Over the next few seasons, some of baseball's brightest young stars will become free agents for the first time.
And while baseball fans like myself are excited to see how much money these young stars will get on the open market, simply thinking about a new contract must be a scary thought for the mid-level teams who simply do not have the salary structure to take on huge contracts.
Is there any possible way that the Indians can keep Grady Sizemore after 2012 if their payroll remains around $80 million?
And how in the world will the Twins be able to sign Joe Mauer after 2011 if their payroll refuses to rise from $65-$70 million?
The answer: there's simply no way...unless they plan on joining the 20 percent club.
You might be wondering, what exactly is the 20 percent club?
• Michael Young, Rangers: 2009 salary—$16 million; 2009 team payroll—$68 million (23.5 percent)
And here are some big names that just missed out on the 20 percent club:
• Carlos Lee, Astros: 2009 Salary—$18.5 million; 2009 team payroll—$102 million (18.1 percent)
• Francisco Cordero, Reds: 2009 Salary—$12 million; 2009 team payroll—$73 million (16.4 percent)
Now the question comes down to this: would any of these three teams be willing to make their young star (Fielder, Sizemore, Mauer) a member of the 20 percent club? Let's take a look:
First, if their payroll stays around $70-$80 million, then Fielder's contract would take up at least 25 percent of the Brewers' payroll. Can the Brewers compete if one fourth of their payroll is locked up with Fielder?
Plus, from 2013-2015, the Brewers will have to deal with the rising cost of Ryan Braun, whose contract will take up roughly 10 percent of the Brewers payroll. Now ask yourself: can the Brewers actually compete if almost 35 percent of their payroll is locked up in only two guys? I doubt it.
CC Sabathia: traded
Cliff Lee: traded
Victor Martinez: traded
Yikes. It's not looking too good for Sizemore and the Indians. On the open market, Sizemore can probably command a deal around $20 million per year, which is probably far outside the Indians' price range.
But I'll tell you this. The Indians need to keep Grady Sizemore. I'm not sure that I'd feel comfortable committing around 20 percent of the Indians' payroll to him. But at the same time, I think the Indians are somewhat obligated to trying to lock up Sizemore long term simply because they've already dealt so many young stars away.
Thoughts? Do any of these three have a chance to join the 20 percent club?
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