Guaranteed Money or Owner Flexibility?

September 21, 2006

I go back and forth on an athlete’s right for guaranteed money in long-term contracts. I have finally come to the mind that there is no perfect answer to guaranteed money. Rather, the only way to bridge the difference is by figuring out a solution to ensure some sum of guaranteed money to players, while protecting owners on the downside in the event the player doesn’t perform or is injured. How about this thought? Base salary per year should be significantly lower than it is today, but it should all be guaranteed money, providing players with the financial visibility they seek while providing owners with a lower upfront balloon gaurantee. To compensate, players should be entitled to receive an undetermined bonus at the end of each season that is prenegotiated to be within a certain range of X to Y. However, the team is not obligated to pay within that specific certain range. It is there discretion based on the player’s performance/health to pay what they feel is market, just like any business. However, if the owner pays a bonus lower than the range of X to Y, then the player has the option to pursue free agency or a trade. Let’s make sports truly capitalistic and truly a free market. Provide both sides with flexibility. This does, however, provide one glaring issue … free agency will be more vibrant, not less vibrant as a result. So, to poke a hole in my own theory, why as a fan would I want to potentially see a bunch of new faces year after year, versus developing familiarity with the same core players that drives fan loyalty? I guess, my own response would be that as a fan, I want my GM or owner to have maximum flexibility to put the best players on the field each year. Do you think the SF Giants are exactly happy that they are stuck with a Armando Benitez’s 3-yr, $21M contract when the guy has effectively been injured during the first 2 years of his contract? As a fan, I would like Brian Sabean and Peter McGowern to have the flexibility to undercut his bonus in year 1 and use the remaining part of his contract to pick up a legitimate, healthy closer to give my team a better chance to make a run at the pennant.

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One Response to “Guaranteed Money or Owner Flexibility?”


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