Toronto Blue Jays

The Value of the Hometown Discount

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14: American League All-Star Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
Ian HunterCorrespondent INovember 12, 2009

 

It's a term that's been thrown around quite often during this week's MLB hot stove —"hometown discount." For those unfamiliar with the term, a hometown discount is when a player takes a bit of a pay cut to play in the city that they grew up in, has family in, or is where they started their career.

The problem with the hometown discount is that it seems like the valuation is at an astronomical level. To assume that a player would consider signing with club solely for the reason that it's their hometown is a bit ludicrous. While it may play some part in their decision, in my mind here are the top reasons why a player signs a contract with a particular team:

  1. The money
  2. The chance to win
  3. Proximity to home
  4. Strip clubs per capita

One such example was last year when AJ Burnett decided to opt out of his contract with the Blue Jays. Some speculated that he might sign with the Baltimore Orioles so he could be close to his wife Karen and their family in Maryland. Unfortunately, Burnett was tempted by the $82.5 million from the Yankees and the bright lights of New York.

Burnett's adversary and former mentor Roy Halladay could be one of the few exceptions to these rules. The team learned that Doc's number one priority was winning, followed by the opportunity to be close to home, and money was the least of his concerns. His Mormon lifestyle basically rules out any possibility for reason number four, but if he gets a few beers into him who knows what might happen.

Home for Halladay would either be in Colorado where he grew up, or in Florida where he lives during the offseason. If Doc places a lot of weight on which city he plays in, that means the Rockies, Rays or even the Marlins would be suitors for his services.

Another recent example involving the Blue Jays is the talk of trading Lyle Overbay to the Seattle Mariners. Overbay is well known to have grown up in Seattle and enjoyed the odd Vanilla Caramel Frappe from Starbucks while thrashing around in his plaid shirt listening to Pearl Jam.

This situation is a little trickier because Overbay is not a free agent and doesn't really have a choice about where he is traded. But if a player does in fact have a no-trade clause, the hometown discount may not have that much baring on their decision.

So the next time you see the phrase "hometown discount" thrown around in trade talk and free agent speculation, remember that most baseball players couldn't give a damn if the ballpark is 20 minutes from their backyard. Just like Puffy said, it's all about the Benjamins baby .

Whether they want to admit it or not, the true reason why they sign on the dotted line in a certain city is because of one reason ... strip clubs per capita. Don't believe me? Just ask A-Rod.

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