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CBA Musings (1/14): What’s Happening and What’s Next?


Ted Schwerzler
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42 days had passed since Major League Baseball had met with the players union. Following his decision to lock out the players, Rob Manfred and the owners waited that amount of time to offer their proposal. Yesterday the event came and went.

There was never expected to be a deal struck yesterday, but it is unfortunate to see the parameters of Major League Baseball’s proposal. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan outlined, the highlights were a slight raise in the minimum salary, draft pick incentivization to teams that don’t manipulate service time, and tweaks to a proposed draft lottery. The universal designated hitter remained part of the current language and there was also the proposal of an expanded Postseason going to 14 teams from the current 12.

Lots of good nuggets were thrown out on Twitter yesterday and each of them is worthy of being addressed. Let’s get into those:

On minimum salary -

That's a decent start, but a substantial amount of Major Leaguers make the league minimum. After being underpaid as minor leaguers a $30,000 jump might not be seen as much of a needle mover.

On the Luxury Tax-

This is arguably the most notable area of contention for players. While Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap, many organizations act as though there is one. Few ever venture into the Luxury Tax, and plenty more come right up next to it while avoiding additional spending. The owners willing to move just $4 million while the players are hoping for $35 million is an inconsequential concession. The little bit of movement also suggests that owners don't want spending power for their teams to go up as they'd then be expected to allocate those funds. Obviously this was met with frustration by the players. Apparently the owners viewed this proposal as far from complete, and despite the lack of urgency, will tackle only certain issues at a time.

On service time manipulation-

From the moment I saw this included I wondered how it would be applied. Service time manipulation has been beyond evident at times and yet players still are told to deal with it. As Eugene notes in the tweet above, tying service time manipulation to outcomes driven from outside sources, the issue is no longer being handled by the parties involved. It'd be great for teams to promote players when they are ready, but the most beneficial thing to an organization is how long they can control a player at less than market value.

On free agency-

Keeping a player away from free agency remains of the utmost importance to owners. While being paid through arbitration the wages are significantly diminished and contracts are handled on a yearly basis. The idea of small or mid-market teams stems from owners wanting a fanbase to believe they are not able to spend with larger geographical locations. There are certainly more desirable places to play, but players don't leave teams for those reasons as much as they go to where the payday will come. Most small and mid-market teams look to flip their stars before paying them, and that's a much greater issue regarding competitive balance than any decision a player will make on their own.

Again, there was never a belief that yesterday would mark a deal getting done, but the state of negotiations as they stand now isn't a promising one. The owners took over a month to propose a deal with many non-starters for players and have took the stance that they were only focused on parts of the puzzle. At the end of the day Spring Training is looking more and more in question. Players skipping games is really the only want owners feel it in their pocketbooks, and we're rolling towards that reality.

As the calendar turns day by day, the greatest indicator of progress will be how quickly counter-proposals are set forth. If we're continuing to do this weeks at a time, baseball by May might be a longshot.

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While I don’t like the proposal I think it makes sense.  The owners are not going to start high on any of those numbers knowing the players association has to counter propose.  They need to give them a win or wins and given how low they started they should be able to reach hero level status pretty easily. 

Not sure they meet directly in the middle but there will be movement and the end result won’t be close to these numbers.  Those numbers on the surface to a novice like me seem like a slap in the face to be honest.  What they have proposed to this point doesn’t help younger players much at all that I can see.  I really don’t like service time manipulation because the players are working their way up in good faith and to break that just seems evil to me. It just really burns me.  They need to do more there IMO.

At any rate this is just round one and I don’t see spring training in the cards this year.  I just hope they don’t come close to wiping out the season getting the numbers both sides know they need to get to.

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I do not understand the issue with the tax line, and how the players think going from 210 to 245 will make much of a difference.  It may have a counter affect actually.  First, last year only 2 teams were paying the tax, Dodgers who were way over the number, and Yankees who were just over it.  Now I know that was in part because Yankees were in the repeat offender level which kicks up the amount you owe.  

However, only 3 teams last year had 200 mil or more, Met just over 200 mil.  As of right now only 3 team is over the 210 and 2 over 214 proposed by owners now, of course there is still a couple of big names to sign, but Mets are only team over the number.  No other team is close to 200 mil.  

