When the figure came out that MLB’s league-wide revenues were approx. $7.5 billion for 2012, a question that came up afterwards was, “How much was revenue-sharing, and how much did each club getting revenue-sharing receive?” The latter may never be known (for those wondering, the last time that figures came out in the media was 2002 and 2003, which can be see here), but the total figure, is.
According to a source with direct knowledge of the figure, the amount of revenue-sharing that funneled from the haves to the have-nots in MLB this year was approx. $400 million. While the money is not distributed evenly across the clubs, if the 15 lowest revenue-makers were given an equal portion it would equal approx. $27 million for each of those clubs.
The amount of revenue-sharing in Major League Baseball should stymie any talk that clubs can’t—at the very least—be able to compete selectively in the free agency space from time to time. It also affords club opportunity to wrap up talent on their rosters to avoid them leaving once they hit free agency. While it’s clear that the amount of revenue-sharing they received this year is not enough to cover the entire amount, the Rays likely covered a lot of the annual salary increase needed to ink Evan Longoria to his $100 million extension with revenue-sharing proceeds. That’s the purpose of revenue-sharing.
Finally, there's this to consider. With the skyrocketing growth of regional sports network revenues, plus the continued robust nature of baseball as an entertainment option, it seems that in the very near future we'll see revenue-sharing in MLB surpass a half-a-billion dollars. With it, let's hope clubs are using the gifted money from their large revenue-making brethren wisely.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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