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Is the Threat of a Salary Floor Going to Prevent Teams Like the A’s from Dumping Players Right Now?

Is the Threat of a Salary Floor Going to Prevent Teams Like the A's from Dumping Players Right Now?
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I have mixed feelings on the salary limit for being a kind of blanket cure (or even more cure) for issues like deterioration, getting the right player, and revenue sharing between a team. On the one hand, I can see how it could work to address all of those issues in at least a small part, but there is just something about it that seems very artificial. Prefer to have rules and structures in place that make small salary teams want to spend a little more, and not force them to put another contract on the books for a guy they may not actually want.

I’m also not sure how realistic it is as a tool when landlords almost certainly insist that any minimum salary comes with either a salary cap or a stronger set of fancy tax penalties (so they can treat that like a cap). This was the previous offer to the owners, after all.

Anyway, the reason I mention the minimum salary today is because it appeared in Ken Rosenthal’s latest book on The Athletic in a somewhat surprising context: Why there might be some slowdown in the commercial market early in the season.

Remember how we talked about wanting the Cubs to contact the Auckland A-Team about expensive players at refereeing level? Well consider this a small wrench in that plan:

After indicating that they would reduce the payroll by letting coach Bob Melvin leave for Padres without compensation, they are almost certain to open up business discussions about their most valuable players at GM meetings. However, the prospect of implementing the new CBA law including minimum wage bills is at least giving club officials a pause on how quickly to move forward.

The owners’ initial proposal included such a floor, linking it to a lowering of the luxury tax threshold, making it a non-starter for the players’ union. However, a team like Team A would look foolish if they traded Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas & Company, only to learn later that the new CBA includes a $100 million floor.

In other words, if you think there’s a small chance that you’ll have to put up with next year’s payroll of at least $100 million, and you know holding on to Shun Mana would be the best use of that extra $10 million (or whatever) you have to spend, You won’t be dumping it for a modest potential return in November.

For A, in particular, they’re looking at payroll right now about $20-30 million under a hypothetical $100 million limit *even including* each arbitrage increase. Sure, they can sign a free agent or two later in the winter to get where they need to be, but the minimum salary will eliminate their strong desire to weed out arb-level players for a modest return.

I think we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. Normally you would expect these arb-level trades to take place before the December 2 bidding deadline, but the CBA expires the day before. Which means teams may not have clarity about the rules before then, and we may simply not see these kinds of deals until long after the new CBA is in place.

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