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For years, baseball salaries have been on an upward climb of epic proportions. Mediocre pitchers were getting contracts of $100 million or more, middle relievers were holding out for huge offers, and even slap hitters received outlandish compensation for not all that much production.
Now, with the economy in the tank, teams (well, except for the Yankees) are taking a hard look at ways to cut expenses. Sluggers like Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell received lower-than-expected contracts that almost could be considered modest. Some teams have been openly considering the possibility of moving to more profitable stadiums, worried by the possibility that fans could stay away in droves. Even the luxury suites may be taking a hit -- some of the bigwigs who manned these mini-palaces have found themselves a bit too light in the pocket to keep up their lavish baseball-watching habits.
How has the economy most affected baseball, SportsNation?
Tim Kurkjian: "Rockies at Padres. The Peoria, Ariz., ballpark, which is beautiful, is practically empty. This could be a sign of things to come in the major leagues unless the economy changes real soon."
Mar. 15, 2009
10 spring days in Arizona
Steve Phillips: "I think you're gonna see teams that fall out of the races get rid of players earlier. I think you're gonna see, at the end of May, teams making players available that normally would be available on July 31st."
Mar. 27, 2009
BBTN: Economic Impact on 2009 Season
At season's end, three sluggers seemed primed to get big paydays. Adam Dunn, splitting time between Cincinnati and Arizona, was coming off a year in which he put up his typical 40-homer, .386 OBP numbers. Pat Burrell had a solid and consistent season for the world champion Phillies, capping off a four-year run with an OPS+ over 120. Bobby Abreu was a multidimensional offensive threat, able to hit for power, get on base and steal the occasional base. In years past, all three players would have been in line for long and valuable contracts -- Abreu in particular was believed to have expected a three-year, $48 million deal. All three players have noticeable flaws, however (defense being the common thread), and all received a much lower-than-expected payday.