East Notes: Orioles, Nationals, MASN, Braves

In a feature piece for Grantland, Jonah Keri profiles the Baltimore Orioles franchise, tracing the club's recent history to its current position. Keri shows positive perspectives on the team's oft-criticized owner, Peter Angelos, and credits GM Dan Duquette (and predecessory Andy MacPhail) with some shrewd moves that gave the team its solid current core. Nevertheless, Keri writes that Baltimore's generally average-or-below payroll tends to leave the impression that the O's are "spending like the Royals when they can afford to shell out more" and, "in a division that demands greatness, [have] resigned themselves to merely being good."

  • One reason that Keri suggests the Orioles have untapped spending capacity is the team's unique TV rights situation. As Keri explains, Baltimore has a dominant position in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN, the RSN that enjoys both the Orioles and Nationals broadcast rights) and has been able to keep much of its position from the MLB revenue sharing system. Especially after the successful 2012 season for both clubs, the deal has been massively beneficial to the Orioles, but has seemingly not resulted in a corresponding increase in the team's payroll. Keri does note that one valid reason for caution in spending: the possibility of the deal being forcibly renegotiated against the Orioles' favor. 
  • On the other side of the ledger, Keri reports, a seemingly intractable situation for the Nationals has been ameliorated somewhat by league intervention. Stuck with little equity and a middling annual rights fee payout, the Nationals have nevertheless had their side of the deal sweetened by an undisclosed cash stipend that is paid to the club each year by MLB.
  • For the Braves, meanwhile, their own unfavorable TV deal has left the front office looking for creative ways to keep the team's outstanding young talent in Atlanta. As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, GM Frank Wren explained that the team's $135MM extension of first baseman Freddie Freeman was the culmination of months of planning and, potentially, the first of several moves designed to maintain the club's core. "We're looking at how we can keep our team together, especially our young, homegrown players," said Wren. "And we looked at how we could strategize to make that happen." Of particular importance, the GM acknowledged, is the team's new stadium plans. "There is also an element of the new situation in Cobb County that allows us to be more competitive, and I think it's evident by this signing," Wren said. 

26 Responses to East Notes: Orioles, Nationals, MASN, Braves Leave a Reply

  1. The Orioles fail to understand that while free agency deals are risky, they’re necessary to compete in the AL East. Look at nearly every World Series winner of the past 15 years. There’s a combination of homegrown plus supplementary trades and signings. The Orioles have the core but nowhere to go with it.

    • pft2 1 year ago

      Maybe the point is the Orioles see no need to compete if they can be profitable without competing. Lets face it, they can’t outspend the Red Sox or Yankees, so why bother trying.

      • It’s not a matter of outspending the Yankees and the Red Sox. They just need to fill holes. The O’s have a great core, but they’re lack of desire to spend at all is the problem.

    • Mitch Augustyn 1 year ago

      I bet the Orioles know that you win by building a team by making smart trades and bringing up talent from within. Instead of bringing in talent from other teams whose best years are behind them. Thing is when the Yankees raised tickets prices to $500 for a seat that cost $75 in most other ball parks. They have to win every year. There is no rebuilding and in the end you get stuck with contracts like Arod, Sabathia (who gave up fmor runs than anyone in the AL. You pay Derek Jeter $12m and want to bring in Stephen Drew to back him up or play third. Tampa has done very well and has remained competitive since 2008. Yankees had to do it with declining attendance every year over the past 4 years.
      We all see it worked for Toronto last year.

  2. bravesnjays 1 year ago

    Freeman as the face of the franchise appears to be a good move for the Braves. It might be an overpay, but it gives them stability for now. Moving forward the Braves need to attempt Evan Longoria/ Matt Moore type extensions. If they could lock the likes of Simmons or Alex Wood or another young promising fellow, for Longoria like deals, the Braves TV contract would not be such a mountain to overcome. Heck even if you Signed Alex Wood to a 5 year/17 mil deal and he turned out to be a bust it would barely be as bad as 1 year of BJ Uptons contract. Lock up the young-prearb kids and get some team friendly options for the first free agency or two. We can’t sign all the arbitration guys to 100+ mil contracts

  3. pft2 1 year ago

    One of the things I think Congress should do in return for MLB’s great benefit of having a legal Monopoly is to force financial disclosures from each team (and their RSN deals) and the MLB itself. This secrecy of financials does a disservice to the fans since so much of a teams competitiveness involves how much they can spend on players. If a team is not upholding their end of the bargain and is using the team as a profit engine then maybe the fans should know about it.

  4. BG921 1 year ago

    I’m still not a fan of the Freeman deal for the Braves. Yes, it’s great to lock up young talent, but the Braves just don’t have the financial stability to give out an extension like this at this time. Signing Freeman means that Jason Heyward is probably gone and while Brave fans seem to want to cast him aside (I’ve read numerous fan comments wanting to trade him or let him leave) he and Andrelton Simmons are the most valuable players on the roster moving forward. They’re both so dynamic to the team because they impact the game offensively and defensively. Freeman is a one dimensional player (Brave fans always overrate his defense, but he makes so many careless mistakes and posts a negative dWAR every season) and even last season he was extremely lucky (.371 BABIP) and I could easily see him regressing into more of his form from 2012. Personally, I feel like working on extending Heyward and Simmons would have made more sense given the financial limits the Braves currently have. Losing Kimbrel is pretty much a given, but the Braves have good young arms in place to replace him (Shae Simmons looks very legit), but is their really anyone that’s going to be available to them that can replace the production Jason Heyward gives them? He has had freak injuries (appendicitis, hit in the face by pitch, etc) but still provides the most value to the team when healthy. Freeman is getting an elite contract, but I wouldn’t even include him in the same tier as Joey Votto or Paul Goldschimidt. If anything, the Goldschimidt extension is looking smarter and smarter. Oh yeah, I am a Braves fan… Just not excited as my fellow fans are about this one.

