shouldn’t they make the most they possibly can in a free market?

    Why should ticket prices tumble?

  7. The game does need to evolve, but for me not with a time clock. One of the great aspects of baseball is that it is the only game that is not dictated by time. The time clock has saved between nine to 15 minutes off the average AA and AAA game where the time clock has been instituted. I am sorry, but an extra 15 minutes for a game is not that troubling for me.
    .
    I am okay with limiting the number of trips to the mound by the catcher and infielders. I cannot remember when it changed, but it wasn’t always the 2nd trip to the mound meant the pitcher had to be changed. I think everyone is used to that, and we would all get used to limiting the number of trips by catcher and infielders. Other than the 7th game, the number of trips to the mound by the catchers was the most annoying factor in last year’s WS. That rule change will have a far greater impact on the pace of play than will a time clock.
    .
    In 2016, ML pitchers averaged 22.7 seconds between pitches while Pedro Baez was 30.2. That is 7.5 extra seconds. When multiplied by 20 pitches, that is 2.5 extra minutes. Taking it out further, with Baez pitching, the games were extended cumulatively by approximately 2.5 hours for the year. For a year, 2.5 hours of extra baseball is not an issue for me. Maybe it is for millennials.
    .
    How much time has been added due to instant replay? If MLB truly wants to shorten the game, maybe they should limit the number of commercials between innings. Fat chance!! I remember when September callups meant 3-5 players who were considered close (very close). Now we call up the full 40 man roster. The game time increases because the pitching caliber and defensive caliber are not as good as the ML quality we are used to March/April through August.
    .
    “Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein floated the idea of requiring relievers to face as many as three batters per appearance at the 2015 general managers’ meetings.” With that recommendation, are we also implementing a rule for no pinch hitters for those three batters?
    .
    I am not in favor of the DH, but I recognize it is going to happen for the NL. Sports enthusiasts like action/scoring. Why was Super Bowl LII so great? Because of the offense. With the DH there will be more scoring and that should excite some fans. I personally have no problem with a 1-0 game. Those are just as exciting for me (as long as the Dodgers have the 1).
    .
    I also suggest that the game has evolved…although due to sabermetrics. Many do not like sabermetrics, but to deny that the game has evolved due to sabermetrics is delusional. Baseball has always been about game management and strategy. There are now better tools to decide the more appropriate strategy to be implemented before and during the game. Admittedly I do not like that teams are now looking to limit starting pitchers to only twice through the lineup. That philosophy would absolutely limit the starting pitcher to no more than 6 innings, and that is true only if he threw a perfect 6. But I understand the reasoning, accept it, but do not like it.
    .
    “The players did not create a style of play in which a record 33.5 percent of all plate appearances last season ended in a walk, strikeout or home run, the action-sucking three true outcomes. No, the players merely adapted to the preferences of 21st-century front offices—pitchers who produce high strikeout rates, hitters who get on base and mash homers.” I absolutely agree that this has transpired. The Dodgers offensive philosophy is to hit the ball hard with as much lift as you can. The number of strikeouts is irrelevant if the number of HRs is elevated. I do not believe that management will be upset with Grandal and Joc hitting .220-.230 as long as they have 25-30 HRs. They both have good OBP, so they do walk a lot, which is exactly what Rosenthal was saying. However, that is not my game. I prefer the Wills, Butler, Ichiro, Rose, Boggs, Gwynn game vs. the Reggie Jackson. But not management. Again, I recognize it, accept it, but do not like it.
    .
    One other factor for a reduction of interest is the ever changing roster. Many fans become fans of specific players as well as the team. But if the players are consistently changing, the fan is less emotionally involved in the game. How many Kershaw fans will not be as “fanatical” if he were to leave; or Seager. Marlins Stadium was filled when Jose Fernandez was pitching. Not so when he wasn’t. What do you think their attendance will be now with Stanton, Ozuna, Gordon, and Yelich on other teams. Take a look at LA attendance when Fernando pitched and when he did not. Bums likes Joc Pederson. I cannot speak for him, but I would guess that while he would still be an avid Dodger fan, a little piece of him would be very disappointed if Joc is traded. Those changes did not happen as often when I was growing up.
    .
    Youth participation is not decreasing in baseball and softball. So the sport is still very popular amongst the youth, at least as far as participation goes. I think MLB needs to do more in the off-season with camps and community events to get the players out in front. Players have to realize that they have a God-given talent, and are making a boat load of money, and they need to give back. Most have their philanthropic side and favorite charities and foundations they support. Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, and Joc Pederson are VERY involved in philanthropic activities. I am not purposely leaving anybody out. Those are just the four that come immediately to mind. But they should also participate in marketing the game. Fans are attracted to players. While it was not a baseball event, the fans at the recent Kings game went crazy for Kike’ Hernandez when he “dropped the puck”. It was great to watch. I wanted to order my #14 jersey after watching that. I came across another Ken Rosenthal story about the rise in youth baseball & softball.
    https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/study-shows-youth-baseball-softball-participation-on-the-rise-051817
    .
    By the way, I also have a subscription to The Athletic, and I agree with Mark that it is a great source. I find myself generally in agreement with Ken Rosenthal, but I just cannot write as well.

