As Spring Training game begin this week more and more focus will fall onto baseball. One of the main topics amongst baseball fans is that of escalating payrolls and salaries. The Rays are unfortunate enough to belong to the same division as the two biggest spenders in all of American sports. The Yankees and Red Sox are in constant battle with each other and that carries off the field and into front office strategy.
Both the Yankees and the Red Sox have began spending more and more money in player development. Now that they are spending this money they can not only lure any free agent but also have some of the top young talent in the game. There are very few teams with more young talent that the Red Sox and Yankees but almost everyone will tell you that the Rays are one of those teams. However, their young talent is not developed yet and while this results in a lower payroll, it has not resulted in wins. Here’s a quick look at what AL East teams paid in salaries in 2007:
Yikes. I knew it was a pretty big gap, but this is pretty unbalanced. This is not a level playing field. However, the Rays are going to be in the position where their payroll will start escalating. As talented youngsters like BJ Upton, Scott Kazmir, and Evan Longoria enter arbitration and free agency years, the Rays will be faced with some tough decisions. Aside from Carl Crawford the Rays haven’t really had to handle many contract situations involving their young players. This offseason the team handed a very generous contract to SP James Shields. If the club’s handling of the Shields is any indication of how the Rays management will deal with contracts the Rays payroll will move up the ladder quickly.
So get all the mileage you can out of the payroll argument because it won’t work much longer.
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