Peanuts and Cracker Jack #3: Buying the Postseason


Friday, Oct. 7 brought the first games of the 2022 postseason. Over the next few weeks, 12 teams will compete for the World Series trophy. Often, teams will make it to the postseason by signing star players and using money to win the Commissioner’s trophy.

Peter Philpott, Assistant News Editor

Money has been influencing the MLB more than talent for years. The 2022 season has ended, and most of the teams competing in the postseason are driven more by budget than current player talent. Correlations between a team’s net worth and stadium capacity directly affects win-loss success.

Simply put, if a team has more money, they have the ability to contract quality players. It’s no surprise that two of the biggest favorites to win the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, both have a huge budget and have been buying star players for years.

For teams like them, creating a good lineup is not dissimilar to looking through a catalog with an unlimited budget, and picking your favorite items you want to buy.

In recent years, the Dodgers have bought names such as Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and Craig Kimbrel. The Yankees don’t shy away either, signing Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aroldis Chapman.

The similarities between all of these players? Recent success. At the time of their signing, Scherzer, Cole, Betts, Chapman, and Turner had all won World Series titles in the past two years. As for Stanton, he had just come off of a season where he hit 59 home runs and collected an MVP title. Kimbrel had been an all-star eight times.

One way teams collect money for player acquisitions is through their home playing field.

Teams often collect revenue through stadium capacity, which means that if a team is poorer to begin with, it’s destined to stay at the bottom of the food chain. Dodger and Yankee stadium happen to be the second and third largest stadiums respectively in the majors. The more seats they sell, the more money they make. The more money they make, the more players they can buy.

Denver’s own Coors field happens to be the 4th largest park on that list, but they have wasted a lot of money in the past either on free agent veterans that waste our time, or, more recently, McGregor Square, a massive apartment complex adjacent to Coors field filled with Rockies-themed entertainment. However, all of the 365 million dollars used to build the complex could’ve instead been used to keep DJ Lemahieu, Trevor Story, and Nolan Arenado, the three players whose collective efforts brought the Rockies to the NLDS in 2018.

Recent financial decisions made by the Rockies have shown that baseball is becoming a business, not a sport.

The Dodgers and Yankees also, not coincidentally, have the two largest team net worths out of all MLB teams. The New York Mets, a team who won 101 games this season, is sixth in net worth, who acquired Edwin Diaz and the aforementioned Scherzer through trades. Those two pitchers not only made headlines, but, along with Jacob DeGrom, carried the Mets pitching staff.

You can also look at the San Diego Padres, who acquired big names recently in their team overhaul: Manny Machado, Josh Hader, Juan Soto. All of these players are coming to San Diego with decorations and fame.

As these star players begin to show up and perform, it’s easy to see the way that general managers have found a way to buy themselves into the postseason. Raising young players in the minor league system no longer matters, because as soon as a player achieves recognition, teams with money and appeal will be the ones to succeed.

One of the many things that are incredible about great players like Aaron Judge and Mike Trout is that they stayed with the teams they were drafted by. They weren’t just harvested and shipped off somewhere else. They rose through the ranks. If only we could have more players like that.

This story was among the submitted entries of this column which won First Place Column from CSMA.