All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A bad year for free agents

Even though I've been seriously concerned about the economy for awhile now, I'm really surprised at how quickly it's affected Major League Baseball. Surely the multimillionaire kings of the diamond would be immune to the downturn, at least for awhile.

Nope. There are a lot of big name stars still looking for jobs. Some players and their agents suspect collusion, but they're in denial. The problem is the economy:

Rather, it would seem to be a confluence of factors that has caused this ice jam in the free agent market - the economy, the downside of many players left on the market and a disconnect between the agents and the new-market value of their clients. You could add to that the gloomy long-term economic picture former treasury secretary Paul Volcker painted for the owners at their meeting in New York last November. Between that and Bud Selig's even more dire follow-up speech, the owners were left pale-faced.

The Yankees are still spending, but that's about it:

..."I always felt the top 5-6 guys would get their money and the Yankees pretty much took care of that," said one baseball executive. "But I can tell you, teams are scared to death about how the economy is going to affect all their in-ballpark revenues, above and beyond just ticket sales. Things like advertising, corporate sponsorship and merchandising."

Long time Red Adam Dunn is a prime example. He just turned 29, and is in his baseball prime. He's been a remarkably consistent power bat, though his defense is pretty terrible. He reportedly told his teammates last year that he expected to sign a multi-year contract for $100 million or more.

But teams have not been beating a path to his door. As the hot stove season went on, there was speculation that he might have to settle for three years, $36 million. Now, many are expecting him to sign for one year and less than $10 million. That won't put him in the poor house, but it's a big fall from what was expected. It has to be a major bummer for Dunn, who has probably been eagerly awaiting free agency, only to have the market collapse just as he arrived.

Many are expecting him to sign for one year, in hopes that next year will be better. I'm not so sure that's the smart thing to do. This looks like it's going to be a major recession. Another Great Depression, or worse. Next year could be worse, not better. And even if it's not...there's always the possibility of injury.

Of course, he may not have a choice. There may be no team willing to offer him a multiyear deal, even at a discount. But if there is...I think I'd go for it, even if it's a big drop from the $100 million he was hoping for.


posted by BubbaFan, 9:56 PM


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