Major League Baseball has a growing issue. No, it isn’t steroids. It isn’t gambling. It isn’t any concern the league has encountered in previous years. The issue I am referring to is the worth of the monster contracts players are receiving.
In the current off season, we have seen Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton receive a 13-year $325 million contract extension and free agent pitcher Max Scherzer sign with the Washington Nationals on a seven-year contract worth $210 million.
Stanton’s deal is the largest contract in MLB history, surpassing Alex Rodriguez’ $275 million contract signed back in 2007 with the New York Yankees. Scherzer’s deal is the second largest for a pitcher in history, only behind Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw who signed a $215 million deal with the team just last year.
The rising cost for star players is a rising trend in MLB and part of it has to do with a lack of a salary cap in the league. MLB is the only of the four major American sports leagues that does not have a salary cap. Until it does, player values may continue to rise at a startling rate.
It is justifiable to predict that in six years when Los Angeles Angels star centerfielder Mike Trout is in the prime of his career at age 29 and closes in on free agency that he will receive a contract worth upwards of over $500 million. It is also justifiable to think that within the next 10 to 15 years baseball fans could see a single player value at over $1 billion.
What is worse is that unlike the NFL, all contracts are fully guaranteed. Scherzer and Stanton will see every dime that their contracts promise them whether they complete the full length of the deal with their respective teams or not.
At this point, it will be next to impossible to eliminate much of the wage distribution among the MLB, but certainly a salary cap could help limit how much a team can pay an individual player to prevent, even the thought of, one single player earning a billion dollars.