The competitive balance tax has been a significant offseason storyline, most notably in regards to big-market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants are all looking to stay under the threshold this winter in order to reset their tax costs and further position them for bigger spending next offseason and beyond. While much has been made about the value of avoiding the tax, MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman notes that the actual financial cost is pretty minimal for teams (like the Nationals) who barely exceed the threshold. For instance, the Nats’ current $199.2MM payroll puts them $2.2MM over the tax line, putting D.C. in line for a 30% tax on the overage since this would be the club’s second straight year over the threshold. Since only the overage is taxed, however, the Nationals would only be paying an extra $660K. Zuckerman figures that a contending team like Washington shouldn’t have any issue in paying a bit extra tax money in order to acquire a pricey trade addition during the season, especially if that player ends up helping the Nats finally enjoy some postseason success.
Some more from around the baseball world…
- Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins declined to say whether or not the team discussed a long-term deal with Josh Donaldson before the two sides settled on Donaldson’s 2018 contract, Atkins told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters. Both the third baseman and the team have been quiet about what extension talks (if any) have taken place, which has only led to trade speculation as Donaldson enters the last year of his deal. Toronto aims to contend this season, however, so it doesn’t seem like a Donaldson trade would happen until the July deadline, if at all. The two sides already collaborated on one tricky negotiation — the $23MM Donaldson will earn in 2018, a single-year record for an arbitration-eligible player. Davidi’s piece also contains quotes from Atkins on the Blue Jays’ other arbitration cases, plus Davidi’s estimation that the team has roughly $20MM left in payroll space to spend on further upgrades.
- In his latest Insider-only piece, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines that the Giants’ desire to avoid giving up draft picks to sign qualifying offer-rejecting free agents may be short-sighted. San Francisco’s veteran-heavy roster is built to win now, and signing the likes of a Lorenzo Cain would do wonders for the troubled Giants outfield, adding more immediate help than the theoretical value of the second-round pick the club would have be surrendering in order to sign Cain.
- Also from Olney, he hears from front office executives that teams aren’t willing to overpay for the nebulous idea of clubhouse leadership. While every club hopes to add players with good attitudes in general, one exec notes that “leadership is organic within each group of players,” and often dependent on a specific mix of personalities. “A player might have a reputation for being a leader, but if he gets hurt or doesn’t play well, that disappears,” another executive said.