The Value of the Hometown Discount

It’s a term that’s been thrown around quite often during this week’s MLB hot stove – “hometown discount”. For those unfamiliar with the term, a hometown discount is when a player takes a bit of a paycut to play in the city that they grew up in, have family in, or where they started their career.

The problem with the hometown discount is that it seems like the valuation is at an astronomical level. To assume that a player would consider signing with club solely for the reason that it’s their hometown is a bit ludicrous. While it may play some part in their decision, in my mind here are the top reasons why a player signs a contract with a particular team:


  1. The money
  2. The chance to win
  3. Proximity to home
  4. Strip clubs per capita

One such example was last year when A.J. Burnett decided to opt out of his contract with the Blue Jays. Some speculated that he might sign with the Baltimore Orioles so he could be close to his wife Karen and their family in Maryland. Unfortunately, Burnett was tempted by the $82.5 million dollars from the Yankees and the bright lights of New York.

Burnett’s adversary and former mentor Roy Halladay could be one of the few exceptions to these rules. The team learned that Doc’s number one priority was winning, followed by the opportunity to be close to home, and money was the least of his concerns. His Mormon lifestyle basically rules out any possibility for reason number four, but if he gets a few beers into him who knows what might happen.

Home for Halladay would either be in Colorado where he grew up, or in Florida where he lives during the off season. If Doc places a lot of weight on which city he plays in, that means the Rockies, Rays or even the Marlins would be suitors for his services.

Another recent example involving the Blue Jays is the talk of trading Lyle Overbay to the Seattle Mariners. Overbay is well known to have grown up in Seattle and enjoyed the odd Vanilla Caramel Frappe from Starbucks while thrashing around in his plaid shirt listening to Pearl Jam.

This situation is a little trickier because Overbay is not a free agent and doesn’t really have a choice about where he is traded. But if a player does in fact have a no-trade clause, the hometown discount may not have that much baring on their decision.

So the next time you see the phrase “hometown discount” thrown around in trade talk and free agent speculation, remember that most baseball players couldn’t give a damn if the ballpark is 20 minutes from their backyard. Just like Puffy said, it’s all about the Benjamins baby.

Whether they want to admit it or not, the true reason why they sign on the dotted line in a certain city is because of one reason … strip clubs per capita. Don’t believe me? Just ask A-Rod.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

7 thoughts on “The Value of the Hometown Discount

  • November 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Totally agree with this. Players usually go for the home town discounts only after they've been paid, has won a few championships and is at the age where it would be embarassing if papparazzi's caught him at a strip club.

    Lyle Overbay's obsession with Pearl Jam has always puzzled me when there was a Seattle band a billion times better in Nirvana.

  • November 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Pearl Jam is a million times better than Nirvana.

    A home town discount means that if your home town team offers the same contract as the biggest offer you received on the market, you will sign with the hometown team.

  • November 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I would only accept Doc leaving Jays if he goes to the Rays. oh, me and my split loyalties.

  • November 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    You had me giggling with the "Strip Clubs per Capita" bit.

    And I love a good Puffy/P-Diddy/Diddy reference.

  • November 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    HLF, it's not something you see very often in baseball anymore. The most recent example I can site is Scott Rolen going to the Reds – but he didn't take a pay cut, and it was a trade not a free agent signing. Simply said – money is the ultimate motivator.

    Peter D, I think it's tomato/tomato on the hometown discount thing. There can either be another offer on the table for more money from another team, or the player can just sign for typically less to play close to home.

    Dave Schultz, methinks Doc is not going to Tampa Bay. But if they can make it to the playoffs next year, maybe Halladay will reconsider.

    eyebleaf, I figured you'd enjoy the Diddy shoutout. Mo money, mo problems!

  • November 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    So can we get Joey Votto on a great, long term deal? After we trade Overbay of course. I bet he would be willing to take somewhat of a hometown discount. Maybe. I can dream, right?

  • November 13, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Votto in Toronto? Wow – I can only imagine. He could relive that Canada/USA World Baseball Classic game every day. Sounds like the Reds are willing to part with anybody BUT Joey Votto, unfortunately for the Jays.

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