I guess you could argue that the Seattle Mariners became a “big spender” this offseason when they signed Robinson Cano to the ill-advised 10-year deal worth $240 million. However, there is a reason that this contract was seen by many as a desperate move.
Signing Cano is a result of bigger problems in Major League Baseball.
Specifically, the economic disparity continues to be an issue that no owner seems concerned with rectifying. Baseball needs a salary cap…and a salary floor. Cap the spending of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Require spending by the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Dodgers are the latest team to exploit the system, as they are truly becoming “Yankees West.” I have always like the Blue Crew, Dodger Stadium and Vin Scully. However, this franchise is going to ruin baseball. Clayton Kershaw has just signed for $215 million, and now the Dodgers are apparently going after Masahiro Tanaka.
I have never bought into the theory that the Mariners were the favorite to sign Tanaka, and if the Japanese pitcher signs in Los Angeles, that intial suggestion will look all the more ridiculous. We may eventually find out that the Mariners never had even a remote shot at signing Tanaka.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers keep spending and they might eventually be the first team with a $300 million payroll. Nothing like a little parity in professional sports, right?
Yes, the Mariners do now have two marquee contracts in Cano and Felix Hernandez, so they aren’t exactly fighting the system wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that is probably it. The rest of the payroll may be youngsters and broken-down veterans that are looking to extend their careers.
Of course, there is the tired argument that money does not buy titles. That is true. The Oakland A’s are the ongoing poster child for this argument. However, if you look at the statistics, money does buy one thing: ongoing chances. Specifically, chances at the postseason. Fans remember when the sabermetrics work for the A’s, but they conveniently forget when they fade out of contention. The A’s finished in first place in 2012 and 2013. Prior to that, the A’s hadn’t finished in first since 2006.
Ultimately, baseball doesn’t seem to care if they are antiquated or have a lack of competition. Until the league figures out a more balanced economic system, teams like the Mariners will be forced to perennially “wait until next year” or make desperate financial moves.