As you may remember, the Yankees went on a spending splurge and spent over $400 million on three players during the offseason. Those players were CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett.
This, not so shockingly, vaulted the Yankees to the top of the league.
Meanwhile, teams such as the Royals and Pirates didn't do anything because there was no way they were going to attain these players. The Royals and Florida Marlins actually made offers to CC Sabathia, but were blown out of the water by the Yankees.
This brings up the question, does the MLB need a salary cap?
Up to this point in the season, five of the six division leaders payroll is over $100 million. Also, the Cubs, who are half a game behind the leader in the N.L. Central, spend over $100 million.
Many people will say that payroll doesn't have anything to do with the success of a team, and will reference to last year's Tampa Bay team in the process.
One must remember that the Rays went through a decade of futility to build a roster in order to compete. It's clear that the teams in bigger markets are going to compete more often.
The Yankees have made the playoffs 12 of the last 13 years.
The Orioles haven't made the playoffs since 1995. The Royals haven't made the playoffs since 1985.
The Yankees payroll is over $200 million. The Orioles and Royals payrolls are both around $70 million. This clearly shows that payroll has a lot to do with a team's success. This is some revealing stuff, but how do you fix this?
Well it won't be a quick fix, but the MLB needs to institute a payroll cap in order to level the playing field.
My opinion? Set the cap at about $100-110 million. In order to make sure teams spend the money, you set a minimum salary cap at $50 million or so.
I feel this would help teams like the Royals, Orioles and Pirates, who can't outbid the Yankees or Red Sox for top-tier players. This would help level the playing field because it would give lower market teams a greater chance to compete. It may hurt the high payroll teams in the short term, but it would create a lot more parity in the MLB.
It would also bring fans back to places like PNC Park, Kaufman Stadium and Camden Yards, where teams use to play in front of packed houses.
This would make the free agency period more a matchup of wits and who can make the smartest moves, rather than a bidding war.
At the same time, it would ultimately decrease player salaries; but honestly, do players need to be making over $20 million per season?
It's unfair to expect a team like the Pirates or Royals in small television markets to outbid those in bigger markets. While the payroll cap wouldn't solve every team's problems, it would help small-marker teams who are smart about managing their talent and free agent signings.
Unfortunately, this is very unlikely to happen, because in the short term, it would hurt teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets, who would have to sharply cut salary.
This system sounds good to me, but baseball would risk losing interest from fans of the teams who just outbid every other team, whereas they would actually have to be savvy financially.