Baseball's Salary Cap Solution

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2008

Out-of-Control Spending Hurts Small-Market Teams

With the recent obsession over the Rafael Furcal-Atlanta Braves-Los Angeles Dodgers situation, the question has to be pondered, "Has baseball become a business?"  The answer to that question is an obvious, "Yes!" 

Every offseason, you see high profile players leave their home teams to play with those willing to offer outrageous amounts of money.  It bothers me to see the usual teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Mets throw around millions of dollars to attract these players away from their old teams.

Last year we saw a rare instance in which the Tampa Bay Rays, who held such a small payroll in 2008, made it all the way to the World Series.  You couldn't help but root for a team like that. 

In the case of the Rays, salary issues will cause them to have to break down and rebuild to maintain salary standards.  They will be forced out of competition within a few years because of one thing: MONEY.  Teams with five times the salary budget will build their rosters up to crush the smaller market teams.  It just doesn't seem right does it?

What is the answer to this situation?  Major League Baseball needs a salary cap.  The problem is where to place that cap.  With such a wide range of team budgets, it would be hard to put a number on it. 

For instance, a cap of $100 million would be so high that teams like the Marlins and the Rays still would struggle consistently in competing with those higher market teams.  On the other extreme, teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees would probably struggle to get under that salary cap. 

The Yankees, for example, would have to trim off about 60 percent of their contracts to get under that theoretical limit.  In reality, that would mean no CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and AJ Burnett.  Even cutting those big contracts would probably not be enough.

So Kevin, you say, what's the point of this article if you are just telling us what we need and why we can't do it?  Here is my offer of a solution to the need for a salary cap:

Combine a decent salary cap along with regulation on player contracts.  I could see it being wise to make arbitration cases mandatory.  Instead of paying players over $20 million a year, have a salary regulation based on stats, coach's ratings, and age. 

This would cut out the competition in free agency with concerns of who is offering the most money and put the focus on where the player wants to play.

Too often, I have seen players leave places they loved, choosing new teams because they offered extra money.  They play their contracts out and despise every minute.  The quality of play decreases and generally the fans of the team pick up on that. 

Obviously there are many loose ends in my idea, but I think it would be a good step in the right direction.  Anything we can do to keep players happy and maintain the purity of the game is worth considering.  If we can do that, baseball will be less of a business and become America's favorite pastime once again.