There has been a stark contrast between team owners’ willingness to spend in the last few years. Depending on the success of the teams opening up their checkbooks, there could be some very interesting consequences if they reach their goals of winning titles in their respective leagues in one way or another.
After winning a championship in 2022 while paying the highest luxury tax in NBA history, the Warriors gave Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole hefty extensions to lock them up long-term to ensure they remain competitive in the future. Once those contracts kick in next year, Golden State will be paying an absurd $268 million luxury tax to keep its core together. Team owners have had no problems with this, as they have given general manager Bob Myers the green light to spend as much as he can to keep bringing titles to the Bay.
When looking at the MLB, their league doesn’t have a set salary cap. You would think that most, if not all teams would take advantage of this and pay whatever it takes to build competent teams, but there has been a disturbing trend of teams wanting to keep roster payrolls as low as possible in baseball. Most notably, the Oakland A’s had a lower roster payroll last season compared to their infamous Moneyball roster in 2002 that transcended baseball by keeping costs low and signing players based on advanced metrics. The New York Mets on the other hand are seizing the opportunity, revamping their roster for 2023 by shelling out nearly $500,000,000 in free agency this offseason.
In the NHL, the Rangers saw that they had the framework of a juggernaut and have built a superteam through the trade market this season. Niko Mikkola, Tyler Motte, Vladimir Tarasenko, and most recently Patrick Kane have all been acquired via midseason trades, and their lineup now looks completely different compared to how it did on opening night back in October.
While we can all appreciate teams with owners that are willing to spend in order to win, keep in mind that both the Warriors, Mets, and Rangers play in two of the biggest sports market in the world. Their version of spending has a much, much higher ceiling compared to smaller market teams who quite simply can’t afford to shell out that kind of money. If these big market teams see success and others in cities that can afford to follow along, it could make it even harder for teams in places like Oklahoma City and Kansas to keep up and have any realistic chance of building competitors.
On the contrary, if the Dubs, Mets, and Rangers all flame out and have horrible teams stuck with massive contracts a few years down the line, even more owners will likely be hesitant to give away money. This may result in players feeling like they are not being paid for what they’re worth, which can lead to some very nasty conversations between the player unions and league owners when collective bargaining agreements roll around for each league.
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