World Football's Transfer System: Could It Work In Baseball?
$200-plus million is a lot of money. And yes, there is a point to this rather obvious statement.
The transfer fees agreed to by Real Madrid last week for Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka were stunners, even by the inflated standards of world football.
Real's approach for much of the past decade has been the signing of veritable dream teams of world-renowned talents, known as "galacticos." Names like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Raul, Roberto Carlos, David Beckham, and now Kaka and Cristiano.
It's easy to spot the American equivalent in the one sport that enables its teams to spend whatever they can afford.
But what if Major League Baseball were to adopt the world football transfer system?
For those not familiar with it, one club offers a fee to a player's current team simply for the right to negotiate a new contract with him. Once the player agrees terms with the new club, the deal is concluded and the player relocates.
Think of it as in-season free agency, but with a player's current team being enriched rather than letting him leave for nothing.
The system would greatly enrich the players, as they'd be getting paid like superstars while their breakthrough seasons are still happening, rather than having to wait until the expiration of their current contracts.
Would baseball adopting this system lead to greater economic equality, as smaller-market teams would actually be able to receive large sums of cold hard cash for their top talent, instead of prospects who may be marginal at best?
Or would it simply be one more factor tilted in the favor of baseball's "Evil Empire" large-market teams?
The fact that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, et al. would have to pay the player a superstar's wage rather than what is quite likely a bargain of a salary may give the big-market clubs a little bit of a pause.
As an example, Zack Greinke's salary is listed at $3.75 million this season, which coincidentally, is the exact amount dug out of Hank Steinbrenner's couch after a drunken weekend bender.
That figure computes to $23,148 per game. If the Yankees wanted to pursue a cash transfer deal for Greinke, it stands to reason that they'd have to pay him like an All-Star with a sub-2.00 ERA immediately, in which case Greinke could easily double or even triple his salary overnight.
Dig, if you will, the picture of a tense Yankees-Red Sox division race coming down to the "transfer deadline."
Suddenly, the entire fate of the AL East could rest on the shoulders of, say, the Kansas City Royals, as both Boston and New York launch a frenzied bidding war for Greinke. Or they try to knock down the Marlins' door for Josh Johnson.
For sums that could conceivably exceed these small clubs' entire ticket revenue for the season, one player could ensure his former team's financial solvency for a decade.
Unfortunately, unlike some world football clubs who have long ago come to terms with their roles as farm clubs for the Premier League/La Liga big guns, fans of the Royals and Marlins (all 12 of them) would like to think their club is in business to win.
Frequent selling of the top talent could help enrich the club, but is there a guarantee that that cash would get put back into the payroll and stadium?
Are there current owners unscrupulous enough to simply ignore the current fan experience and sit back to light a cigar with a hundred-dollar bill brought in by the sale of a Cy Young Award candidate?
Nothing's impossible with exceedingly wealthy men, but if teams had the option between a trade for young players and a trade for dead presidents, which one would they choose?
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