Giants President & CEO Larry Baer Discusses Tough '17 Season, Ballpark Attendance
The Giants were "expected to win 90-plus games" this season, but currently have MLB's worst record at 59-93, and now the club must win four of its last 10 to "avoid becoming the second in franchise history to lose 100," according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. When teams "fail in the face of high expectations," changes are "often made at a wholesale level." Giants President & CEO Larry Baer "reflects on a season that went sideways, the end of the sellout streak, the Giants’ strategy in the short to medium turn." Below are excerpts of a Q&A with Baer, some of which have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: You crossed the actual payroll threshold ($195M) for the third consecutive year in '17. Knowing the penalties go up for repeat offenders, are you looking at the '18 Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $197M as a hard salary cap for next season?
Baer: No. It’s not going to be a hard cap. But it is something that has implications that go way beyond having to write a check. For instance, when you lose a player to free agency, for a CBT team, the compensation is a fourth-round pick. If you’re not a CBT team, it’s a sandwich pick. That’s a big difference. Your international slot money is less if you’re a CBT team. I mean, there are just a lot of differences. Your revenue sharing components change if you’re a CBT team. And this is all in addition to the fines. And the whole thing is, we’ve been in the CBT for three years. Being in the CBT doesn’t assure you of anything. It doesn’t assure you’ll win more games.
Q: The sellout streak has ended, but the ballpark is mostly full most nights and crowds remain engaged when the team performs well. Do you envision a more challenging offseason in terms of renewals, etc.? And if you’re operating at less than full capacity in the future, or you forecast a dip in revenue on the baseball side, at what level do you believe the franchise can operate in terms of payroll?
Baer: Everything we’ve sensed so far, whether expressed in season tickets or sponsorships, we’re talking about very marginal decreases. We think from a revenue standpoint we’ll be pretty much as whole as we’ve been in the past. We just don’t see the drop off. ... We have 31,500 season-ticket holders and our initial soundings are they’re coming back.
Q: What is the temperature among ownership after such a disappointing season with such a high payroll?
Baer: We feel good about the future of the franchise. We feel good that we’ll be able to bounce back. We feel like this has been a frustrating and disappointing year but we’ve ... been doing this 25 years. So everybody’s fine and everybody is resolved to get the team back to where we want it to be (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/19).