Damned if you do-Damned if you don’t.
That is what baseball and baseball contracts have become in the 2000s. Players do well, they get huge salaries. Those salaries pull up the pay scale of the good player, and drags up what you have to pay mediocre talent too.
And now with the trading deadline sitting right in front of us, we see the end result. Teams out of the race, want to start to rebuild, and cannot move veterans to pennant contenders.
Why, the big city markets payrolls are bloated already, and no-one wants to take on massive salaries and give up tons of young talent.
Philadelphia needs to rebuild, but are choking on the 100M still owed to Cole Hamels, or the 60M due Cliff Lee and his ailing elbow. And they cannot give away Ryan Howard and his 25M a year deal that goes on and on. The Phillies handed out 5-massive contracts to those guys plus Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins when they were a World Series team. Now the team is older, somewhat injured, and definitely tied to the cross with big money deals.
Small market Tampa Bay ace David Price costs his club 14M this year; next year he will get 20M, just based on the arbitration numbers he would be due. Way too rich for the Rays budget, and pretty steep for other teams to take on. He might not get dealt today because they’re in the pennant race, but he will be dealt before next year.
Even mid-level players cost too much to deal. No one really wanted Chase Headley’s .220 batting average, his 10.5M contract, and the 14M he might get next year.
For every Angel franchise with a 120M payroll, there is a Cleveland forced to deal its ace Justin Masterson yesterday with free agency looming.
For every good season an established player gets, the price tag on somebody down the line goes higher.
It’s the system for sure, a system that now guarantees players 4.1M per year average salary. Think of that. Mediocre Mendoza line guys earn 4.1M, because the stars get 25M.
Damned with the amount of money you have to pay, damned if you can’t pay it too.
So when the rest of the trades happen today, remember it is as much about the contract, as it is the player in many of these deals.