    1. AC

      Maybe you remember those players, because they post the stuff they do more, then other players on the team.

      I think in baseball right now, they are getting away from those type of hitters.

      The Astros traded any players they had, that were three outcome type of hitters, on their team.

      Because those type of hitters are not good, for a team’s offensive production.

      And a lot of these guys that play first that are that type of a hitters, are not getting the chances, they once got either.

      If baseball was really serious about speeding up the game, they would put some kind of restriction on relievers, and put restrictions on how many times a catcher can go out to the mound.

      I don’t think any of the stuff they are doing, will make baseball more popular with young people.

      Because most young people are almost always on their phones.

      And it is very easy to watch baseball, and still be on a phone.

      And no time table, is what makes baseball so different, then other sports.

  8. I found these two twitter comments interesting.
    .
    Justin Turner
    ✔@redturn2
    If the true goal of @MLB is to capture the interest of fans, having the best product on the field every night should be the priority. If the best players aren’t out there, it doesn’t matter how long a game is. Our fans deserve to see the best of the best playing for Championships
    .
    Alex Wood also chimed in with his opinion on Twitter and agreed that roughly half the league is entering the 2018 season with an intention of losing as many games as possible:
    .
    Alex Wood
    ✔@Awood45
    It appears that there are 12-15 Teams that have committed to tanking and or not putting the best team they can on the field. That strikes at the heart of the Integrity of the game and is truly unfair to the FANS who LOVE and SUPPORT these organizations!
    .
    I can find very little argument in what they actually have said. Although the players and their agents also have to be realistic with their requests. Yu Darvish is looking for a Stephen Strasburg type contract, which he absolutely does NOT deserve. Hosmer is not signing until he gets an 8th year? And it is the owners who are colluding?

    1. If I were the Red Sox, I would tell Borass: “You have 24-Hours to accept our offer or we pull it off the table and move on. We will not re-visit it! “

      I’d immediately contact Logan Morrison and offer him a 3 year/$33 million deal if JDM did not sign. The Red Sox might be better off.

  9. The game is great the way it is. Proposed changes are just something to do to appear productive. Attendance/viewership is in decline across the sports spectrum. The facts are at some point there will be contraction. Like it or not all good things come to an end. Maybe globalization will save the day…for a while. Contraction wouldn’t bother me. Only the strong should survive. Too many teams. Too many games. Too many mediocre pitchers. Too much $. Let nature take its course. The game is bigger than all this. It will survive. Maybe just on a smaller scale.

    1. If it’s so great, why is attendance declining steadily?

      2018 could be a year of STEEP decline. In fact, I predict it!

      See how things look next year!

          1. Good Riddance to McDaniel though. I didn’t really want him, but yes it doesn’t look good. It reminds me of something that would happen under Robert Irsay and I go back to the Baltimore days. I thought it was strange to have all of those assistant coaches signed before the head coach. The worst part of it is letting other coaches get away whom they could have hired.

            McDaniel will have a hard time getting a job anywhere other than NE and once B & B are gone, I think he will be a colossal flop.

          2. I am not a huge NFL fan. When my Packers are eliminated, my interest wanes. But it sure appears clear to me that Bill Belichick has told Robert Kraft that he is going to retire when Brady does (2019?), and Kraft told McDaniel to hold on until then, and then the Pats head coaching job is his. Otherwise why wouldn’t he take a HC position? He is all of 41.
            .
            The Pats and McDaniel are going to regret trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers.

          3. I’m sure the Patriots can’t say they promised him the gig because it would be in violation of the minority hiring process. However, once you recruit guys to be your assistant coaches who have signed contracts and moved their families a man with any character fulfills his new commitment. The guy is already despised and mistrusted around the NFL. He better be successful as HC in NE because it is the only chance he will get.

