Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where will all the new TV money go -- nationally and the Pirates?

For the 2014 season, new national TV contracts kick in from ESPN, TBS, and Fox.  All together, each team's share will go from $23M to the range of $50M, per team, per year.  That's an increase of $27M.

With all this extra money being injected into the game, it's only logical to think that it's going to get reflected in free agents this offseason.  After all, min-scale salaries are governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and will still hover around $500,000.  Arbitration is heavily based off of counting stats and previous contracts, so any change in salaries there will be gradual.

This is the season of crazy contract demands, such as Robinson Cano wanting 10yr/$305M and Ervin Santana and his $100M contract demands.  Both of those guys are probably going to get 60% of those demands in the end.  Cano's case is interesting because his market is so, so limited, especially when he comes out with that number.  There are maybe 5 teams that can afford him -- Yankees, Dodgers, Mets, Angels, and Red Sox.  The Mets are still building a contender and have said they don't want to spend on Cano.  The Red Sox have Pedroia.  The Angels have Howie Kendrick (who they're looking to move to re-allocate payroll to pitching) and a host of bad contracts already.  The Dodgers just signed a Cuban ex-pat to play 2B.

So that leaves the Yankees, realistically.  And they aren't going to bid against themselves, one would think.

Players like Shin-soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury will be in demand and they'll definitely get overpaid by someone, but it's hard to see it being a "good Lord" overpay.  I suppose it's possible that the middle tier of free agents, like a Scott Feldman/Phil Hughes type, will be the ones to benefit the most from the influx of TV money.  I can see some pitching needy team like the Twins or Rockies dropping a ton of shantovoes on them.

The Pirates are an interesting case, as they have already said that dedicating the $14.1M qualifying offer to A.J. Burnett would occupy too much of their offseason budget.  I've estimated that including arbitration cases (and non-tendering Garrett Jones) and pre-existing salary commitments the Pirates payroll stands at $60M going into 2014.  It was $65M on opening day 2013, plus they had a strong attendance season, and new TV revenue.

You would think that $75 to $80M would be a realistic payroll figure.  Some teams may be allocating a portion of that new TV money to paying down heavily leveraged debt.  That's their prerogative to do so.  But many teams are going to put it towards payroll, so you don't want to be left behind, either.

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