Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Barack Obama Means To The MLB Free Agent Market...

In the jubilation of Barack Obama being named President-elect in some parts of the nation, Major League Baseball players and their agents have taken notice.

Despite Obama promising all Americans who make under $250,000 a tax cut, the current crop of free agents in the sport are a little concerned as to what could happen once he takes office.

I would assume this would not only affect baseball players, but also those in the NBA, NFL, NHL and other high dollar sports.

With free agents Mark Teixiera and A.J. Burnett on the market -- this may be a small part as to where they sign, but this topic may be bigger than we all think.

Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun touched upon this evening, and good pal Ian from Sox and Dawgs buzzed me about this issue.

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Some baseball agents already are thinking about trying to beat a possible tax increase for their well-paid clients under an Obama administration.

President-elect Barack Obama has proposed increasing the top federal income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, where it was under president Bill Clinton.

If signing bonuses are paid before Jan. 1, they likely would be taxed at the current rate and would not be subject to any increase.

"It's something we'll consider," agent Craig Landis said Tuesday at the general managers' meetings. "Besides the federal issue, we have a state issue in some cases, anyway, where it's advantageous to take signing bonuses because of the state income tax. A Florida resident can take the signing bonus and not have to pay his team's state tax."

Obama's proposal would increase federal income tax on families earning more than $250,000 annually, money that would help finance a decrease for workers and families earning less than $200,000. It's also possible more income might be subject to the Social Security tax.

Next year's major league minimum is $400,000. Agent Scott Boras, negotiating eight- and possibly nine-figure deals for free agents Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira, already has thought about the possibility of asking for larger signing bonuses payable this year in some of his contracts.

At this point, I don't have much sympathy for ballplayers who complain about the tax they are being levied when America is in an economic downturn, people are losing money in their 401K's, homes, and jobs.

Why would I, along with many fans who purchase tickets to events -- sometimes at a premium -- would have any heartfelt sorrow for athletes who at minimum make more than 20 times the national average salary?

With the Yankees and Mets opening up new ballparks in the next year, and salaries (still) escalating in sports, why should the average fan cry a river for these guys?

Everything is relative, right?

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