MLB Should Threaten Tanking Teams With Relegation

#1
My son and I have been talking about this for years.

SI

There aren’t enough bad words to describe the Orioles, and yet they’re somehow not even the worst team in baseball: The Tigers are 35–80 and have won a grand total of 13 games since the end of May. Nor are those two alone in their awfulness. The Blue Jays are flirting with their first 100-loss season in 40 years. The Royals are on pace to lose 102 games. The White Sox will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season. The Mariners player with the most Wins Above Replacement in 2019 is Edwin Encarnacion, and he was traded two months ago. The Marlins are en route to a 10th consecutive losing season. And the Pirates are a staggering 5–24 in the second half.

It’s flat-out embarrassing that there are this many bad teams in baseball, and worse, the majority of those squads came into the year with no hope of contending and no chance of being anything other than terrible. That’s a disservice to the fans of those teams and of MLB as a whole. Things go wrong and bad seasons happen, but franchises intentionally coming into the year with Triple A-caliber rosters and racking up loss after loss is actively detrimental to the game.

How do you fix that, though? Simple: You make losing as painful as possible, and in that vein, there’s no better way to stop tanking in baseball than to borrow a page from the Premier League’s book and institute relegation. At the end of the season, the six worst teams in the majors—three from each league—are sent down to Triple A. If the Orioles aren’t capable of contending at the major league level, then they shouldn’t be here. Nor should the Tigers or the Marlins or the half-dozen other teams seemingly content to waste everyone’s time.

This won’t happen. There are too many logistical issues and holes, and neither the league nor the Players Association would ever agree to it. But when the other alternative is letting the Orioles make a mockery of the sport day in and day out, it’s clear that MLB has to do something—anything—to force those teams to be better.
As stated it will never happen if for no other reason than the minor league teams are tied to major league clubs and it would be very odd when someone who is playing for Louisville gets called up to Cincinnati. Or a Pawtuckett player goes to Boston. Especially if they are in the same division and scheduled to face one another that week.
 
#2
This year has been pretty extreme in the American League, with literally half the teams punting on the season. The National League was far better with really only the Marlins actively trying to lose.

I think one of the problems is the draft pick penalties for signing free agents. It really puts teams in the middle of the pack in terms of talent in a situation where they have to decide whether to try to improve through the draft or through free agency, because they can’t really do both. And since young players are so much cheaper than veterans players, they pretty much always choose the draft. Draft pick penalties for signing free agents should be eliminated.

Another issue is too many players not hitting free agency until they’re in their 30s. Teams that are a couple years away won’t sign older free agents because they’re afraid they’ll be too old by the time the rest of the team can compete. Get younger players hitting free agency and teams a couple years away will go after those younger players - like Manny Machado and San Diego. It might be better to tie free agency to age instead of service time.

Overall, baseball needs to be doing a better job of making sure the best 750-ish players in the world are on major league rosters. Which isn’t the case when for whatever reasons Dallas Keuchel, Vlad Jr and Craig Kimbrel are sitting at home for long stretches of the season.
 
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#3
Austin
My son and I have been talking about this for years.

SI



As stated it will never happen if for no other reason than the minor league teams are tied to major league clubs and it would be very odd when someone who is playing for Louisville gets called up to Cincinnati. Or a Pawtuckett player goes to Boston. Especially if they are in the same division and scheduled to face one another that week.
So the author’s solution is to replace teams with “triple A rosters” who are doing a disservice to the majors, with actual triple A teams.
 
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