Where’s the money, Anthopoulos?
As Parkes just posted over at Getting Blanked, MLB has announced an extension of their national (US) broadcast TV partnerships with FOX and TBS, which will add a cool $6.8-billion to be spread amongst the 30 ballclubs starting in 2014, until the deal expires in 2021.
Money quote [Note: heh.]:
“This means that each team, beginning in 2014 and lasting until 2021, will receive almost $52 million annually, which is more than double what clubs received under the previous agreements with ESPN, FOX and TBS.”
Granted, those deals don’t kick in right away. Still, add in the fact that, per a Bruce Dowbiggin piece in the Globe and Mail back in February, the Jays received $36-million from their parent company for TV rights this season– a figure that’s been closely monitored by MLB, in order to make sure there was no funny business under the old revenue sharing format– and, even assuming no change to that figure, you’re looking at the club receiving $88-million, or more, before they step onto the field a game.
Um… that’s kinda a lot.
And that’s before any additional in-stadium ad revenue, before gate receipts– which, according to Forbes, accounted for $39-million in 2011, when the club drew more than 200K fewer fans than this year– or other additional revenue streams.
Now, clearly the dollars required to run an MLB franchise aren’t wholly represented by the MLB payroll, and I’m really just talking ballpark figures here, rather than shoddily attempting any kind of mathematical heavy lifting, but for 2014– the season after next!– that’s a starting point of at least $127-million in theoretical revenue for a team that’s currently running a payroll of $83,739,200 according to Cot’s.
The 2014 Jays, as the new national TV deals kick in, have just $47.5-million committed so far– the entirety of that in the form of guaranteed contracts with their core group of Jose Bautista, Brandon Morrow, Edwin Encarnacion, Ricky Romero, and Sergio Santos (um… plus Jeff Mathis and Dustin McGowan).
As things stand now, heading into 2014 the Jays will still have options on Yunel Escobar, Adam Lind, and Casey Janssen, and they’ll have third-year arbitration guys in Colby Rasmus and JA Happ. JP Arencibia, if he’s still here, will be in his first arb year, and most of the young core will be even farther back in the process than that. Meaning, the committments will go up naturally from that $47.5-million figure, but certainly not enough on their own to push it anywhere near the kind of dollars we can plainly see will be coming in.
In other words: Paul Beeston wanted to see revenue growth before starting to ramp up spending? Well here it fucking is.
It’s guaranteed. It’s going to be there. With the backing of a megalith like Rogers it can be worked with now, moved around to suit more immediate needs. The longer a club waits to jump whole hog into this new economic environment, the farther behind they’re going to find themselves, as the majority of teams– those who aren’t so singularly focussed on achieving the most robust bottom line for shareholders– begin to spend this cash, providing player salaries a lucrative “market correction.” We’ve already seen all kinds 0f clubs locking up their best young players at rates commensurate with current payroll levels, not ones potentially exploded by what Parkes says is “more than double what clubs received under the previous agreements with ESPN, FOX and TBS.”
The fact that the Jays could claim– spurious as it may be– they didn’t foresee these types of national TV deals on the horizon makes convenient cover for the fact that the club has spent so modestly in the last two years, but that cover is now blown. And while it makes me hopeful that we’re perhaps starting to see an acknowledgement of this in the way that Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos have been talking this month about needing to spend this winter– a corner they intentionally backed themselves into with their ultra-conservative approach to last off-season — it makes it all the more potentially infuriating to contemplate the very real possibility of them not acting– or not being able to act– with the urgency they plainly need to.
That they risk following the JP Ricciardi course into bad contracts is no longer terribly relevant. AA’s diligent work in creating a flexible payroll has, at the very least, set the club up to far better handle the odd massive contract gone awry than his predecessor could. This new influx of TV cash should help immensely in that regard, too, if it’s actually deigned acceptable to put it back into the club, rather than the shareholders’ and ownership’s pockets– which obviously would be a damn good thing, because the Jays can’t afford to wait another year before they start making serious free agent over-pays in the hope that they hit on the right guys to take the club to the next level. For the sake of the brand– to put it in terms that the holders of the corporate wallet should be able to understand– that time has to be now.