FanPost

Greinke, the Nationals, and Money.

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Zack Greinke is a great pitcher. However, Greinke is probably in line for something like 8 years, $170 million. Since it is likely to be his last contract, the teams will probably blow up the years as a way of further back-loading the contract. Given the likely salary inflation that will hit MLB in 2014 with the new revenue sharing agreement, Greinke would need to produce 30 WAR in his age 29-37 seasons for the team to break even. Not implausible if he stays healthy and on the field. However, Greinke may not be a good fit for the Nationals.

We have a good core now. We will likely be competitive for the next 3-5 years barring injury or sudden ineffectiveness from key players. I think we should avoid damaging that by adding a contract that could be a team anchor. If the Nationals can afford to have Greinke fail, then it is not a problem to add him. However, as you can see below the Nationals are already at about $90 million for 2013's payroll. As this only accounts for 25 players, there will be another 10-14 players added to the 40-man roster (and payroll). Most of these will be minimal additions, like Corey Brown, who will make the league minimum. Notable off-season priorities are another SP and a competent lefty reliever.

Pos'n

Length / Total Value

2013

2014

2015

2016

1

Werth, Jayson

rf

7 yr/$126M (11-17)

$16.57

$20.57

$21.57

$21.57

2

Zimmerman, Ryan

3b

5 yr/$45M (09-13), 6 yr/$100M (14-19)+20 opt

$14.10

$14.00

$14.00

$14.00

3

Strasburg, Stephen

rhp-s

4 yr/$15.1M (09-12)

3.9

7.16

10.5252

4

Suzuki, Kurt

c

6.45

8.5

5

Morse, Michael

inf-of

2 yr/$10.5M (12-13)

$7.00

FA

6

Gonzalez, Gio

lhp-s

5 yr/$42M (12-16)+opts

$6.35

$8.60

$11.10

$12.10

7

Zimmermann, Jordan

rhp-s

1 yr/$2.3M (12)

4.9

7.938

12.85956

FA

8

Maya, Yunesky

rhp-s

4 yr/$8M (10-13)

$2.00

9

Rendon, Anthony

3b

4 yr/$7.2M (11-14)+15 opt

$1.80

$1.80

opt

10

Harper, Bryce

c-of

5 yr/$9.9M (11-15)

$2.00

$2.15

$2.25

11

Clippard, Tyler

rhp

1 yr/$1.65M (12)

4.6

6.762

8.58774

FA

12

Purke, Matt

lhp-s

4 yr/$4.15M (11-14)

$1.04

$1.04

13

Tracy, Chad

1b

1 yr/$0.75M (12)

1

FA

14

Span, Denard

CF

2yr/$10M (13+14)+15 opt

4.75

6.5

9

FA

15

Desmond, Ian

ss

1 yr/$0.5125M (12)

3.2

4.704

6.91488

FA

16

Espinosa, Danny

ss

1 yr/$0.506M (12)

0.5

3.2

4.704

6.91488

17

Storen, Drew

rhp

1 yr/$498,750 (12)

1.7

2.499

3.67353

5.4000891

18

Bernadina, Roger

of

1 yr/$0.4935M (12)

1.1

1.617

2.37699

3.4941753

19

Ramos, Wilson

c

1 yr/$491,250 (12)

0.5

3.4

4.998

7.34706

20

Rodriguez, Henry

rhp

1 yr/$0.491M (12)

0.5

0.9

1.323

1.94481

21

Detwiler, Ross

lhp

1 yr/$0.485M (12)

2.2

3.234

4.75398

6.9883506

22

Stammen, Craig

rhp

1 yr/$0.485M (12)

0.9

1.323

1.94481

2.8588707

23

Lombardozzi, Steve

2b

1 yr/$0.481M (12)

0.5

0.5

1

2

24

Mattheus, Ryan

rhp

1 yr/$0.481M (12)

0.5

0.5

1

2

25

Moore, Tyler

1b

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

TOTAL - WAS - O/D

$90.31

$108.16

$104.22

$96.28

Pos'n

Length / Total Value

2013

2014

2015

2016

As you can see, the Nationals have already committed $90 million dollars in payroll for 2013. Last year's opening day payroll was about $85 million. So, despite LaRoche, Jackson, Wang, Lannan, Gorzellanny, Burnett, Lidge, Mike Gonzaelz and Flores leaving, the Nationals already spending more money than last year. They will need to continue to spend more money this off-season to remain competitive. The Nationals need something like another $20 million to fill out the remaining roster spots, 5th SP ($10 million), Lefty RP ($3 million) and 8-12 other guys ($6-8 million).

As most of you know, the Nationals are currently seeking to more TV money. The MASN contract, established as a precondition of the Expos moving to DC, gives a significant ownership majority of MASN to the Baltimore Orioles, and requires that the O's be paid the same rights fees as the O's. The advantage for the Nationals is that they renegotiate their rights fees. The TV deal has three pots of money: the Nationals rights fees, the Orioles rights fees, and MASN's profits. The rights fees are paid by the Network to the team in exchange for the right to broadcast the games. However, the network is owned by the Orioles (87%) and the Nationals (13%), so profits are distributed accordingly. The Nationals continue to gain 1% ownership of MASN, until they reach 33% and a cap. This deal has been played up as a significant gusher of money, but that is unlikely to happen. While the Rangers and Astros enjoy approximantly $80 million year from their TV deals, the Nationals receive about $28 million a year. The Lerners are said to be seeking a raise to $100 million, while Angelos is said to be offering up to $35 million. The problem comes from the fact that the O's are entitled to the exact same rights fees as the Nationals. MASN does generate $200 million, so it is impossible to pay the Nationals $100 million. Still, if the parties agreed to the midpoint of $67.5 million, then the Nationals could net an extra $40 million. Plenty to afford, Greinke and the other guys we need to round out the roster, right? (The $20 million from before +an extra $10 million for Greinke instead of Tier 2 guy like Jackson, Dempster, or Marcum).

Well, maybe not. The new CBA limits revenue sharing to the 15 smallest market teams. The Nationals are no longer being subsidized by the league. Although I don't know how much the Nationals are receiving from the MLB Central Fund, I know that the leaked MLB documents for 2007-2008 had the Tampa Bay Ray's receiving about $10 million a year. As such, it is not impossible for the Nationals to be concerned about it's payroll, even it if sees an increase TV deal.

Consider:

$90 base salary

$40 increase from TV deal

$10 loss from revenue sharing

$120 million -Nationals projected payroll.

At $120 million dollars, the Nationals have enough money to add a Greinke level contract to the payroll in 2013. However, looking ahead to 2014, the Nationals could face trouble, as they are already scheduled to add another $18 million in payroll commitments assuming that arbitration eligible players continue to perform adequately. It is possible that the Lerner's will simply buy us all a very nice Christmas present and plunk down a few million more to help grow the Nationals. But barring that, I don't think it is wise to plan for an extraordinary free agent acquisition this off-season.

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