Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald spoke to a source within the MLB Players Association who says that if Marlins owner Jeff Loria doesn’t increase team payroll in the coming months, the union plans to pursue the issue with commissioner Bud Selig.
The MLBPA has successfully fought off a salary cap for years, but without a salary cap there is no salary floor either. Instead the CBA contains minimum player salary amounts and contract language that gives the union some leverage if it feels a particular team is not spending enough money on the players. From the current CBA (page 130, paragraph a)
A principal objective of the Revenue Sharing Plan is to promote the growth of the Game and the industry on an individual Club and on an aggregate basis. Accordingly, each Club shall use its evenue sharing receipts (from the Base Plan, the Supplemental lan and the Commissioner’s Discretionary Fund) in an effort to improve its performance on the field
Of course “improving the performance” can come in many ways, and doesn’t necessarily have to come from increased spending on major league players. A team can spend a lot on signing bonuses for draftees and on training and development in the minors. It can go after an elite major league caliber coaching staff.Even though a team is not required per-se to put revenue sharing receipts into player salaries, the language gives the union some leverage if it feels a particular team is simply pocketing its receipts from sharing.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened to the Marlins. According to the Jackson article, MLB, under force from the union, made the Marlins increase their payroll for 2010, 2011, and 2012. Perhaps what is going on is Marlin owner Jeffrey Lorias trying to get back some of what he lost during those years. In any case, the union is clearly concerned that Lorias is not acting in accordance to the CBA and will push the issue. But according to the Jackson article, Lorias doesn’t believe Selig will penalize him a second time around.
But the Marlins privately believe MLB won’t force them to increase payroll during 2013 or before 2014 for a couple of reasons: They assert they lost $40 million last season and won’t make much, if anything, this season, because they expect attendance and associated ballpark revenue to plummet. MLB and the players union are given the Marlins’ books.
<snark>But wasn’t the new taxpayer-funded stadium supposed to allow the Marlins to field competitive teams by providing a revenue boost?</snark> The sub-lesson here is that if a city isn’t that keen on baseball, building a new stadium probably isn’t going to have the incremental effect of making it a baseball city.