Skyrocketing Salaries in Major League Baseball | Teen Ink

Skyrocketing Salaries in Major League Baseball

November 12, 2015
By Anonymous

Baseball can no longer be considered just a game.  The sport has evolved from athletes participating in high competition to a game that is all about the money.  Major League Baseball (MLB) must end the catapulting salaries before it is too late.  Since free agency was created in 1976, the contracts of baseball players have escalated enormously.  The MLB  was the first out of the four major sports leagues to have free agency, but is the last to control it.  The NBA (National Basketball League), NFL (National Football League), and NHL (National Hockey League) have all included free agency into their sport and have made limitations to the salaries of the players.  These limitations to the combined salary of an entire team is known as a salary cap.  The MLB does not have a salary cap which eventually led to the outrageous amounts of money players are making.  Baseball needs a salary cap not only to level the playing field, but to create a more enjoyable experience for fans.


At the moment, teams with a higher payroll have a clear advantage over a team with a lower payroll.  This year, seven of the eight teams that made the postseason were in the top fifteen of the highest in the MLB.  The only team that made the postseason and was not in the top fifteen of payrolls was the Houston Astros (6th lowest payroll in the MLB).  The Astros have proved a lower payroll team can make the playoffs, but are unlikely to win.  The past four World Series winners have all been in the top eight of highest payrolls for that year.  All of these teams dished out at least $130 million dollars to their players in order to capture the World Series title.  Obviously, the fairness of play is unreasonable for lower payroll teams.  The three highest payroll teams of 2015 were the Los Angeles Dodgers ($314 million), the New York Yankees ($219 million), and the San Francisco Giants ($186 million).  All three of these teams had a winning record with at least eighty-four wins.  The team with the lowest payroll in the MLB was the Miami Marlins at $62 million.  The Miami Marlins ended up with only seventy-one wins.  From the beginning of the season, the Marlins never truely had a chance of even making the playoffs, let alone winning the World Series.  The highest paid player in the MLB of the 2015 season was Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He earned a total of $32.5 million this year; the highest single-season salary for a pitcher in MLB history.  The lowest minimum salary in the MLB is $490,000 which does not include the extra $100 a day players receive for "meal money".  The average salary for the 2015 season was $4 million, the highest average salary in the history of the MLB.  If these valuable players are injured throughout the course of the season, some teams have the money to replace them while other teams do not.  With a higher payroll, a team has enough depth in their lineup to back up injured players with those who are just as skilled, compared to a lower payroll team who have no margin for error.  This allows a high payroll team with injured players to still have a chance at reaching the postseason.


You may be wondering why MLB officials haven't put an end to this issue.  Instead of using a salary cap the league has enforced a luxury tax on higher payroll teams and revenue sharing.  A luxury tax in the MLB is a tax put on teams that spend too much money.  Currently, if a team exceeds $189 million in payroll, they will be hit with a luxury tax which is payed to the league.  For the 2015 season, only the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees exceeded the threshold.  Organizations such as the Dodgers and Yankees greatly surpass these luxury tax restrictions because they can afford the extra expenses along with the salaries of the players.  Similarly, revenue sharing benefits lower market teams.  Teams in a larger market pay more to the league in revenue then lower market teams do.  The league then distributes the money evenly throughout the thirty teams.  The teams who gave less money end up making profit, while teams who had to give more, are stuck with a loss.  Luxury taxes and revenue sharing are not enough because they do not create a sturdy limit of the payroll.  Any team can go over the luxury tax limit as long as the team can afford the price, making the league as a whole unfair.


I'm just a spectator and a fan of the sport so why should I care?  Due to the rising salaries in the MLB, ticket prices have soared as well.  This year alone, ticket prices have jumped at an average of 3.3 percent around the MLB.  The average price of a ticket for the Red Sox is a whopping $52.34.  That is the highest average priced ticket in Major League Baseball with the Yankees' average ticket price close behind at $51.55.  These horrendous prices have lead to fans not being able to enjoy the game at the park.  Instead, many would rather stay home and watch the game on their TV.  If a salary were to be introduced, ticket prices woud eventually be lowered due to the thirty organizations across the league not having to pay their players as much.  A salary cap would give every team in the MLB a fair shot to be in the postseason.  Sure not every team will automatically be in the playoffs the next season, but at least the fans know that there is always next year.  Teams can go decades without ever reaching the playoffs because of a lack in money.  With a salary cap, every year eahc team will have its chance, and the fans will be happy as well.


Since 1976, Major League Baseball has experienced difficulties with increasing salaries acorss the league.  The increase of payrolls has created a disadvantage for lower market teams who struggle to make the playoffs every year.  Luxury tax and revenue sharing is a start to an equal playing field, but when will MLB officials establish a real solution?  The real solution, being a salary cap, would level the playing field and create a more satisfying experience for the fans.  Baseball may be going down hill, but with some help, could eventually turn back to the competitive sport everyone loves today.

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