Steve Cohen Exposing MLB’s Owners With Spending Frenzy
Mets owner Steve Cohen shocked the baseball world when New York finalized a deal Wednesday morning for former Astros/Twins star shortstop Carlos Correa for a whopping 12 years & $315MM. This was rather unexpected, considering it seemed he had already agreed on a deal with the San Francisco Giants before medical concerns got in the way.
With his recent slew of signings (Carlos Correa, Justin Verlander, Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo, David Robertson, and others), it’s clear that owner Steve Cohen is committed to building a winning team.
At the end of the day, Cohen’s deep pockets shouldn’t be villainized – instead, he should be celebrated for his commitment to putting his fans and franchise over the possibility of making a few extra bucks. In a world where the values of these sports franchises only seem to be going up by the day.
Cheapness Is a Common Theme among Baseballs Owners
MLB is one of the most profitable sports leagues in the world, but some owners are hesitant to use their profits to reinvest and put a winning product on the field. This “cheapness” has been an issue for many years, but it seems like there’s been a slight shift since Steve Cohen purchased the Mets.
Since his takeover of the franchise, he has made it clear that he plans to invest heavily into his team and build a contender in New York. He has spent hundreds of million on free agents and re-signing his own players this off-season and looks poised to continue investing in his team throughout 2023 and beyond.
This aggressive approach is something that many fans have been wanting from their franchises for years now. It is no secret that teams have been egregiously pocketing their profits instead of improving their rosters, stadiums, fan experience, and overall product for quite some time now.
But with Cohen leading by example with his checkbook, it could finally force other owners around baseball to start doing more than make excuses about why they aren’t investing in their product.
How Penny Pinching Hurts The Health of Baseball
When an owner is unwilling to pay for talented players, it hurts more than just that team’s chances of winning games—it affects the entire league. It limits quality players from joining certain clubs despite the fact the owners can absolutely afford to pay them, limiting potential player opportunities. This creates an uneven playing field, giving one team an inherent advantage over another, ultimately resulting in unfair competition and unentertaining games.
Cheap owners also make it difficult for fans to want to attend games and watch their favorite clubs compete. When no star or identifiable players are on your team, you’re less likely to see fans come out to games or tune into broadcasts, which means lost revenue for the league and its franchises. This has trickle-down effects; fewer fans mean fewer tickets sold, leading to lower attendance numbers across the board and even less money for all teams involved.
The Positive Impact of Investing in Talent
On the flip side, when owners choose to invest in their talent instead of being frugal with their spending, it benefits them and helps grow the sport as a whole. By bringing top-tier talent into their organization, these owners create more competitive teams that draw larger crowds and generate more revenue for their respective leagues.
These investments help bring better players into the sport and encourage other owners to open up their wallets, which benefits everyone involved in baseball. It also leads to more potential sponsorships and promotion opportunities, given the positive brand image you’re creating.
This doesn’t mean you need every team bidding 13 years for Carlos Correa; it means every owner should be trying to field a quality product with the resources they absolutely have available.
Implementing a Salary Floor Could Be Great For Baseball
I believe having a salary floor (a minimum team payroll for player salaries) in place would bring numerous benefits to Major League Baseball and the overall health of the sport. First and foremost, it would help level the playing field between large-market teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and small-market teams like the Tampa Bay Rays.
With more money available for player salaries, smaller market teams would be forced to look at better talent, leading to increased competition throughout the league. It also helps protect players from being taken advantage of by adding more potential bidders for their services.
A salary floor will also lead to higher attendance numbers at its games. Higher attendance means higher revenues for owners, which can eventually trickle down into better facilities, fan experiences at the ballpark, overall willingness to spend on club merchandise, etc.
Teams Banking on Brand Loyalty
Brand Loyalty is one of the first terms you learn in any introductory marketing class. For example, if you always buy Apple products, you’re more likely to upgrade to the new iPhone, even if it’s not as good as an older version or something another company has made. The same principle is applied in sports, especially with premier franchises in baseball that have been watched by family members generation after generation.
For example, a team like the Boston Red Sox seems to be banking on brand loyalty rather than putting its best foot forward on fielding an identifiable product. Recently they have been letting homegrown talent leave either by free agency or trade, knowing that fans will likely show up regardless.
Why spend 25-30 million a year on Xander Bogaerts when you can pay Christian Arroyo or Jean Segura a quarter of that while earning a similar profit? It’s a business decision that’s only unwise if fans stop buying tickets, club merchandise, watching on TV, etc. But what are the chances of that happening after generations of loyalty?
The truth is Boston could have signed Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and others to deals if they wanted while still making a great profit. But they choose not to because it’s not in the best interest of their bottom line – It’s not necessary in their eyes. So the big market spending of Cohen and the implementation of a salary floor puts pressure on both small & big market teams to field a product fans can be happy investing in.
Mets Spending Should Be Celebrated Rather Than Villainized
The significance of Steve Cohen’s big spending off-season for the Mets cannot be overstated. Instead of taking a fiscally conservative approach, Cohen has committed the necessary funds to give Mets fans what they deserve. Fans around the league shouldn’t villainize this commitment to winning but rather celebrate it for what it is—putting winning over making every last possible cent.
This has become less common in baseball, no matter how rich the owner is outside their baseball ventures. Cohen’s spending on the Mets is refreshing to see and will hopefully spark a necessary change in direction on how baseball franchises choose to spend their available resources.
Many great baseball cities such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and others deserve much more than what they are currently getting. Ultimately, it’s only fair to provide value to the people who pay for your product – Right?
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