  10. Youth baseball is on the rise. MLB had record amounts of revenue. Yes, we have more snow flakes playing soccer and the concussion issue has pushed more kids away from football to other sports. Baseball is just fine. Two great post-seasons in a row and once again instead of marketing all the great young talent. This dbag commissioner and sports writers complain about pace of play.

  11. “Part of the pay problems is the low pay for early years ” I can’t speak for anyone else on this site, but in my world the league minimum IS NOT LOW PAY! I have never in my 75 years made that kind of yearly salary. Salaries should not be guaranteed. How many of you who own businesses guarantee your employees pay regardless of production? Not that Kershaw will opt out, but what is it it can’t afford on what he is now making?

  12. I think replay has turned out being very good for my viewing pleasure as getting it right is worth the few extra seconds, which I find excitement in the wait for the results. I’m in favor of technology stepping in on calling what is a strike and what is a ball because because umpires too often bet it wrong and spoil my viewing pleasure. I don’t care if the game is longer and I sure don’t care if kids want more action. Let them watch basketball in the future or let them watch MMA or let them listen to rap music which isn’t really music. But let me watch what is right for short remaining life. I’m amazed how much baseball has gotten right with the distance of bases and odds for steal and in most cases where the outfield fence is. I appreciate a pitcher that has decent offensive skills and the strategy a manager has to use them in the lineups. Let the AL create whatever offence they want with total offense and defense players but when playing on NL fields play by NL rules and if that hinders the future it’s okay with me. Let the NL be without the DH for just (hopefully) a few more years. then they can turn it into an orgy for all I’ll care. Hey, I might stick around to watch that.

  13. 1. I prefer the DH.
    2. I prefer electronically called strikes.
    3. I prefer performance based contracts starting in a players year one.
    4. I would start the 10th inning with a runner on second base and every inning thereafter.
    5. I would pinch the strike zone if a pitcher takes too long to throw the ball somewhere.
    6. I would stretch the strike zone if a batter steps out of the box a third time.
    7. I would pair starters so that each goes 4 innings to reduce need for multiple relievers in a game.
    8. I would not do #7 for all spots in the rotation. Maybe Buehler/Ryu and Maeda/Stewart.

  14. Time for Manfred to organize a team made up of owners, players, union management, major league management, some hall of fame members, along with some out of baseball people who can all meet and together work out a new salary contract system that is fair for all players, and owners. Also, the issue of tanking should be addressed and maybe some form of penalties should be put in place to end this practice. The main thing is to get people on both sides talking about how to fix these differences at a table and not in the newspaper or on television.

  15. Here’s some more stuff on Dodgers’ prospects from the FanGraphs chat:
    .
    Kiley McDaniel: We’ve both liked Will Smith for awhile and he’s the rare catcher where he’s above average at everything. He’s steadily improved and his weakness was lifting the ball which he’s really doing now. Like Keibert too and some think he’s an elite framer which could be important or maybe we get robo umps and it doesn’t matter, but the other tools don’t really match up with the fresh prince
    .
    We had Keibert on the Honorable Mentions section. We think he’s a 50 and that you can slide him anywhere in the 50 FV tier if you argue for him the right way (again, please read the intro to the list, folks) which in Keibert’s case means heavily weighing his minor league framing metrics. Diaz I think is a flat 50. White’s velo was down in the fall, Kendall and Peters are 45s with swing and miss issues. Kendall’s are mechanical (and more fixable) while I think Peters’ are more approach-based.

  16. Just read a great article on MLB.com. They were talking about the stalemate between J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox. The Sox offered 5 years for $125 million, Martinez,(excuse me, Borass) wants at least 6. That’s $25 Mill a year for a DH!! He can’t play the outfield because Boston is totally set with their young studs out there. Hanley is the DH right now. One of their fans had a great question, was Big Pappi ever paid that much in Boston? If I’m J,D. I’m all over this deal. Also read that Darvish has MULTIPLE 5 year offers, but he is waiting for the Yankees or the Dodgers to shed payroll to possibly make room for him. I am sure most of you guys feel the same way, there is no collusion, just free agents trying to squeeze money out of a changing market. How would you like to be a fly on the wall in Borass’ office? Bet his heiny is getting a little squirmy. (Anybody got info on what Big Pappi made perb year? I’m curious)

    1. 2011 – $12.5M + $150K incentive – Age 35
      2012 – $14.575M – Age 36
      2013 – $15M + $50K incentive – Age 37
      2014 – $15M – Age 38
      2015 – $16M – Age 39
      2016 – $16M – Age 40

