Monday Rockpile: TV Money Mystery

Joe Robbins

Just how much money are the Rockies going to have available in the second half of the decade?

Well folks, it turns out that articles like this one from the Salt Lake Tribune and this one from fangraphs claiming that the Rockies TV contract runs out after the 2014 season were wrong.

Yesterday's piece from Troy Renck detailing the Rockies financial situation with owner Dick Monfort had several interesting moments, but the following passage is by far the most important detail to take away for fans who have been waiting for news on the TV front.

"The critical revenue vein that the Rockies haven't successfully tapped as well as other teams is local TV money. The Rockies have a 10-year, $200 million contract that expires after the 2020 season, leaving them at a disadvantage. Based on recently negotiated deals, the Rockies will receive a significant boost in their next TV contract. The Rangers and Angels have new rights agreements that will pay them approximately $3 billion over the next 20 years."

That is a major game changer for fans who believed Martin Renzhofer and Wendy Thurm. Unfortunately, both of them dropped the ball on this one, especially considering that this article appears as option number seven when you type "Rockies TV contracts" into google, and it probably appeared as a top five spot when they were conducting "research" considering that both Renzhofer's and Thurm's articles appear ahead of the 2008 piece.

I've contacted Troy Renck about this and he's confirmed through both ROOT Sports and the Rockies that the deal runs through the 2020 season. However, there is one silver lining to this mess, and that involves the deal potentially being very back loaded.

Right now, the Rockies are getting $20 million a year from ROOT for the rights to carry 150 games a season, but it does sound like that number is going to increase following next season as we get into the second half of the 12 year deal agreed to after the 2008 season. With the details of the contract closed to the public for now however, the impact of that potential increase remains a mystery.

Yesterday's news also shines new light on this information released by Forbes in March. Here's the money quote.

"The Rockies will get a significant increase in their local television revenue. The current deal with Root Sports expires after 2014 and the extension that begins the following season could see the team double its cable fee."

You know what words suddenly look really interesting there?

"The extension that begins the following season."

I'm beginning to wonder if this is a situation similar to the arbitration process in baseball. For instance, Dexter Fowler's current deal in which he gets paid $7.35 million next year expires after the 2014 season, however, he remains under Rockies control through the end of the 2015 season because he is arbitration eligible (unless the Rockies decide to trade him before that time). In this situation, Fowler's contract with the Rockies technically runs out after 2014, but he's also still under contract for the 2015 season and could receive a big bump in pay.

Forbes hints at some sort of set up like this when it mentions that the current deal with ROOT Sports expires after 2014 but then immediately follows it up by mentioning that the contract could double in average annual value once the extension begins the following season.

Keep a close eye out for more details surrounding this because the amount of money the Rockies receive from their TV contract in the 2015 through 2020 seasons is critical for the success of those teams.

Some sort of significant bump in revenue here does make sense though. If it's not in order, I have no idea how the club could have made significant offers to Jose Abreu and Brian McCann while expecting to keep both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez around for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Those are the moves of team that should be expecting an increase in spending money.

Stay tuned, I don't believe this story has seen it's last critical twist and turn.

Links

Baseball's non tender deadline is today and the Rockies face a couple of decision deadlines. Wilton Lopez is certainly expected to be tendered but the Mitchell Boggs case could go wither way.

The Colorado rumors centered around catchers did not stop over the Thanksgiving holiday. A few sources have quietly indicated that the Rockies might make a run at Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Salty's career OPS being 196 points higher batting from the left side of the plate as opposed to the right side, a platoon in which he starts against all the right handed pitches and Rosario starts against all the left handed pitches (with Rosario then playing another position on most of the days Salty catches) could really, really work well. Any scenario involving that however would not work if Justin Morneau ends up signing with the team.

Also, a catching tandem of of Rosario and Saltalamacchia could end up being well below average defensively.

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