Many people now clamor to cap corporate executive compensation, especially for those running companies seeking government financial support. Wall Street firms are laying off personnel and withholding bonuses to those lucky enough to have not been fired yet this year. Corporations are increasingly cutting their work forces, pushing tens of thousands of people out of jobs, and putting unemployment claims at a 26-year high.
Many leading universities have declared hiring freezes and budgetary constraints likely to result in caps on raises for people they cannot terminate. A recession is underway and there are essentially no positive economic signals giving reason to be optimistic about any recovery.
Yet, meanwhile, baseball players in negotiations over their contracts appear unfazed by these economic realities–despite teams and agents signaling tough economic times ahead. Even so, team owners are paying up.
The New York Yankees are offering a 6-year $140 million to pitcher C. C. Sabathia, which he has not yet accepted. The Yankees are also offering $10 million a year to veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte, who is reportedly insisting on the same $16 million salary the team paid him last year.
Two days ago, the Boston Red Sox signed a 6-year contract with the third-year player, Dustin Pedroia, set to cost the team $40.5 million. The San Francisco Giants have agreed to pay $2.75 million next year to a relief pitcher, Bobby Howry.
Where will team owners get the resources to pay baseball players annual salaries of $1 to $10 million in the next several years as the economy and workforce reel in financial straits? If such soaring salary commitments persist, look for serious financial difficulties to beset major franchises. When the salaries come down, that may be an indicator that the recession is nearing an end.