Questions about who will be playing for the Reds come April inevitably end up as discussions about service time with the idea being that the Reds should try to keep players cost-controlled for as long as possible. The implication here is that the Reds are a small market team and on a budget and blah blah blah.
I don’t buy it.
News broke recently that Jeffrey Loria is looking to sell the Marlins for at least $1.4 billion. That’s billion-with-a-B. The Marlins. This, kids, is not a marquee franchise.
I understand exactly why teams manipulate service time. It’s the same reason they get cities to build them stadiums. They like to keep as much money as they can. But not wanting to spend money and not being able to afford something are not the same thing.
And so here is my belief: I believe that every major league team has much, much more money than they pretend they do. If the Marlins are worth more than a billion dollars, then they are making money hand over fist. The Marlins. And if that team is making that much money then EVERY team is making a ton of money and can absolutely afford to call up players when they are ready and not worry about service time.
And, by logical extension, any noise we hear about budget constraints is also nonsense.
Let’s not forget that Major League Baseball has an anti-trust exemption. The owners literally have permission to maintain a monopoly. In recent years as revenue and revenue-sharing have exploded, it has been noted that the players’ chunk of the pie has gotten smaller on a percentage basis. The owners can afford to pay players more. They have more money than they are using.
So yes, the Reds will likely make some decisions based on service time. But those decisions are likely not about what they can afford. Rather, they are about what they want to spend and we should constantly remind ourselves that those are not the same thing.