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Prospects reaping benefits of revenue-sharing money

Ronald Blom Associated Press

NEW YORK – Several of the biggest beneficiaries of baseball’s revenue-sharing plan have among the lowest payrolls in the majors, spending the money on prospects, not stars.

Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the teams with the three lowest payrolls in the major leagues, all received huge increases in revenue sharing last year, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press.

All three teams, unsuccessful on the field in recent years, have chosen to invest the money in their futures.

“We’re not going to spend $10 million on one player,” Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy said. “It’s not going to get us to the World Series, although it might make some people feel better. We had the largest winning percentage in the minor leagues last year. For us, that’s the only way we’re going to compete, with our minor league system.”

Under baseball’s new revenue-sharing system, which changed formulas to help middle-market teams, high-revenue clubs gave up $220 million last year to their low-revenue competitors, up from $169 million in 2002.

Milwaukee got $16.6 million, up from $8.5 million, according to the figures, which were provided to the AP by a major league team executive.

Pittsburgh’s share more than doubled from $6.4 million to $13.3 million, and San Diego’s went from $6.2 million to $13.3 million. Tampa Bay’s increased from $14.6 million to $20.5 million.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said his team’s low payroll has led some to conclude the team isn’t spending money.

“It’s not only the fans,” he said. “I don’t think players understand. I don’t think employees in our organization understand the money that goes into player development and scouting. I have to educate them on that.”

Montreal, owned by the other 29 teams, received the most revenue-sharing money last year ($29.5 million), followed by World Series champion Florida ($21 million), Tampa Bay and Kansas City ($19 million).

Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar went with youth after watching Greg Vaughn sign a big-money deal and become a bust.

“We’ve taken giant steps over the last several years,” he said.

The A.L. champion New York Yankees paid a major-league high $52.7 million, up from $26.6 million, and Boston’s bill increased to $38.7 million from $17.9 million. Seattle paid the third-most ($31 million), followed by the New York Mets ($21.5 million), San Francisco ($13 million) and Chicago Cubs ($16.7 million).

Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, says it appears the new system is working. He cited San Diego, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Kansas City as among the teams with young talent.

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