Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
December 13, 2006
Red Sox Rumored to Have Tampered in J.D. Drew Signing
While nothing official has been filed with the league office, several people are accusing the Boston Red Sox of tampering when it came to their biggest free agent signing to date. J.D. Drew walked away from a guaranteed $33 million over the next three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and eventually signed a five-year $70 million deal with the Red Sox. Many feel that Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, knew that he’d get a pay raise by opting out of his current contract because he had discussions with the Red Sox prior to Drew opting out of his contract. This also appears to have caused a rift between Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
Apparently several people at the general managers' meeting in November felt that the Dodgers should file tampering charges. Until the Dodgers do though, there’s little that the league can do in the affair. Boras is saying he did everything above board and that he even tried to get the Dodgers to extend their deal to get Drew to stay in Los Angeles.
Inflation is the Name of the 2007 Hot Stove
When a guy like Gil Meche signs a five-year $55 million deal, you know things have gotten out of hand. Or have they? In my 2006 Detroit Tiger preview, I talked about how Magglio Ordonez would never be worth his contract. Now, with the price tags that are flying around this year, that deal doesn't seem as outrageous as it initially did.
Alan Schwarz wrote an excellent column on how it’s hard to judge a player signing until a few years out once you see how the subsequent season’s free agency signings go. He uses the example of the Dodgers signing J.D. Drew to what seemed like a very high five-year $55 million deal, only to see Drew opt out of the contract after two years to make even more somewhere else.
Local Braves Telecasts Safe Despite Sale to Liberty Media
The negotiations between Time Warner and Liberty Media over the sale of the Atlanta Braves continue to drag on. At the same time, Liberty Media is negotiating a swap with News Corp that would send Liberty Media’s 19% stake in News Corp. in exchange for News Corp.’s stake in DirecTV, $550 million in cash and other News Corp. assets. The initial concern was that Liberty Media might try to push the Braves off of local television and onto DirecTV. This can't happen though because teams only control their local television rights, so the Braves would be seen on DirecTV under a league-wide agreement.
Royals Sign On With Fox Sports Midwest
Not all regional sports networks are created equal. While the Yankees and New York Mets have turned their networks into cash cows, other smaller-market teams haven’t quite been able to manage to get it work. Case in point: the Kansas City Royals. They started their own regional sports network, Royals Sports Television Network, back in 2003, and it looks like it’ll come to an end after the network shows 114 games in 2007.
The regional sports network wasn’t without its purpose though. There’s a good chance that Fox Sports Midwest, which will begin showing games in 2008, increased its price more than they would have paid without the competition from the regional sports network. Regardless, Royals’ fans should be happy because under the new deal that’s rumored to be a 12-year agreement, there will be at least 140 Royals games on television.
Orioles Fight Stadium Authority on New Scoreboard
The Baltimore Orioles plan to file a temporary restraining order to block the Maryland Stadium Authority from purchasing a $1.5 million Mitsubishi video screen for Camden Yards. The Orioles contend that the screen is too small and technologically inadequate and that the team’s lease prevents the authority from purchasing the screen without the stadium's approval. The authority wants to get moving so the screen can be installed by Opening Day.
Both sides are also disputing how the screen will be paid. The authority feels the screen should be part of the $10 million fund that’s allotted towards ballpark improvements while the team feels the authority should pay for the screen outright.
Appalachian League Could Enter 2007 Season With Only Nine Teams
When the Toronto Blue Jays dropped to a league-minimum five minor league affiliates, it came at the expense of the Appalachian League. Now with only nine teams, the league will be forced to institute an unusual schedule which would have one team off at all times. There was a thought to having a co-op team for several major league teams, but it looks like there’s no demand around the league.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.