But that money is based on production and projection, as well as market factors. Let's not kid ourselves. It's not like schlubs are making hundreds of millions of dollars. Let's take a look at some of the largest contracts in baseball, most of the ones that are greater than $200 million. They belong to
Bryce Harper ($330m), Gerrit Cole ($324m), Machado ($300m), Alex Rodriguez ($275m), Rendon ($245m), Mike Trout ($427m), Stanton ($324m), Arenado ($260m), and then onto Pujols ($240m) and Cano ($240).
These are some of the best players currently in the game -- or who have been for the previous 20 years in the game. They're paid, yes, for past production, but increasingly baseball does an excellent job of paying for future performance. MLB teams do that better than probably any other professional sport -- as far as paying high for future performance now, not high for past performance. The market has shifted because of the analytics, and that's why we see players in their mid-20s, getting bonkers deals, while players in their mid-30s are getting shorter deals. That's a change -- for the better.
So, yes, playing time is tied to salary because again -- expected performance is tied to salary, more than ever. And this is true in other businesses as well, not just sports. A publisher enters into a mega deal for an author, that author is going to get a promotion machine behind her/his book, whether it's any good or not. That megadeal assures shelf placement. Same with movie stars. I imagine it won't take too long to thing of someone in your profession who gets a benefit of playing time (whatever the equivalent is) because of the person's salary. That's the model. That's what having a union assures. That's what our cultural model allows.