Saturday, December 13, 2014

Is There a Bigger Emphasis on Expiring Contracts in MLB?

In the NBA you always hear about a rebuilding team either dealing or dealing for expiring contracts and that never really registered why they were so important being a MLB fan. Why would a team want to acquire a player with just one year left, unless you’re mid-season and trying to make a playoff run, unless you have a window to negotiate? There is no salary cap in MLB so there isn’t as much of an emphasis on the salary relief, not until this offseason anyway.

The Red Sox and the Tigers swapped a pair of expiring contracts at the Winter Meetings when the teams basically traded Yoenis Cespedes for Rick Porcello but that’s not the only instance where one year of team control has come up in trades this week. Boston also added one year deals on the free agent market with Justin Masterson and on the trade market with Wade Miley. The Miami Marlins alone added two pitchers in Mat Latos and Dan Haren with one year left each on their contracts, although if Haren retires the Marlins get to keep his $10 million in salary for free. The Dodgers, Haren’s former team, added one year of Howie Kendrick for a top pitching prospect and one year of Jimmy Rollins during the meetings in San Diego as well.

For a long time the scale tipped in favor of the players who used the media and teams like the New York Yankees to get an extra few million bucks or an extra season on their contracts. Now we’re seeing these teams acquiring one season and expiring contracts to remain flexible in their spending and roster constructions. Teams don’t want to be hamstrung by the contracts of CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran anymore and the game has finally caught up to the powerful union and the players.

Expiring contracts with roster and fiscal responsibility are in and trading veterans and rentals for top prospects seem to be out. The emphasis has moved on from high priced 30 something’s and is moving towards locking up kids early and building from within. It makes for a boring offseason sometimes but the times are a changing and the Yankees are way behind. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)