The point I am making, is the players clearly are saying they want the Dodgers, Mets, and Yankees to keep paying as much as they want for players without any impact.  The fact no other team is close to 200 mil shows that 210 tax line is not deterring teams from signing players because of going over tax.  It only deters Yankess, Mets, and Dodgers, and all three will go over, just how much and how often. 

Do the players think that if those big three can just keep paying more, other teams will try to outbid them?  I highly doubt that.  The tax line is what has allowed them to bid for some of the others.  One thing the tax does is takes dead money from big three teams and gives them to lower market teams, allow them to spend more on players.  Now, if you take that away it is possible those really small market teams will not even be able to pay arbitration guys and force to trade them prior to that. 

I would see more the players concerns if many teams were right at say 200 to 209 mil but never going over the 210 mark, but that is not the case.  The players clear message is we want the big three teams to jack up the bidding for us and never be priced out, in hopes a different team takes the jump and hope they do not get burned.  My guess it will look like we did in late 90's early 2000's where every top FA went to one of the top 5 spending teams with the once in awhile surprise signing, which normally resulted in a dump off trade because the team could not sustain the huge contract and the player did not give the team the funds they were hoping the big deal would bring in. 

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2 hours ago, Dman said:

While I don’t like the proposal I think it makes sense.  The owners are not going to start high on any of those numbers knowing the players association has to counter propose.  They need to give them a win or wins and given how low they started they should be able to reach hero level status pretty easily. 

Not sure they meet directly in the middle but there will be movement and the end result won’t be close to these numbers.  Those numbers on the surface to a novice like me seem like a slap in the face to be honest.  What they have proposed to this point doesn’t help younger players much at all that I can see.  I really don’t like service time manipulation because the players are working their way up in good faith and to break that just seems evil to me. It just really burns me.  They need to do more there IMO.

At any rate this is just round one and I don’t see spring training in the cards this year.  I just hope they don’t come close to wiping out the season getting the numbers both sides know they need to get to.

Round one was due 30 days ago

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Any stop of play will adversely affect the game and people should remember that most young prospects are not allowed to gain any experience in the minor leagues if they are on the 40 person rosters. The owners want to show power and the PA is misguided in their ideas with raising the luxury tax limits. It is, frankly, shocking that the PA does not focus more on expansion and set wages in years 1-3 at a much higher increased rate of pay than is currently used. 

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9 hours ago, tony&rodney said:

Any stop of play will adversely affect the game and people should remember that most young prospects are not allowed to gain any experience in the minor leagues if they are on the 40 person rosters. The owners want to show power and the PA is misguided in their ideas with raising the luxury tax limits. It is, frankly, shocking that the PA does not focus more on expansion and set wages in years 1-3 at a much higher increased rate of pay than is currently used. 

Have to agree.  It has been very evident from the start of this process and long before that the MLBPA is not representing their majority of players.  They are fixated on terms and conditions that favor a relatively small portion of their members.  Does anyone believe their motivation for decreasing revenue sharing by $100M was about competitive integrity?  The intent of the combination of reduced revenue sharing and increased CBT is about as simple as it gets.  Give the big market teams $100M of revenue sharing back and raise the competitive balance tax enough so that they will assuredly spend the entire $100M where small market teams will not.  Their actions suggest they don’t care a bit about competitive balance.  Yet, a lot of people buying this load of crap.

Here’s a newsflash… That subset of players we would consider starters (not stars) that reach free agency before age 30 are doing phenomenally well.  The players are either victim of misguided leadership or they all are hoping one day they will earn land a contract that provides generation wealth and they are willing to go along with practices that are very focused on the top 10-20% of players.

I guess they can take that chance.  Nick Punto made $23M over his career and an equivalent player starting their career now would make $30M.  That player can retire in their mid 30s, buy a 2 million dollar home and a $10M of rental property, pay someone to manage it and take home $600K/year plus their pension and medical is paid for life.  If that player got a nice draft bonus they can buy a private plane and a nice summer home too.

