If you have been paying attention to the hot stove season this winter, you've probably noticed that it has been going pretty slow. Not just for the Yankees mind you, but for all of baseball. Though a few players have signed here and there, and one blockbuster trade between and Miami and Toronto has been hashed, overall the pace has moved as slow as the discussions about the fiscal cliff. RJG sent out its investigative reporting team to find out the cause of this slow winter.
It was a brisk November evening when we met with a free agent player who's identity will remain anonymous out of respect for his on going negotiations. Sitting in a midtown cafe, this player revealed to us the real problem with the off season.
"Us players are scared of the fiscal cliff." He said.
"What?" We answered.
"No one wants to sign a multi-million dollar contract without knowing if it will be taxed at the Clinton era tax rates, or at the Bush era tax rate. Its keeping us all fearful of signing a deal."
Still confused, we pushed on.
"How will your decision be different if you're under the Clinton era tax rates as opposed to the Bush era rates?"
"How won't it be different? Here in the states, I could sign a deal for $13 million a year, but under the Clinton era tax rates, I'll be seeing much less of that. So if the Clinton era tax rates are instituted, I think I'll go overseas. I'll make about $10 million less, but at least I won't be taxed as highly for it."
"So you would take a $10 million dollar pay cut to avoid paying higher taxes?"
"Yes. You don't understand how hard it is. My oldest will be 18 soon. How will I afford to send them off to school in outerspace?"
"Yeah, you know, to study the universe. How else will they do it? With a telescope? Like some animal? Only in Obama's America."
It turns out this sentiment was widely felt throughout the baseball world. Non-free agent, but holder of the largest free agent contract ever, Alex Rodriguez, expressed his concerns on the matter.
"I understand why players are worried. You can't expect to increase taxes on us, and have us be okay. I mean, we're job creators. How will I keep creating jobs if I only get to hold onto millions of dollars instead of millions and millions of dollars? Its incredibly selfish."
Asked what jobs he was creating, A-Rod surprisingly gave some concrete examples.
"Just last year, my underperformance made the Yankees sign Eric Chavez. It also made them trade for Casey McGehee mid season. That's two jobs I created that would have never existed had I not been taxed under the Bush era tax rates."
Asked how the Bush era tax rates had anything to do with those two players getting brought to the Yankees, A-Rod answered:
"Well it happened under the Bush era tax rates, so there has to be a correlation."
So there you have it. The fiscal cliff is scaring free agents from signing contracts here in the states, causing the slowest hot stove season in recent memory.