Why the MLB should have a salary cap

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The LA Dodgers are a huge factor on why the MLB needs to implicate a salary cap. The game should focus on development rather than spending. (Photo courtesy of public domain)

In the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) offseason, star pitcher and batter, Shohei Ohtani, signed the largest contract in US sports history, a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Along with the signing of Ohtani, the Dodgers acquired star pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto’s contract is the largest pitcher contract in MLB history with a 12-year, $325 million deal.

And on top of those two, the Dodgers signed Mariners star Teoscar Hernandez, to a one-year, $23.5 million deal.

In my opinion, the MLB needs to add a salary cap because it’s unfair how the Dodgers have a much larger market than other teams to sign multiple all-star caliber players. The MLB does have a luxury tax as a penalty for teams who exceed a predetermined payroll, however teams like the Dodgers have enough money to cover the tax and still purchase talent.

According to Fan Graphs, the Dodgers projected lineups and starters include:

Batting 1: Mookie Betts (12 years, $365 million)

Batting 2: Shohei Ohtani (10 year, $700 million)

Batting 3: Freddie Freeman (6 years, $162 million)

Batting 4: Will Smith (1 year, $5 million)

Batting 5: Max Muncy (2 years, $24 million)

Batting 6: James Outman (1 year, $700 thousand)

Batting 7: Teoscar Hernandez (1 year, $23.5 million)

Batting 8: Jason Heyward (1 year, $9 million)

Batting 9: Gavin Lux (1 year, $720 thousand)

Starter pitcher 1: Yoshinobu Yamamoto (12 years, $325 million)

Starter pitcher 2: Tyler Glasnow (5 years, $136.5 million)

Starter pitcher 3: Walker Buehler (1 year, $8 million)

Starter pitcher 4: Bobby Miller (1 year, $720 thousand)

Starter pitcher 5: Emmet Sheehan (1 year, $720 thousand)

Other high contracts include Chris Taylor (4 years, $60 million), Manuel Margot (2 years, $19 million), Miguel Rojas (2 years, $11 million), and more.

According to B/R Walk-Off’s instagram, the Dodgers have spent $1.20 billion this offseason. For reference, every other MLB team combined spent $1.23 billion.

The Dodgers currently have the highest projected payroll for the 2024 season being just shy of $300 million. Their payroll should be much higher than $300 million, but some of their all-star players such as Ohtani and Betts have deferred the majority of their contracts to allow the Dodgers to sign more players.

I believe that this option to not have a salary cap and the option for players to defer their contracts is a key factor in the MLB’s potential downfall. It’s ridiculous that a large market team can sign players to high contract deals and not have to pay them the majority of their contract until five to ten years after they retire.

Creating a salary cap would allow smaller market teams to compete and have an equal opportunity to sign all-star players.

Other major US sports such as the NFL and NBA have a salary cap to ensure all teams have a fair chance to compete.

Also, having a salary cap requires teams to focus on developing players instead of buying all-stars.

For example, the 2022-2023 Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl with a team that was $3 million under the NFL salary cap. The Chiefs had six Pro Bowl selections in the 2022-2023 season, with only one player taking up over 10% of the team’s total salary. That team proved that money does not buy championships.

In the past 12 World Series, only the Kansas City Royals have won the World Series as a small market team. The Royals are ranked as the 33rd largest market size for all US major pro sports teams. As for the other 11 winners, they were all ranked within the top 10 largest market size.

The addition of a salary cap will end the idea of buying to win and instead focus on the development of future stars.

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