The Royals franchise has an opportunity to determine the future state of the game. A statement that seems like it would never have existed until just yesterday, when the franchise was reported to be for sale.
One of the biggest issues in the game is the spending by some of the smaller market franchises, Kansas City included. With the April Forbes report that the Royals are worth over a billion dollars, the discrepancy between value and spending are glaring now that this is reported public knowledge.
The Royals have the seventh lowest payroll in baseball this year, with just over $100 million. The six teams below them are all under the $100 million mark. The Royals are also fourth from the bottom in attendance in baseball. Most of the revenue comes from television money, as we know, but to still say that a team that low in attendance is worth a billion dollars tells you that all teams probably have the same value. Additionally, their television contract is up to renewal soon, which would likely increase revenue even more.
The even more condemning thing is that the team has seen an increase in value from $96 million, which it was purchased for in 2000. After reaching the World Series, the Royals saw two seasons of hovering right around the .500 mark. This prompted another huge payroll cut and back-to-back unwatchable seasons in 2018 and ‘19.
Most recently, the Marlins sold for $1.2 billion in 2017 and they are one of the teams below the Royals in payroll. The team is spending just south of $75 million in 2019. Basically, values of even the bottom dwellers in MLB are soaring. Spending is not. Teams are losing at an incredible level and this is being encouraged…or at very least, not discouraged. Grievances have been filed. Writing for a work stoppage is on the wall, due to this topic.
Between these two sales, the value is displayed publically. Combine this with spending that is not anywhere near that level and teams that appear to be trying to lose, baseball is in a hurt of trouble with the CBA due to expire soon.
Baseball is at a now or never decision time. Star players wait until near Spring Training to get their big pay day. The market has been soft the past two years. Players like Mike Moustakas have to sign one-year deals just to stay employed, despite several strong years put together. Two much-needed arms went until late in the summer to be signed this year, due to this.
There is a very simple resolution to this issue. Create a hard salary cap and a hard salary floor. If teams are put on an equal playing field, and spending what is deemed fit as required, the issues are all resolved. Teams are forced to try to be competitive. Fans can be happy and not aggravated by owners deemed cheap.
The problem is that the owners have all of the power. While the game is a huge business, and money is the name of the game, there still has to be some give. They are raking in the dollars and can wait out a long work stoppage, which seems inevitable. The time to resolve this issue are now or never. The Royals value and upcoming sale put an even larger microscope on this.