Discussion

The dire fate of B-list teams

Updated: January 26, 2012, 11:00 AM ET
By Buster Olney

The rumblings were there even before the final details of the new labor agreement were finished, and now they are getting louder each time that a team signs a player to an enormous contract. Prince Fielder hasn't even been introduced by the Detroit Tigers in the wake of his nine-year, $214 million deal, and some rival executives with small-budget and middle-budget teams are privately lamenting what they consider the increasingly untenable position their teams occupy.

"I don't think the new labor agreement helps small-market teams enough," said one general manager. "I think it's really going to hurt us, because it doesn't address what's happening."

And what is happening, in the eyes of many team executives, is that the massive TV contracts that are either already in place or on the horizon for teams like the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners are helping to create two distinct classes of teams.

The A-listers and B-listers, you could call them.

Albert Pujols' deal with the Angels, valued at $246 million, came within weeks after the Angels negotiated their new TV contract, and the Rangers committed more money to Yu Darvish -- $112 million -- than has ever been spent on a right-handed pitcher. Earlier this offseason, the Dodgers agreed to terms with outfielder Matt Kemp for $160 million over eight years. Fielder's contract comes out of the pocket of owner Mike Ilitch, but the deal, like the others, has a direct bearing on the market and whether the B-listers can retain their best young players.

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