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Hideki Matsui Understands the Economics of Baseball

By Mike Silva ~ March 3rd, 2010. Filed under: Business of Sports, Mike Silva.

I am all for players receiving the most money they can get from baseball. Although many, if not all, can’t comprehend salaries in the seven figure range, these are individuals who work hard at a skill that that employs only 750 people at a given time. It comes down to simple supply and demand. There are also a finite number of years to earn, which makes it essential to maximize income.

With that said, I find that many agents and players are not adjusting their expectations to the current economics of baseball. Are the owners and more specifically, Commissioner Selig, using the bad economy to drive salaries down? Absolutely, I don’t think we can argue that. But the fact of the matter is multiyear deals for aging players is no longer a practice that many teams want to employ. Even stars that were free agents this winter: Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey received less than they would have 10 years ago. A 7 to 10 year contract was the norm in 2000, anything less than five was unheard for stars. Now you have to struggle to reach five years – if you’re lucky.

Locally we have followed the Johnny Damon negotiations which demonstrated a major misread of the market by player and agent. The antithesis of that is Hideki Matsui, who Tyler Kepner of the NY Times caught up with in Tempe, Arizona. As you know, Matsui is now with Anaheim after not being offered a contract by the Yankees. He received 1 year and $6 million to be the Angels designated hitter. This just a year after he made $13 million and won the World Series MVP. Instead of complaining, Matsui had this to say:

“At least for me, personally, it doesn’t really bother me,” Matsui said. “You have to take into consideration what the current market is and also your worth as a player, how teams assess you. My market price four or five years ago was different because my age was different.”

Funny how Matsui talks about his market price four years ago since he made the same amount, six million dollars, his first year coming over to New York. Many players in the same situation as Matsui, and agents with clients like him, should read this and start to rethink their negotiation strategy. What happens if you don’t? You are still unemployed in spring training (see Joe Beimel) and expecting the same money requested back in November. That’s where supply and demand starts to work against the player big time. Ultimately he accepts a one year deal for significantly less. Ego and ignorance winds up hurting the player’s pocketbook, leaving one less season to earn during their career.

Matsui is an example of someone that could be in that situation, but is not. Why? Because he and his agent understood the market and his current worth. Now he has a good salary on a team that he seems to enjoy. With very little time on this earth to play baseball professional can’t that be considered a good deal? I think so.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Hideki Matsui Understands the Economics of Baseball

  1. liz

    Most of the aging “elite” in baseball would do well to note Matsui’s approach. In these economic times, teams jujst can’t afford to tie up 10- 20 million in a DH or someone who is only marginal at his position defensively. Matsui understood that no matter how “clutch” you are at the plate (and he definately qualifies as clutch), if you can’t play the field well, you aren’t worth that kind of money.

  2. Kevin C

    He grew up in Japan, a different culture that has honor. Americans have very little class and are out of touch with reality. Just look at our President to see where our culture is at.

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