An interesting item made the rounds of baseball's ink stained wretches this weekend prepares for it's GM meetings. ( The GM meetings are kind of a farce where GM's have $500 lunches while sitting around talking about what they're going to do at the more important winter meetings in a couple of weeks. But it does lead to good rumor mongering. So get those $100 Escargot appetizers a-ordering I say....) The money given from baseball's national TV contract is going to boom in 2014, giving teams as much as an additional 25 million per year. Which means teams are going to be flush with cash.
“The macroeconomics of baseball are interesting right now with some of these cable deals,” general manager Jed Hoyer said last week. “It’s created some very big markets from what used to be just kind of large markets, and it’s propped up some teams that used to flood the trade market and used to flood the free-agent market. Some of those teams are now holding on to their own players.”
So the Cubs are no longer "THE CUBS". Other teams have money too. Out spending teams to get a player is even harder. Now a lot of this gets thrown under the rug as good news, because, well, let's face it, Jim Hendry's no longer here. Hopefully, the Cubs are no longer in the business of handing out contracts they regret halfway through. But the Cubs will need free agents. Every team does. So with each team having more money in their pocket while also allowing less players into the market, the fight to get a real FA player that might help you is going to be fierce.
Now the Cubs still should be able to land free agents. Chicago is still a destination city. (Especially for players' wives. Follow the wonderful Kim Dejesus on Twitter and see how much she loves living in Chicago, and you see why Dejesus signed here.) The lure of winning a pennant in a Cubs uniform and becoming a folk hero definitely strokes the egos of any prideful athlete. And Theo not only has a track record of winning, but more importantly, understands keeping good relationships with player agents. ( Notice the reaching out to Dempster's agent as one of the first moves of Epstoyer's off-season. That wasn't for Demp's sake.) What will be interesting is to see is when and on who do the Cubs fire their FA bullets.
As the economic landscape changes and more teams have money, it will be crucial not to "need" free agency to fix a problem. Rather use it as an option. This year won't mean much because the Cubs are still in the early trimesters of the rebuild. But as a Baez is added and maybe a Soler to go with an established Rizzo and Castro, and the focus changes from "acquiring assets" to "getting that final piece", Epstoyer is going to have to pull out the checkbook. And it might not be the biggest or the flashiest checkbook in the room.
“It’s hard to predict exactly what we’re going to be staring at in 2015,” Hoyer said. “But what we’re looking at right now, it is a change in what the dynamic has been over the last five to seven years.
“It’s certainly an interesting time. The macroeconomics of baseball are at an interesting point.”
Damn skippy. Jed. Damn skippy indeed.
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