  17. JDM is down apparently to two offers; 5 years at $125M from Boston and a 1 year deal from Arizona (amount unknown -presumably $25M). The other potential teams have signed others and are now out of the auction. JDM is frustrated with Boston because they are “inflexible”, meaning they will not go six. If they do not increase the offer, JDM says he is going to turn down the offer and sign with someone else. Boras could not get Dombrowski to bid against himself as he has done with others, and now he has nowhere else to go. JDM cannot be happy after being told by the great Scott Boras that I am going to get you $200M, and then cannot get more than $125M (poor baby). Boras is trying to downplay JDM’s frustration, but I think that his commentary rings hollow. JDM will undoubtedly sign a Cespedes 3 year deal with a one year opt out.

    1. What good points the ballplayers are making about this market get lost on the general public when they hear about Martinez and Hosmer. Why should Boston bid against themselves? I wouldn’t give Hosmer 8 years. Hell, I wouldn’t give him 7 years.

  18. Why try and speed up a liesurely game of baseball. Why not make it more more feasible and enjoyable after the 7th inning stretch with a happy hour of some sort.

  19. An interesting point of view from Dodgers’ Digest about the merits of staying under the luxury tax vs. signing Yu Darvish:
    “If the Dodgers keep their payroll under $237 million (which they’re projected to do), they’d have to pay a 50 percent tax on any amount over $197 million. This is preventing the Dodgers — by their own doing right now — from re-signing Yu Darvish, who reportedly wants to come back. To give him a deal that would entice him to come back, the Dodgers would have to pay him in the neighborhood of $20-25 million a season. I’ve written about that a number of times on this site. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the Dodgers have $5-7 million left (after setting aside money for potential bonuses), as Eric Stephen opines here. If they add Darvish at $25 million a season, they’d be $20 million over the luxury tax. A 62 percent tax (50 percent for the sixth straight year being over, plus a 12 percent surtax) on that would be about $12.5 million. Seeing as Darvish would probably bring in more than $12.5 million in value, it doesn’t sound that bad.”

    The folks at DD suggest that the real reason to stay under the limit is to be able to sign Bryce Harper and to retain Kershaw. “Some have/will call me a shill. That’s fine. I believe this front office doesn’t want to carry a $300 million payroll yearly, nor should it have to. I also believe it’ll use its ample financial advantage to continue to improve the team. A free agent like Harper comes along once in a generation and the Dodgers would be foolish to not make every effort to sign him (and retain the face of their franchise in Kershaw).”

    I for one do not believe that the Braintrust has any intention to sign any big ticket free agents next year – other than maybe to retain Kershaw if he opts out. I expect next years’ payroll to stay under the limit.

    1. I will never predict what they might do. I did not think they would sign Turner and Jansen, but unlike what some think, it is not about the money. It is about the ROI, sustainablity and practicallity. FAZ will not over pay. They might pay around $300 million for Harper, but not $400 million.

      Almost 75% of the big contract dole-out since A-Rod in 2001 have been bad deals. Ask Arte – he had two boat anchors.

      1. I don’t believe Harper will get $400 million. He will top Stanton’s deal because he’s a better all-around ballplayer but I don’t see $400 million.

    2. Its not just the money. A team that spends above $237MM will also have its top draft pick lowered ten spots, unless that pick is in the top six, in which case the team’s second pick will be lowered ten spots.

      1. Right now, no team is in danger of hitting that $237M mark. If Boston signs JDM for $25M AAV, their reported max, they would have a luxury tax salary level of $230,284,600. They are currently at the 20% tax. The next closest are the Nats with a current luxury tax salary at $201,608,976, and they are at the 30% tax.
        .
        The Giants are just below the luxury tax threshold at $194,862,123, and are currently at the 50% tax. They have less than $3M to spend for any trade deadline deals. So they are going to have to win with what they have, or spend to go over $197M and stay in the 50% tax.
        .
        The $237M is absolutely the “do not approach number” for any team.

  20. If Darvish could be had at 5/100, I’m in. At the end of the season, the Dodgers have Forsythe $9 million, Ryu $6 million, and Grandal $8 million, coming off of the books. The following season they have Hill $16 million, Puig $8 million and Kemp $20 million coming off of the books. Sorry, if I’m off a million or two. Puig will likely be more after his arbitration year. There is also a bunch of money being paid to other teams this year If Kershaw opts out and re-signs he isn’t going to get a substantial raise in my opinion. It will be about length of contract. Bringing back Darvish, being a player for Harper, and re-setting the luxury tax penalty all at the same time isn’t out of the question. The Dodgers only have $126,000,000 committed to 2019 and that includes $32 million for Kershaw.