    • It’s a lot of money for a player of his caliber on a team that doesn’t have a ton of resources.

      • BG921 1 year ago

        That’s how I feel. No debating it’s smart to lock up young talent, but given the financial restraints of the Braves… I’m just not a huge fan of this move. I guess we’ll see what happens.

      • bob 1 year ago

        I didn’t think the new stadium would have that big of an impact at first, but judging from Wren’s recent comments (post-Freddie extension) about wanting to lock up more core players it seems like it will. A lot of people don’t realize it isn’t just a stadium, they also own 58 acres around it that they’re going to build a year-round multi-use development complex on. Shopping, concerts, festivals, etc… they plan on making it a massive go-to place for Cobb County… and they’ll own all of it. Just glad to see they’re planning on putting some of it into the team.

    • kungfucampby 1 year ago

      I agree. it’s too much, too soon, to a player that hasn’t proven to be worth that risk yet.

    • bob 1 year ago

      “Freeman is getting an elite contract,”

      Is he, though? I would’ve agreed with you if you’d said the same thing before this offseason started, but in terms of today’s market, this puts him in Choo territory. Great player, but not exactly elite. This is where the bar is set. The market has changed and I don’t see any reason why it won’t continue to do so, especially with all this crazy tv money flooding teams’ payrolls. Three years from now, we could very well be laughing at the idea that this type of money (going to a good, not great, player like Freeman) is an overpay.

      • rundmc1981 1 year ago

        3 years from now he could be a great, not good player and we’re thankful for the concrete salary.

    • Defiancy 1 year ago

      16 million a year isn’t going to break the Braves. That’s 2 million more than they were paying McCann. They’ll be fine.

      • bob 1 year ago

        Haven’t seen the breakdown yet, but it’ll most likely be closer $20+ for his free agent years. It’s significant, but I think they’ll be able to work around it. They only have one other person on the books for those years, and its BJ, and he’ll be gone after the first one hits.

        • Defiancy 1 year ago

          We’ll see. I’ve seen nothing that says they are going to go with arbitration type salaries for his team controlled years. I think they are projecting higher revenues with the new stadium, so it won’t be a big deal.

          Plus Uggs comes off in two seasons. We should be able to keep our own guys if nothing else.

          • bob 1 year ago

            Yea I don’t know for sure, either, but it’s really common for the arbitration years to resemble what they would’ve made before. It’d make sense, too, with the dead-weight contracts, that they’d structure it that way. Won’t know for sure till they say something… seems kinda weird we haven’t heard yet, right?

            Anyways, Wren really made it sound like they think they’ll have the money to keep multiple pieces of the core and that the stadium was going to help out a good bit with that, so I’m a lot more optimistic about keeping our homegrown players than I was a week ago. Simba and JHey are a must as far as I’m concerned.

          • Jeff 1 year ago

            The Braves usually for their budget split the cost of long-term contracts evenly, so on their ledger it will be about $15mil each year to them.

  5. Natsfan89 1 year ago

    Hmm, did not know about this stipend. Still, can’t stand MASN. It’s a blackhole of a network. The only things worth watching are Nats and Os games. Unless of course you want to hear Coach K or the head coach of ECU basketball talk about their teams. Oh and for you die hard ESPN News fans out there, MASN will be airing 5 whole hours of it tomorrow so make sure to tune in.

  6. section 34 1 year ago

    If the Nats want to sue to change the TV rights arrangement that allowed Montreal to move into the Orioles’ territory, perhaps Angelos can countersue to make them leave.

    • Natsfan89 1 year ago

      Um…they aren’t suing to change the TV rights situation? There is a provision in the contract that allows the Nats to renegotiate their annual tv rights fees every 5 years. That’s what this is about. The Nats say there fees should be north of $100 million, Angelos countered with something in the $30 million dollar range.

      Not to mention, and I could be wrong but I don’t think I am, the provision allows the Os to do the same thing.

  7. Lefty_Orioles_Fan 1 year ago

    Keri does note that one valid reason for caution in spending: the
    possibility of the deal being forcibly renegotiated against the Orioles’

    Good Heavens! The Nationals spend money without the TV Revenue!
    The Orioles have done nothing with TV Revenue, they have done nothing without TV Revenue! It’s All Angelos! To steal a word from Don Imus, Peter Angelos is AWFUL!

  8. burnboll 1 year ago

    Why is the website Grantland called Grantland?

    • rundmc1981 1 year ago

      The site’s administrator loves all things Hugh Grant. He quotes Notting Hill endlessly, and once doubled for him in a sequence in Love Actually.

      • burnboll 1 year ago

        Had no idea.

        Not really a big fan of Hugh Grant.

        Will check out Love Actually.

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