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If you think players make too much money via arbitration …

Jan 17, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT

stack of money

Yesterday and today the site has been overrun with posts about arbitration-eligible players and teams avoiding hearings with one-year contracts, which has led to an incredible number of comments basically complaining about the money players are paid.

That’s not an uncommon sentiment expressed in the comments section here year-round, but it’s particularly prevalent today as the usual complaining about overpaid athletes combines with some confusing aspects of the arbitration process.

I’m certainly not going to disagree with the notion that, say, Juan Carlos Oviedo getting $6 million seems like an awful lot for a non-elite reliever, but it’s also important to remember how the economics of baseball tend to work. There are some exceptions, of course, but in general team payrolls are directly related to team revenues, so if you think players are paid too much you’re basically saying that owners should pocket more.

And does anyone really want to make that argument?

  1. derekjetersmansion - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Not this garbage again.

    • yankeesgameday - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      It’s all about revenue sharing and luxury taxes. Juan Carlos Oviedo isn’t being paid by the Marlins to pitch for them, he is being paid by the Yankees and the YES network to pitch for the Marlins.

      That’s why the players make so much in arbitration. Do away with revenue sharing and there won’t be enough money for poor teams to be forced into paying fringe relievers $6 million bucks through arbitration and then the whole escalation of salaries will come back down to earth.

      As Newt Gingrich would say, bud selig Is the welfare state food stamp commissioner.

      • JBerardi - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:01 PM

        As Newt Gingrich would say, bud selig Is the welfare state food stamp commissioner.

        He probably wouldn’t say that because Bud Selig is white.

      • jerseydevi1 - Jan 18, 2012 at 10:53 AM

        So wait, my comment asking for backing and stating facts gets chopped, but the accusatory, baseless slam of a politician by jberardi stays? He makes the racism accusation and my comment gets chopped.

        really??

        Wow, first post in a while and it got deleted. Back to the shadows I guess.

  2. Joe - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    No, nobody wants to make that argument.

  3. koufaxmitzvah - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Maybe the players should be paid less and the owners cut prices on tickets?

    But I’m a dreamer, Dottie.

    • lardin - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      The only way that happens, is if the popularity of the game goes in the tank, attendance falls, and TV Ratings plunge. Yes they are down, but not to the point where it affects the owners bottome line. Start effecting the owners pockets and prices will change.

      • kopy - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        Pretty much this. If owners cut ticket prices, then demand for tickets would go up. This may be a good thing in some places, but many other places already pretty much sell out their stadium year round. Then the money would go into the pockets of ticket brokers who buy them at face value and resell them to the masses at an increased rate anyway, or the folks who are fortunate enough to have season tickets and sell the games they don’t want to attend.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        It’s not going to happen because it’s not going to happen. But to suggest that baseball’s popularity will have to go in the tank in order for more “normal” players’ salaries, it bears to keep in mind how it wasn’t until after the second baseball strike that cost us the World Series that players’ salaries really started to skyrocket.

        In the ’80s, players were competing for to be the “highest paid player in the game” and those salaries were around $2.5-3 million. And baseball was really popular in the ’80s.

        BTW: I still have my tickets from closing weekend of the strike shorten season. Reserve section, Dodger Stadium, 7 rows up down the 1st baseline = $12.00.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        Popular? Yes.

        Nearly as profitable? Absolutely not. Baseball salaries have exploded right behind revenues.

    • cur68 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      Dreamer, yes. Wrong? No.

    • nategearhart - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      Player salaries don’t dictate ticket prices, supply and demand do. If enough people will pay a certain price to fill your stadium every game, why on earth would you charge less?

      • dluxxx - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

        It seems to me that salaries are more dependant on TV money than stadium sales. Not that tickets aren’t a large part of revenue, but some of these TV deals (see Yankees, Angels, Rangers, etc) give the teams a lot more spending power than they once had.

        Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • nategearhart - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        That’s correct.
        I don’t care if the Red Sox run out a team of David Ecksteins making league minimum. If enough people will pay $50 per seat to fill Fenway every game, then the owners will (and should) charge it.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        Could… yes. Should?

        Why would one charge less…. To benefit society by allowing affordable entertainment? By maintaining the availability of a civic asset for all of society, and not just the wealthy few who can afford the luxury? By proving that, yes, Frank McCourt can live a life that doesn’t involve 7 houses, a private jet, and 1st class hotel stays when the wifey throws you out on your duff.

