AP reports that soon-to-be-former Atlanta Braves second baseman Marcus Giles passed his physical and will join his brother, Brian, on their hometown San Diego Padres. It’s good news for the Padres and the Giles brothers but bad news for the Braves, their fans, and baseball in general.
Marcus Giles came up through the Braves farm system, has had a better-than-expected career with them, and would almost certainly love to stay. The Braves would certainly love to keep him but they can’t afford to keep him on a $70 million a year budget.
Since Ted Turner sold his holdings, including the Braves, to Time-Warner, the team has gone from one of the “haves” to a team with an above-average payroll to a point where they can’t afford to keep their own players. Guys like David Justice, Javy Lopez, Tom Glavine, Kevin Millwood, and Rafeal Furcal got dumped for salary reasons. Suddenly, they’re the Montreal Expos.
MLB needs to establish a salary cap system that creates competitive balance, allowing teams that are well managed to develop and keep talent. As it is, the rest of the Major League teams are essentially farm clubs for the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and a handful of other free spenders.
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