Of the next big names to cross the planes of arbitration in Major League Baseball, you might find yourself coming across names such as Rasmus, Bruce, Hughes, Chamberlin, Cueto, or Upton -- (twice). The next stock of brash, young superstars are all making their mark for a 'small' claim of the all American dollar!
But here in turn lies the question: who is more greedy, the player or the team signing them?
While most armchair Americans watching their favorite past time will continue to throw out ideas of what a player should make, or about how ridiculous it is that the Yankees have a player that makes more than all of the Florida Marlins do combined. Why is it that we should blame the future stars of baseball for asking for crazy money? There are teams that run their organizations head and shoulders better than 70% of the rest of the league. They run cheaper, more efficiently, but are they really benefiting?
Take for example the recent signing of Evan Longoria (6 years, 17.5 million or 2.7per) and for all intents and purposes leave out the bonuses because they're not for certain things. Arguably the most talented rookie in this year's class was sent down to Triple-A just prior to final roster cut so that the team could bring him back up after the deadline to give them that extra year of service and avoid arbitration hearings later in his contract. Longoria is expected to be the next Alex Rodriguez at third base (or at least offensively) if you will consider Rodriguez a true third baseman. There won't be much argument that Longoria will certainly be better defensively at the hot corner, but the offensive potential is endless. So why sign him now versus waiting to bring him up normally and continue to pay him the little salary he is currently signed at? It all comes full circle back to one thing - MONEY!
If Longoria even fulfills most of his potential on the field, the Rays will have made a huge play for one of the best players in the game at a position that's hard to come by value wise. The reason they sign him this quick is because if Longoria is still there at the end of six seasons, he's more likely to re-sign to stay with one team and it's cheaper on the team's payroll while he continues to build on his milestones. Sure you may argue about his loyalty to remain with what has been one of baseball's worst teams for its entirety, but look at what they are offering now. They have plans to open a new stadium in 2009-10 that looks to be one of (if not the) best stadiums in Major League Baseball. Not to mention they have one of the best farm systems in baseball, and they're going to continue getting better. By the time Longoria's first contract begins to come to an end, the Rays will be a contender.
So in hindsight the Rays look like complete genius' here, but what are the motives for the rest of MLB? Cincinnati has the likes of three players they will have to bargain with at the same time in Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and eventually Jay Bruce. The St. Louis Cardinals will have Colby Rasmus, and both the Rays & Diamondbacks with the Upton twins. While all are highly touted (and just these to name a few), and all will come with a high price tag, what do those teams have to offer those players other than money? The Rays we already know, and the Diamondbacks are a winning team. So what about the Cardinals and Reds? Both have newer ballparks, but neither farm system really blows you away, so could it be that players see the future outside the box and then force organizations to pay them the extra money to stay? The Yankees are building a new stadium, but that's not really why you play for the Yankees is it? No, it's because they'll pay anybody anything if they think you'll help them win (throw in Randy Johnson-Carl Pavano-Jason Giambi jokes here). Boston is a 'team first' organization that looks to get a new stadium sooner than later (and one could only hope they'll tear that one down and just build an exact replica where the old stood), and soon they'll be talking with Buccholz, Ellsbury, and who knows what else in their loaded system.
You could go on talking about every organization, but you'll continue to see the same thing over and over, no new developments and a lackluster farm system. So who do we blame for the economical blunders in baseball: the players or the teams? Or would you go as far to say that it's MLB's fault as a whole for not putting a cap on teams spending, and sharing the revenue with all teams top to bottom? You have to admit it's the worst idea in the world to know that you run a league where one player is actually making more than an entire team! I think Major League Baseball has to take a major step in restoring order, and regaining balance. Do I think it will happen? Probably not before Bill Clinton gets another term in office, but one can hold his breath. If you see me around, just ask for "Ole Blue".