ESPN, citing an LA Times story, has posted a report that nine major league teams -- not including the Pirates -- are in violation of major league baseball's rules concerning how much debt a team can carry.
Other than the obvious cases -- the Mets and the Dodgers -- the report names four other NL teams, the Phils, Cubs, Marlins and Nationals; and three AL teams, the Rangers, O's and Tigers. Other than the Mets' and Dodgers' cases, which are well-known, no specific reason for any team's debt troubles was reported.
Looked at another way, while small to medium-sized market teams like the Marlins, Nats, O's, Tigers and Rangers can run into financial difficulties, large-market teams like the Mets, Phils, Cubs and Dodgers are not immune from the same troubles. On the plus side, none of the teams named, with the possible exception of the Nats, is likely to face Dylan Bundy's reported $30 million or Danny Hultzen's $13 million signing demands.
The ESPN story cites no specific figures for any club other than the Mets, which it says carries $427 million in debt and is expected to lose $70 million this year; but points out that MLB's $7 billion in annual revenues are twice what they were eight years ago. They are also equivalent to what the approximately 325th-ranking company on the Fortune 500 would earn in a year.
ESPN's report quotes Rob Manfred, baseball's EVP of Labor Relations, as saying "We are not concerned about the overall economic condition of the industry." Well, Rob, you should be. Baseball's business model is broken.
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