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Rob Manfred Needs to Implement a Salary Cap

When the shock of the Shohei Ohtani contract terms came out, the Los Angeles Dodgers deferred $68 of the $70 million of his contract every season. Legally. That’s how you know the sport needs a salary cap. Major League Baseball is exhibiting all the signs.

Bobby Bonilla jokes aside, this one has no interest, so it can’t balloon even further, but what it does is exploit the failed Luxury Tax that the league has. Now that this contract is out, why would another owner pay that tax ever again? Sure, players would have to agree to this, but if every big market team gets one star to do it, they’ve successfully circumvented the system. This isn’t sustainable, and this is why other sports adopted salary caps.

At a recent sports conference, Manfred said he wants to institute shorter contracts. Not as many years. Tony Clark on the MLBPA side said that players are against that. The NHL opted for eight years as their max, and that’s only for a player with their drafted team (and there is a loophole doing a sign and trade). But you can’t have nine or ten like baseball. That’s smart for the overall health of the sport. 

Baseball already has too many “have not” teams, and now with these mega deferred contracts, there is no cash dripping down to those teams. That’s not good for the sport. 

Most years there are five or six teams that pay that dumb tax. Has it helped the sport? No, it’s made teams try and circumvent it rather than pay it. That’s why change must occur. Manfred is signed through 2029, now would be the time.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN has an opt-out after 2025. 9.8 million viewers was the all-time low for the World Series until this year’s match-up with the Texas Rangers vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. All it takes is some lost TV revenue and less corporate support. That’s the cycle. 

Baseball is playing with fire. I’ll be curious to see what happens down the road.

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