The Best Job in the World

Friday 22 November 2002

I've said it before but I'm going into more detail this time: the entire baseball contract/salary structure is FUBAR. I'm mad about this because of the 3-team Mike Hampton deal that just happened. Basically, two years ago, Hampton signed an 8-year, $121 million deal with the Rockies. Now, both parties want out of the deal. He's been traded to the Marlins and then the Braves, with all three teams paying some of that immense salary. It's touted (and is) a win-win situation for everybody, but I think it detracts from the purity of the game. When a team commits a ton of money to a player, and the player accepts, both parties should have to honor the deal - not for one or two years, but for the entire duration of the contract signed. Otherwise, why sign a contract at all? No, instead, what happens is deals like this one, where a team cuts salary and a sub-performing player gets another chance somewhere else. I claim that this is a fundamental component of the current rising-salary financial problem with baseball, in which 4 of every 5 big contracts never end as signed.

An ideal solution would be a graded, performance-based pay scale, in which the players got paid based on hard stats (offense, defense, pitching, whatever.) This would happen yearly. The maximum yearly salary would be awarded to the players who performed the best, and other salaries could be graded down from there. If they don't want to play or if they play below what they're capable of, fine --- it gets reflected in their paychecks, just like us normal people. Hmm, come to think of it, monthly would be a better metric for this system.

I realize that this violates the players' rights and prevents teams from budgeting, and thus it (or anything like it) will never happen, but I wanted to get it off my chest.