More Thoughts on a Salary Floor

I posted this to an old thread out in MLB land, so I figured I would repost it here. The original article argued for a division realignment and expansion (so you would have 8 4 team divisions) and for eliminating the wild card. What follows is my response, built on the quick thoughts I scribbled yesterday.

I don’t think baseball needs a salary ceiling as much as it needs a floor. Rather than instituting a cap, I would push for a more realistic luxury tax. If you look at the luxury tax rules [wikipedia], then you can see that the MLB luxury tax is set impractically high, such that only the Yankees are ever really in danger of crossing the threshold. By implementing a realistic cap, say at 100 million dollars (to throw out a figure that represents about the top 33% percentile in payrolls–9 teams have salaries over 100 million this season[cbssports.com]), you could produce a revenue sharing system that would help teams like the Marlins, the Pirates, and the Nationals meet a 65 million dollar floor.

Of course, the baseball owners will never agree to such a revenue sharing system. This is the system that propelled the NFL to the top of America’s sports landscape, and we can see those owners are ready to repeal the very system that stimulated their growth. Instead of expansion, the long-term prognosis for the current economic ecology probably dictates a bit of extinction. Teams at the bottom will likely never get the opportunity to compete. I get that the league has a fair amount of competitive balance at the top, but its ridiculously unfair for those teams at the bottom.

The only other thing I would disagree with is getting rid of the wild card. The wild card allows good teams in the same division as great teams a chance to compete for the title. Nothing is more annoying than watching a team in the AL West make the playoffs when a third place team in the AL East has a better record against tougher competition. I remember how much more annoying it was when you had to watch lesser teams make the playoffs over second place teams in better divisions. Let’s not go back to that.

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2 comments

  1. raysfanboy

    Interesting stuff. I agree that a stronger “cap” would help keep more teams in the running, but something like that would do little for the Rays and Pirates and Royals who have to contend with big spenders like the Yanks/Sox, Tigers/White Sox, and Cubs/Cards, respectively. Thos big spenders care little for caps and luxury taxes. The small market teams have a Cinderella’s chance in hell (is that a saying?) of making the playoffs. Makes what the Rays did a few years ago all the more impressive.

    It is frustrating, though, as an AL East watcher to see the top 3 teams in the AL in the same division, with only two of them being able to advance. Why not take the top 4 in the entire league instead? Nobody knows the answer, so let’s just play on, I guess.

    http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

  2. joefromnewhampshire

    While a floor isn’t a bad idea, it forces teams like the Marlins to change the way they do business. And if the Marlins know they can never spend with the upper tier of teams, then they won’t want to change their way of doing things. I think a floor could be used, but I believe some kind of cap is needed too. Or something to prevent a huge spending gap between the top and bottom…

    http://www.statisticianmagician.com/

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