(A note at the top: This piece is more a criticism of MLB than the Cincinnati Reds. However, it is my feeling that the Reds, as part of MLB are complicit in everything I discuss below. So far, the Reds have had an excellent offseason, but they are not yet a truly competitive team and could certainly do more.)
Something is going on in Major League Baseball. For the last two offseasons, all we’ve heard when it comes to free agents is excuses for why a player shouldn’t be signed. “He’s not worth it. He’s asking for too many years. We already have so-and-so. He’s too old.”
The reason free agent signings haven’t been happening is because owners don’t want to pay the players. They have never wanted to pay the players. Every work stoppage that has ever happened in baseball. Every legal fight between owners and players. It has all been because the owners – with their ridiculous anti-trust exemption – were working the system to give as little money as possible to players. And you know what? Fine. Run your business how you want to run it. But don’t expect me – your customer – to care or keep coming back when you refuse to provide the best product possible. Also, if you want to run it this way, I see no good reason for you to keep your anti-trust exemption.
Now the Reds, of course, have added payroll this year. They’ve made some trades and the team is better. Good. But they haven’t signed a free agent yet. And their are free agents out there who could help the team.
Dallas Keuchel is the best pitcher left on the market. Sign him. He wants 5 years? Cool. Paying Dallas Keuchel $20M a year for five years isn’t gonna make anyone in the ownership group go hungry. Sign Pollack, too. And Machado. Trade for Kluber, and then put that team on the field and go win 95-100 games.
Major League Baseball is a giant corporation with tons of revenue that is split amongst the various teams. Do we know how much revenue each particular team gets? No. But the rare glimpses we’ve seen into team books indicate that the age-old owner line about not wanting to make money, just win baseball games, is malarkey.
Further – and this is really worth noting – a lot of weight gets placed on player “value” often using the WAR/$ method. This is NOT a sabermetric stat. It is only a measure of how much of their profits owners are willing to devote to players on the open market. That really is all it measures and I know of no fan who should really be concerned with how many piles of money the local owner has to count.
If the Reds – or any team – want to open their books fully and be honest about revenue and their actual budget, then I will gladly listen and return to thinking about what the team can afford.
Until then? The only argument I care about is, “Will this player make the team better?” If the answer is yes, I want the Reds to sign him and I don’t care how much it costs the guys who are making money hand-over-fist. I don’t care if MLB’s owners get richer. I want to watch good baseball. If the owners can’t make money while putting a good product on the field, maybe they should go find a different industry to mess up.
The header photo for this article is used under a Creative Commons license, which can be found here. Original photo was slightly altered.