Business of Baseball Report

Free Agent Spending Spree??

Jayson Stark did a great job of breaking down a little-known clause in the current Basic Agreement that could allow some teams to spend even more than in years past. The clause states that if a team wasn’t subject to the luxury tax in 2005, it wouldn’t be subject to the luxury tax in 2006 regardless of the team’s eventual payroll.

That means that 28 teams, no matter how much they decide to inflate their payrolls in 2006, will have no luxury tax. The only two teams that can incur a luxury tax liability are the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. For those two teams, the threshold is $136.5 million, and the Yankees will pay 40% of the excess over that amount because they’re a four-time offender.

Marlins Bring Out the Hammer

It’s a word that’s thrown out whenever a team wants a handout. The dreaded “R” word has been spoken. Florida Marlins president David Samson has said that the team has received permission from MLB to explore relocating due to the lack of progress on a stadium deal. He specifically stated that there would be no more fake deadlines (is this an admission that there were fake deadlines?) and that the team hasn’t secured a place to play when their current lease with Dolphins Stadium expires in 2010.

In the meantime, it appears that the team is going to shave payroll to send a message. Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell have already been traded, and AJ Burnett won’t be coming back. The usual suspects are being thrown around as options for a Marlins move. Las Vegas, northern New Jersey, Portland, Oregon, Monterrey, Mexico and Northern Virginia are all teams that were in the mix when the Expos were set to move. I think you can rule out Northern Virginia (too close to the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals) and Monterrey, Mexico, but that won’t stop the Marlins from using them to heighten the threat of the team moving.

Cardinals Owners Set to Purchase Stakes of Departing Owners

With current St. Louis Cardinals minority owner Robert Castellini’s impending purchase of the Cincinnati Reds, some shares of the Cardinals will be up for grabs. Cardinals chairman and general partner Bill DeWitt, Jr. has said that the remaining owners will buy up their respective shares of the team rather than bringing in a new ownership group. The Cardinals haven’t disclosed who owns what of the team, but it’s believed that Castellini owns approximately 10% of the Cardinals.

All Is Well With the Washington Nationals

According to MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy, the delay in naming a new owner of the Washington Nationals will have absolutely no bearing on how well the team does. Bud Selig’s chief henchman went on to say that any criticism is “patent nonsense,” while manager Frank Robinson has criticized the mystery surrounding the ownership selection process.

The lease between the city and the team is still the major sticking point. DuPuy said last week that he hoped to get the lease squared away sometime this week, but we all know how these deadlines come and go. “Sometime next week,” can be equated to “Sometime before 2008.”

Rogers Centre Makeover

Prior to the 2005 season, the former Skydome has had its name changed to the Rogers Centre and then had a video display system and a new playing surface installed. The Toronto Blue Jays announced last week that they’ll be making a few more cosmetic changes to the stadium prior to the 2006 season. The biggest change is a widening of the concourse around the field level seats, with three rows of chairs being removed. The club seating in the second deck will be refitted as well, and the luxury boxes will also be renovated. Some of the luxury boxes will be turned into larger party suites that can house as many as 150 people.

This and That At Home

This was an abbreviated Business of Baseball Report. There wasn’t much new happening. In case you missed it, Maury Brown did a nice column on the new joint drug agreement last week. Also, Vince Gennaro did a three part series on measuring the dollar value of a player. These are well worth reading.

Have a nice holiday weekend.

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