I’d go with the most $ and then development if you’re in independent pro ball.
Steven’s advice is right on the money $$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Independent Leagues are a tough road. So offering this advice from one who’s been there may help you.
Independent League ball does not have the dynamics and tenure of the Majors. Nor does it have the farm systems, player development, and PR facilities – promotions, market exposure, endorsement dynamics, and above all the dollars and cents to build you a contract base. (more on the contract base later.)
And it’s wise not to get to far ahead of yourself with advising the casual reader on this or any other public forum of your business details – like what team or organization. The less everyone knows your personal business the better – at this time.
Due your homework early about the corporation, partnership, or joint-venture that owns the rights to this club or clubs that your contemplating on going with. Your contract talks will require a lot more questions than you can imagine. This is the first order of business – not playability options. So, what are your base conditions – then your options? Do errors on the field cost($) you anything? Do you have a bonus plan for performances? Do you have a “must” start and finish innings during the season? Do you have to provide any out-of-pocket expenses on your own? What’s the payroll system like and how does it work? (pay attention here)
For playability issues, what coaching reviews do you have to hold up to? Suppose coaches change during the season – does this affect the continuity of reviews? If so, how? If you get hurt during the season, what rehab programs ARE IN PLACE NOW to help you get back into the action? What’s available for medical staff – nurses, trainers, team physicians? Get some idea of the stadium and field conditions that your about to call home. Having a locker crawling with roaches and ants, a two stall toilet, and a one gallon hot water heater to shower thirty guys can be a tough introduction to the professional life. Also, what kind of neighborhood is your club located in? Are the “front office” suits located at the stadium or are they running a used car lot across town? Does the club own its stadium or is it negotiated year by year with a municipality, a realtor, an investment group, or what? What’s the credit reputation of the organization- do they pay their bills on time? Was the management staff changed recently and why?
Check the turnover of your coaching staff – does one coach take care of pitchers, infield and the local laundry runs? Are any of the coaches related to the ownership of the club?
Now for the best. I saved this for last … the contract stuff. Can your contract be sold to someone else? Well then, who - when – under what conditions? Can your contract be sold to another Independent League that you’ve never heard of … like in Canada, Mexico, Panama? Suppose you get an offer to sign on with a franchise system in the Majors – can you? If so, do YOU have to buy your contract back?.
Contract negotiations can be a real test of your business savvy and what your worth. Being too cheap is just as bad as being too expensive. And there’s the trick with Independent Leagues – the bench mark for a dollar on the muscle is a grey area that’s not easy to define. The team’s market base says a lot about your profitability… for the most important years of your playing career. Every year that in the Independent League – you not in THEE SYSTEMS- the Majors. Every year that your in the Independent League your not being seen in THE SYSTEMS –the Majors. And finally, every year that your in the Independent Leagues there’s someone who’s taking your place in THEE SYSTEMS – the Majors. Whether it be at the rookie level, A, double A – your not there, someone else is.
If your good enough to be considered by an Independent League front office – your good enough to be considered by a franchise in THEE SYSTEMS – the Majors. Put your shoulder to the wheel and go after it like you’ve never wanted anything else.
Believe me, the novelty of playing pro ball wears off quickly in the Independent Leagues. Oh, some of these clubs are great to be with, great to play for, a charmed life to be sure – but, why settle for it when your heart and your pocket book says … Majors.