The San Diego Padres have long been married to one of the lowest payrolls in baseball despite excellent fan support and a gorgeous downtown ballpark. So what gives? Well, over the past 10 years the Padres have been married to a television deal with Cox Communications that, according to Forbes magazine, yields the second-lowest revenue in all of Major League Baseball.
That deal is set to expire and Padres CEO Jeff Moorad is currently in negotiations trying to ink a new deal and says, “we hope to have something concluded sooner rather than later.”
This is a huge development for the cash-strapped Padres, who entered the season with an opening day payroll of $45,869,140 according to USA Today. That’s 27th in baseball.
With a $15 million high-definition video board upgrade scheduled for Petco Park, the new television money will have to be balanced between the players on the field and needed enhancements to the franchise as a whole. But let’s face it, the Padres lucked out for years having a cheap impact player like Adrian Gonzalez. Now that Gonzalez is gone, it’s obvious what the 27th ranked payroll will buy you in terms of offense. The answer? Not much.
For years those in and around the Padres have lamented the fact that the franchise was essentially held hostage by the Cox TV deal. Now that the team is set to be free from that burden, we expect there will be a gradual increase in spending. We won’t see an instant change the minute a new deal is signed, but it could impact the team’s payroll by as much as $10 million next season. That’s more than 1/5th of the current payroll.
As long as it is used wisely the Padres could become players in the free agent market for second-tier impact guys as early as this winter. In the immediate term, holding on to a guy like closer Heath Bell becomes a lot easier with an immediate infusion of cash.