    • 18thstreet - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      College athletes aren’t paid at all (guffah). Are the tickets free? Do they never increase in price?

      The price of tickets is not related to player salaries. Period.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        That’s not quite correct – it would be more accurate to say that the price of tickets is not dependent on player salaries. Ticket prices are one of the many input factors that determine player salaries.

    • foreverchipper10 - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      PEE WEE HERMAN!

      • cur68 - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:38 PM

        Thanks chipper. That’s been bugging me all day.

  4. phillieschamps2012 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    What I tire of is the philosophy that if the players don’t get paid, the owners will just pocket the money. Guess what? The owners should pocket more of the money and give less money to the players. Why? Because the owners are the ones that worked their asses off all of their lives to create a successful business that provided them the monetary means to purchase a professional franchise. They took all the risk and should reap the rewards.

    Of course players make too much money. Anyone that can look into the mirror and say that they are paid what they are worth are fooling themselves.

    On another note, almost everyone nationally crucified the Phillies for the Papelbon deal. Said they overpaid for him. Funny I haven’t heard other signings (namely “non-elite” relievers) who were overpaid too get criticized. I guess the Phillies are the only team that can overpay for a player. What hypocrisy.

    • lardin - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      Its called paying the market rate. Players get paid what the market bares, at least with free agents. For a perfect example, look at the fact that AJ Burnett makes more money the Mariano Rivera. In what world is that right? When you are on the open market you are worth a whole more.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        I’ll put it this way. If the owners had the balls to do it, they should collude across the board to lower salaries. It’s actually the owner’s fault that these salaries have reached these immoral, insane levels.

      • jwbiii - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        I’ll put it this way. After MLB was found to be colluding in 1990, they were hit with a $280M fine. They paid for this with the expansion fees of the four 1990s expansion teams. MLB revenue has increased about 400% since then, so you would have to figure that a similar suit would lead to a fine of about $1.1B, unless it was higher due to the MLB being a repeat offender. Since there is unlikely to be any expansion in the near future, the money would come out of the owners’ pockets and likely would result in higher priced tickets.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:05 PM

        So the owners should break the law? Nice.

    • nategearhart - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

      But the guys doing the actual work that makes the owners rich (and make no mistake, you rake in serious cash owning a baseball team) shouldn’t get as much as they can? Why not? The owners DO reap the rewards. Plenty of them.
      I don’t know who you work for, but I’m sure they’d love to put your philosophy on paying baseball players to practice at your company.

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        In regards to your comment and with all due respect, I really think people don’t understand the difference between being well compensated for the job they do (in this case a professional athlete) and being paid an immoral, ungodly salary. What’s enough money for a player? 20, 30, 40, 50 million dollars a year? Where does it stop?

        Once again, the owners are to blame for this madness.

      • nategearhart - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:35 PM

        Don’t look at it as a flat number (20, 30, 40, 50 million dollars a year), but rather as a percentage of the profits. If MLB brings in, say, 100 million a year, then of course paying players up to 20 million a year is bad business. But if revenue is around 10 billion? Then yeah, 400,000 to 20 million is a reasonable cut of that pie.

      • nategearhart - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        “Where does it stop?”
        It stops when revenue stops going up. As long as revenue increases, you better believe the amount that owners pocket increases, too.

    • normcash - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Oh brother! What an inane comment! The “owners should pocket more of the money”…you actaully think they wouldn’t if they thought they could? It’s called the “free market” pal.

      The players work their asses off too…and they are paid exactly what they are worth to the owner who pays them; otherwise they wouldn’t be paid what they are. Nobody holds a gun to the head of any owner. This complaint sounds like the kind of thing you’d hear from one of those Tea Party types who keeps voting for policies that guarantee gross income disparities and then pisses and moans about it. Talk about clueless!

      • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        I know what a free market is and how it works. And the owners could lower salaries if they had the balls to quietly collude and agree to not pay these players these insane salaries. It’s 100% the owner’s fault that these salaries have become ridiculous. Do you think any human being is worth a 300 million dollar contract (A-Rod) or a 265 million dollar contract (Pujols). My god. And I’m the one who’s clueless? It’s called common sense.

      • heynerdlinger - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        So let me get this straight… No human is worth $300M, unless that human is one of the 30 baseball owners who’d be pocketing the 20, 30, 40, or 50 million a year instead.

        I know a troll is and how they work, too.

