There is no questioning the fact that the teams with the most dinero
have the edge when it comes to the free agent market - just look at the Yankees during the entire Big Stein era. It's incredibly tough for a small market team like the Rockies or Marlins to score a big-name, highly desirable free agent, simply because they can't afford to offer the contracts that the likes of the Mets, BoSox, or Yankees can. These days, though, it looks like the tide is changing
and fewer players are in the market and up for the taking every year.
Why might this be, you ask (or not, you may already know what I'm getting at, smarty-pants)? Tis simple: teams are wising up and locking up their young players early
(did you get the answer right? CONGRATS! You win a prize - the satisfaction of being insightful). I don't know why the hell it took so long for so many teams to realize the plethora of benefits to such a modus operandi. I know it has been standard operating procedure for the occasional club in the past, but it seems to be only in the recent years that the philosophy has really caught on throughout the league.
As I mentioned, there are reasons aplenty for locking up your youngsters ASAP. Wanna know them? I'll answer for you: SURE, YC! Bring it on! Hit me with your best shot!
- By delaying the time that a player will be come a FA, the fans can get more attached and henceforth more faithful to the team itself. Just look at Grady Sizemore - he's attracted an entire contingent of women that are now devoted to the Indians that likely weren't big baseball fans before.
- The fewer free agents on the market, the better for those smaller market teams. Less need to extend 90% of your total payroll on one big name when you have you a roster full of guys that you're paying far less. Additionally, a lot of these contracts include a team option at the completion of the contract, allowing them to get the guy at a discount yet again should they so desire.
- On that note, it obviously benefits the teams by letting them get the players at a steep discount. When you sign a 21-year-old kid for 6 years, you're are potentially saving tens of millions of dollars that you'd have to expend on a similar player a few years later.
- For the players, the security and guaranteed decent salary has got to feel good. By knowing that you're not going anywhere (unless you're traded, of course, but let me go on with my point and ignore that for now) allows you to focus on your game and become loyal and fully invested in the future of the team. Take a look at David Wright of the Mets: in 2006 he was given a 6-year extension deal worth $55 million dollars, which is certainly no chump change for a 25-year-old kid.
The main downfall to this philosophy is that it can be extremely difficult to project the future of a 21-year-old kid. If the team is wrong or a horrible season-ending injury should occur, the team will either be stuck continuing to pay or have to trade him for far less than he used to be worth. Being a scout is now a more lucrative position then ever
, as ball clubs need to rely even more heavily on their expertise when deciding to invest in their youngsters! Let's all be jealous of their job security as we all lose our jobs in this rapidly sinking economy :(
Labels: free agency/arbitration, other teams