I’ve been beating this drum for a while, and the drumbeats just got louder.
Which one? The one that says that if regional sports network money dries up and MLB teams have to go to streaming to televise their games, there won’t be as much money coming in.
That thought was underscored by this report about the Minnesota Twins:
Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins are reducing their payroll and exploring alternative local TV options following the expiration of the team’s agreement with bankrupt regional sports network operator Diamond Sports Group.
Speaking at a league-wide general managers meeting earlier this week, Twins GM Derek Falvey said he doesn’t expect the team to match the all-time club-high $156 million collective player payroll it carried in the recently completed 2023 MLB season.
The article goes on to say that the Twins got $54.8 million from Bally Sports North (part of the Diamond Sports Group) in 2023, and as that deal has expired, the Twins will have to look elsewhere for money to replace that.
This is where the Twins payroll could be in 2024:
That’s a drop somewhere between 10 and 20 percent from 2023, a payroll that helped the Twins win 87 games and the A.L. Central title.
The Twins won’t be alone here. The Diamond Sports Group bankruptcy means that it’s possible the 12 teams that still have a deal with Bally Sports could wind up with a lot less revenue in 2024. In addition to the Twins, the other 11 MLB teams that still have deals with Bally are the Braves, Marlins, Tigers, Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Guardians, Rangers and Rays.
The Cubs, for now, are more or less immune to this issue, because they co-own their RSN, Marquee Sports Network, and Marquee is, at least right now, in good financial shape.
But if teams are going to start cutting payroll, we’re going to wind up with an even starker divide between wealthy, high-payroll teams and clubs that have to cut as the Twins are reportedly going to do. Further, as I have noted previously, this very likely will lead MLB to ask for a salary cap in the next CBA negotiation. You obviously know how far that’s going to go with players, and it will likely lead to another lockout.
Try to enjoy the next three MLB seasons.