The Rays Tank: Are new TV deals changing the landscape of Major League Baseball?

Ronald Martinez

New TV deals may be changing the way MLB does business.

The Tampa Bay Rays have their first one-hundred-million dollar man.

In locking up Evan Longoria until 2023, the Rays have done what many thought was once impossible for a small market club and retained the face of the franchise for likely the duration of his career.

One has to wonder what changed to make the Rays think they spend this kind of money. What caused such a stark shift in the payroll strategy? My guess, flip on your television.

This weekend, the Dodgers and Fox Sports West agreed on a new television deal worth over 6 billion dollars. Yes, billion, with a B. Over at Fangraphs, Wendy Thum examined the deal as well as every other TV contract in baseball. It is a fascinating piece and a must read.

The new dodgers deal will net over $240-million per year. In comparison, the Rays current deal with Sun Sports is worth about $20-million annually. But that deal is set to expire in 2016, right before Evan Longoria's new contract kicks in, and with soaring ratings throughout Tampa Bay, the new deal is expected to be significant.

In addition, the new ESPN-MLB television deal should send an estimated $25-million to each club. Stu Sternberg denied any correlation to this money and Longoria's deal getting done, but one can't help but imagine all this extra money could help even the playing field just a little bit.

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