    Also signing Darvish before moving a Kemp might be a risk, but look at it this way. The Twins are a team that could use an RH DH like Kemp. Do you think they’re going to deal for Kemp before Darvish is signed? I don’t think so. They aren’t going to help the Dodgers clear space when they also want Darvish. However, if Darvish is off the market and they turn their attention to a Cobb or Lynn then they may engage in a Kemp trade.

    1. I think that if FAZ could have traded Kemp by now, they would have.

      The market may open up after he shows he is healthy and can produce (if he can).

      Maeda’s possible bonues also skew the issue too.

      1. This market is so strange. Baltimore has 2 SP’s that they can pencil in and they’ve done nothing.

      1. Arruebarenna: It’s actually $6.5 M and is gone after this year. Toscano goes from $1.8 M to 200 K in 2019 then he is done. Olivera is at $4.67 M 2018 to 2020. Not sure about Kemp: he is listed at $21.75 M for each of the next 2 seasons plus has a $3.5 M payment going to the Padres. Seems like a double dip as the Pads were sending $2.5 M of the $3.5 M to the Braves and now he’s back with the Dodgers. They are also picking up $2 M for Avilan that is gone after 2018.

        I would also go 5/100 for Darvish…they need another RHP in the rotation and he provides insurance if Kershaw leaves. Puig changing agents signals to me he may want to negotiate an extension after this season. Another strong season and good behavior could raise his market value significantly.

  21. The Dodgers currently have a luxury tax salary level at $179,588,886, more than $17M under the threshold. So any of the reported proposed offers from other teams to Darvish go well north of that amount, and unless the Dodgers can unload a large amount of Kemp’s contract, it is highly unlikely that he will be signed by FAZ. Darvish is reportedly still requesting a deal at the Stephen Strasburg level.
    .
    I agree with Mark that if Kemp could have been traded, he would have been. The slowness of the off-season has not benefited the Dodgers in trying to move him. There are way too many OF’s still available for a lot less salary than Kemp. He will go to ST and be showcased. But that will not be in time to sign Darvish, who I get the sense will sign before pitchers and catchers report next week.
    .
    Darvish is a luxury. FAZ traded for Darvish for the Playoffs, not to get into them. They will not need Darvish to make the playoffs this year either. They will go into the season with Kershaw/Hill/Wood/Maeda/Ryu as the rotation. At the trade deadline, they will re-evaluate what pitchers might be available, but not before then. Buehler/Stripling/Stewart and later Urias will all start at least one game, so FAZ has the 162 game season covered. What still needs to be determined is whether there is a top of the rotation pitcher who may be available at the deadline.
    .
    The Dodgers, as they stand now, do not need anyone to get to the playoffs. They may need to make moves at the trade deadline to give them a better chance in the playoffs to come out with the WS trophy.
    .
    With respect to Maeda, he earned an additional $4.9M last year:
    $150K for making the team.
    $3.5M for 25 starts
    $1.25M for 134 1/3 IP.
    .
    His next big bonuses come with:
    30 starts ($.5M) – highly unlikely
    and $150K for each of 140 IP, 150 IP, and 160 IP. I do not see him going above 150, but we can assume 160 for this exercise (thus another $450K).
    .
    We can project Maeda to make $5.35M in bonuses.
    .
    Tom Koehler can realistically make $500K in bonuses. He will not start 10 games nor finish 22 games, so those incentives do not figure in the calculation.
    .
    Total projected incentive bonuses equate to $5.85M. That will leave about $11M – $12M to spend at the trade deadline without moving any existing contracts, so they should have more than sufficient luxury tax cushion to make any move they feel is warranted and still be below the luxury tax threshold.

    1. Darvish isn’t getting Strasburg money. If he had been offered that type of money he would have signed. So far, all I’ve heard is that he has multiple 5-year deals on the table. We know the Twins and Brewers have made offers. I agree this market has complicated the ability to move Kemp.

  22. AC – you have a great way of explaining things.

    Could the Dodgers not back load a contract for Darvish to keep under the threshold this year?

    He’s a legitimate #2 – they are Gold dust & he wants to come.

    Surely with their Brainpower, they cabuget it done?

    1. Thank you. No to your question. The luxury tax salary is based on AAV. Total contract + signing bonus divided by number of years of the contract. As an example, Kershaw will earn $35.5M this year, but his AAV is $30.7, and that is the amount that is used for luxury tax purposes.

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