Just for a minute, lets look at another sport, Hockey. Free agency is part of the game of hockey as well, yet you do not see this mass exodus from small market teams to large market teams, nor do you see contracts in the range of 20 million dollars a year. So how is it that free agency has not ruined hockey as well as baseball? The thing that hockey did that baseball has not done is institute a salary cap. The cap for the 2010-2011 season in the NHL is $59.4 million. That means that each team can only spend as much as that throughout the season for on ice seth levinson agent. Now lets compare this to Major League Baseball. There are only 5 teams in all of baseball whose payrolls fall below the $59.4 million of the NHL and there are 8 teams over the $100 million mark and one team over the $200 million dollar mark. Baseball needs to institute some sort of Salary Cap, just like the NHL did, to combat the increasing values of free agents or the price of these players is only going to continue to rise out of control and small market teams are not going to be able to retain any of these players.
Baseball history, like all history, certainly is ever changing, but some aspects of the game have remained unchanged for well over a half-century. There are a few reasons for this – over time the basic rules of the game have for the most part remained unaltered; the development of essential skills continues to involve an investment of time and personnel by ball clubs; and fans have always flocked to see money players and exciting teams.
In 1976, Major League Baseball (MLB) was changed forever with the birth of free agency. Since its inception, the owners had held power over all players. They could trade anyone at anytime and control, with relative ease, what individuals would be paid. Great players, like Babe Ruth, usually commanded solid salaries but with free agency players were able to negotiate their contracts and to go to a team willing to pay their price.
Still, as it had always been, players had to have the skills a team needed to get their price. The one major difference was that players were now able to sign guaranteed contracts, which stated that they would be paid their salary no matter how they performed and even if they were injured.
Seventy-three years before free agency, professional baseball underwent a change that would influence the way in which the Majors conducted business and found players. In 1903 the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues, better known as the Minor Leagues, was formed in order to create some order in which Major League teams acquired players from small market clubs. In the 1930s the great Branch Rickey developed the structure for what we know today as the “Minor Leagues.” Rickey’s formalization of the “Minors,” which became dedicated to developing players who could perform in the Majors, was jokingly called the “farm system” because small town clubs were raising young players “like corn” down on the farm.