It’s that time of year again when the Spring Training fever sweeps across the United States and the baseball community begins to gear up for another long season. Whether it is an over-weight ace, a fan favorite, or budding phenom, this is the first opportunity for baseball fans alike to get an initial glimpse at the potential Opening Day starters. Albeit overlooked, the next couple of months not only garner excitement among the fans but it also will play a quiet part in shaping the financial landscape of a baseball organization that season.
The Farm System and its Role in Revenue
Baseball is undeniably heralded as a 'team sport.' Unlike other sports, one player doesn’t determine the outcome of a season’s success. Large, active rosters with deep farm systems ensure that only the most talented and developed players will compete on the biggest stage.
The Minor League farm system consists of many different leagues that are organized in four different classes; Rookie, Class A, Double-A and Triple-A. For years, organizations have been relying on their Minor League systems to grow highly-touted prospects and other valuable players. Spring Training plays an integral role in developing this talent, leading to regular season success and, financially speaking, increased revenue.
In professional sports, winning is everything. The success of a team generally has a positive correlation to fan attendance. For example, we shift our focus to the NBA, the Golden State Warriors are experiencing a rise in ticket sales with their current performance on the court, leading to higher attendance figures in the last several years.
Now, what does this have to do with Spring Training?
Spring Training is fundamental in constructing a competitive team for the upcoming season. As has been noted above, competitiveness on the field leads to competitiveness in the market. A successful Spring Training can setup an organization for a year of financial success by helping decipher the best team possible.
Spring Training and Developing Player Value
In addition to increased ticket sales, Spring Training is an opportunity to increase a player's value to the team. Spring Training is the first concrete scenario for these players to begin making a name for themselves. It is a time for rookies and veterans alike to sharpen their skills through practices and friendly preseason games. In no other sport does a player have 6 weeks and upwards of 30 preseason games to enhance their ability prior to the season beginning. Oftentimes, ball players come into Sprint Training relatively unknown and leave as an important piece of the roster. As such, players not only increase their importance on the field, but coincidentally, their financial value.
Managing Player Value
Financially, professional baseball players are considered assets to an organization. Much like a non-sporting financial organization, a Major League Baseball team might handle their assets in a similar manner. This is done through the trade market and contract management. It is up to an organization to not only develop and increase a player's asset value through Spring Training but to also appropriately manage and insure that asset value.
Spring Training is an integral time for a baseball organization. The few short months spent in preparation for the season helps to place future stars in the appropriate Minor League level, and thus, organize the most competitive, active roster for the upcoming season. Furthermore, a successful Spring Training improves individual player performance and consequentially their asset value. These assets are the core of an organization and require careful management.
Yes, Spring Training may not carry the luster of the regular season but, as seen, it plays a very important role in the current and future financial success of an organization.
Tom is a second-year student at Cazenovia College working towards a degree in Sports Management. He is currently on the baseball team, and is very interested in interning for a Minor League Baseball team. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.