      • scottp9 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:32 PM

        Yes, too bad the owners don’t have the balls to break the law and their contract with the players in order to retain even more of the industry’s revenues than the 60+% that they already don’t pay the players, those insignificant employees whose talents are the only reason that any of us are willing to pay attention to the sport and provide the revenue for it.

        Definitely a troll; nobody here’s really that dense.

    • normcash - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      Personally, I think a good teacher or scientist is worth more than Albert Pujols. So what?
      I’m not paying Pujols salary—the Angles’ owner is and he thinks Pujols is worth it. I don’t think Tom Cruise is worth what they pay him either. And I certainly don’t think the bank CEOs who drove the economy off the cliff are worth it—but their boards of directors did. This whole notion that there is some objective measure of worth is really stupid. Under a market system things have the value the market assigns. There is a system where worth is a matter of executive fiat—it was called communism. And didn’t that work out well!

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      “Because the owners are the ones that worked their asses off all of their lives to create a successful business that provided them the monetary means to purchase a professional franchise.”

      Are you arguing that baseball is popular because of the owners? I mean, surely you’re not because that would be the single dumbest thing I’ve ever written on this board and I responded to Halladay’s Biceps on many, many occasions.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:07 PM

        Just like you’re responding to him now.

  5. Francisco (FC) - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    People probably wonder if at any point of time, cutting down team payroll might mean cheaper seats in the stadium. Answer: Hell NO.

    In all fairness the majority of the folks talking about players making too much money in arb is more related to the perceived value of such a player free of team payroll context rather than actually demanding an owner pay less to a player. Most would instead lean in favor of still spending those same bucks but for a better player (assuming you can get one at same cost).

    • chadjones27 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      Agreed
      Only in rare cases has cutting payroll meant cheaper tickets. I think it’s the Mets that are this exception. I believe they lowered ticket prices, but that was to generate more ticket sales in their new ball park.
      I can’t foresee any owner saying, “well, we cut $25 million, let’s lower seat prices so we break even.” The lower payroll may mean that they don’t raise prices, but I doubt it’s a direct relationship.

  6. natsattack - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    It used to be you get get a pay cut in arbitration.

  7. Jonny 5 - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Know who else gets too much money too? Strippers do. Strippers and politicians. Actually anything more than 100 bucks a week is more than many politicians deserve.

    • phillieschamps2012 - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      Personally, I’d rather see strippers making millions of dollars a year instead of ballplayers. To me, they are the truly gifted “ballplayers”.

      • nategearhart - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM

        You just earned your first thumbs-up from me. Golf clap, sir. (As opposed to stripper-clap, which is gross).

    • cur68 - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      Hey, some of those people work damn hard in the public interest. Late nights. Little thanks. Often short careers. All for the good of others. Don’t be dissin’ on them, even by associating them in the same sentence with amoral, money grubbing, attention ho’s. Strippers deserve better.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        I’m shamed. I really am… I’ve only seen these “strippers” at the three-four different bachelor parties I’ve been to. I should have worded my statement better actually. Nights while I’m around strippers make too much money.

  8. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    I’ve paid $50 for a Cubs ticket. I’ve paid $5 for a Cubs ticket. Within a year. With the same payroll.

    Why the change? The $5 ticket came at the end of the year, when demand was nil.

    Players are rich because the owners are rich. And if both sides are happy, I don’t give a rip what they make, so long as the labor agreements continue to be this amicable.

  9. crpls - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    The owners, players, agents, networks and fans all have responsibility in rising prices.

    Also, to the genius going on about collusion, even ignoring it’s against the CBA, they did that in the 80s. Worked out well for them!

    • scottp9 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      I believe the bill was $280 million, or $10 million per franchise (at the time).

  10. tridecagon - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    In many places, tickets sell out and so prices are determined by supply and demand.

    But they could sure make the beer and hot dogs cheaper.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:55 PM

      I miss the Hebrew National dogs at Wrigley, too.

      Hot dog prices at Fenway are the worst I’ve seen.

  11. deadeyedesign23 - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    If you don’t like how arbitration works (and yes it is broken in many cases) the alternative is that a player becomes a free agent at that time. Which I would be all in favor of. This is America, a player is worth 1 dollar more than what someone else is willing to pay him.

    • heynerdlinger - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:13 PM

      McNulty: If Snotboogie always stole the money, why’d you let him play?
      Witness: You got to… This is America, man.

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