Adrian Beltre is reportedly close to signing a one-year contract with a one-year option with the Boston Red Sox for $9 million, $5 million for the option year with a $1 million buyout. Read more to see why we believe this signing proves MLB needs a salary cap.
For those of your scoring at home, the Red Sox already have $12 million invested in Mike Lowell at 3rd base for 2010, who recently had surgery on his hand. That makes $21 million that Red Sox 3rd basemen will take home in 2010, which, if we were counting Lowell/Beltre as a single player, would be the third highest player in MLB behind Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and by the slimmest of margins, Derek Jeter.
Why does this deal make us think the MLB needs a salary cap? Consider Lowell’s $12 million dollar 2010 salary, which is somewhere in the top 40 salaries in the Major Leagues. When a player making that kind of money goes down with a significant injury, that kills the ability for 80-90% of MLB teams to do anything but replace that player in the interm with the highest qualified minor league prospect. In the long run, you can bet that kind of injury would cost the typical MLB team between 4-8 wins per year based on the typical $12+ million dollar player’s value over a average minor league replacement. The solution for the big market teams? Toss another $9 million onto the payroll, which, would make Beltre the highest paid player on the Marlins, Pirates, Padres, Orioles, and Nationals (and the 2nd highest paid on 2-3 other clubs).
Essentially, Beltre is a stop-gap for the Red Sox to get to the 2011 free agent market when Mike Lowell comes off the books, freeing up $20+ million to go crazy on the free agent market. The 2011 free agent market should have some big names in it, including Cubs 3B Armanis Ramirez, who holds a $14.6 million dollar player option after this season. You can to believe Armanis will turn down that option to try to sign one more long-term deal while he is a year younger (and the Red Sox have a spot to fill) and when the Red Sox (or Yankees) are players in the market, that makes the stakes, much, much higher. I’m calling for Ramirez to get 5-years for $100+ million from the Sox next year.
As a consolation prize, the 2011 market will also include right-handed slugging 3B Jorge Cantu, who, at 29, would be a couple years younger and tens of millions of dollars cheaper than Ramirez.
The current situation of MLB free agency goes like this – are any of the top 5 salary teams involved? If so, cross off the bottom 15, they can’t compete, and the one’s in the middle have to risk all their chips on that player to wrestle them away from the big boys. And if that player goes down with an injury? Season killer. If that players goes down with an injury on the top 5? Go out and spend another $10 million on the next best thing. What’s wrong with this picture?
With this being said – should the player’s get what is rightfully theirs? Absolutely. The worst argument that can be made is that a player isn’t worth what they are getting paid. As long as fans are paying $2k for one seat for one night to see A-Rod play, you better pay A-Rod his money, because they sure aren’t paying that to see anyone else in America do their job.
Different sport, same concept – look what happened when the Indianapolis Colts pulled all their starters in their last home game – fans want their money back. Why? Because while it is true they pay to see the Colts, they really pay to see the Colts win, and that means they actually pay to see Peyton Manning.