They should focus on some type of policy to curtail service time manipulation, raising compensation in years 1-3 as much as possible and granting free agency based on age or the current system, whichever comes first.  If they were really smart they would also change the distribution of revenue sharing to include a component based on player payroll.  Adding the DH and a couple playoff teams would also be financial gains.  Add them all together and their already extremely fortunate position gets even better.
 

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https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/12/apple-potential-bid-for-mlb-package-could-bring-big-player-into-sports.html

"Octagon analysts used 108 out of 114 games from MLB’s 2018 to 2020 seasons to determine average viewership on the Monday-Wednesday package on ESPN, not including ESPN2 broadcasts. They found average viewership of 761,434 in 2018, dropping to approximately 632,000 in 2019 and 358,947 in 2020."

I wonder if either side is looking at viewership as part of their negotiations. Hard to spend revenue that isn't coming in.

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51 minutes ago, Steve71 said:

MLB, can you explain what you mean by "they would also change the distribution of revenue sharing to include a component based on player payroll"?  This sounds intriguing.

I posted this idea in a different thread.  The goal would be to distribute more of the revenue sharing pie to teams receiving revenue sharing based on how much they spend more on payroll.  Instead of distributing it to teams that are not spending it on players, distribute a greater portion to teams that are spending.  If teams were to get more revenue sharing if they spent it, you have to believe they would spend more.  This would put lower revenue teams in a better competitive position.  This would be good for the game, the fans, and of course the players.

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10 minutes ago, Dave The Dastardly said:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/12/apple-potential-bid-for-mlb-package-could-bring-big-player-into-sports.html

"Octagon analysts used 108 out of 114 games from MLB’s 2018 to 2020 seasons to determine average viewership on the Monday-Wednesday package on ESPN, not including ESPN2 broadcasts. They found average viewership of 761,434 in 2018, dropping to approximately 632,000 in 2019 and 358,947 in 2020."

I wonder if either side is looking at viewership as part of their negotiations. Hard to spend revenue that isn't coming in.

I have yet to meet a business owner or senior executive in the private sector that was not concerned about revenue.

Are changes like banning shifts / pitch clock or electronic strike zone part of the CBA?

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Manfred said at the beginning of the lockout in a letter ..

 

We owe it to the fans to get a quick resolution  to the cba ..

 

What a crock  , Manfred and owners don't care about the fans or even the game ,,,  money money and more money ,,,  players are guilty too but this time I'm on the players side because I just can't stand the lies from Manfred and the owners ...

Took 42 days to get to the table on economics  , that's just telling the fans you're lying to them .....

My prediction is the players strike and I hope not because I love this game to much ...

Tell your friends 

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1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

I have yet to meet a business owner or senior executive in the private sector that was not concerned about revenue.

Are changes like banning shifts / pitch clock or electronic strike zone part of the CBA?

Are changes like banning shifts / pitch clock or electronic strike zone part of the CBA or pitchers facing 3 minimum batters ,,, 

Last year in playoffs I was so pissed off that Atlanta couldn't pull the pitcher who just came in and couldn't  find the strike zone ,, he had to face three batters  and didn't get any of them out ,,, mystek  came in to strike out the side and preserve the lead that eventually led to Atlanta winning over Dodgers  ... 

I was yelling at the TV to get the pitcher out of there after he walked the first batter ,, no strategy in allowing a pitcher  to stay in and facing 3 batters if your trying trying to win the game , supposedly its to speed the game up ...

None of Manfreds  stupid new rules have sped up the game  time ,, 

I'm okay with the shift if they keep the players on the dirt , players need to adjust and hit it where they ain't  ( there both strategy , hit it where they ain't and keep the shift on the dirt ) ....

Also remember  MANFRED  moved the Allstar Game out of Atlanta  to Colorado for HIS political reasons  and then has the gall to attend the games in Atlanta's world series  ...

That is a hypocrite  in my view ...

Manfred is bad for the game ..

Tell your friends 

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26 minutes ago, Blyleven2011 said:

Manfred said at the beginning of the lockout in a letter ..

 

We owe it to the fans to get a quick resolution  to the cba ..

 

What a crock  , Manfred and owners don't care about the fans or even the game ,,,  money money and more money ,,,  players are guilty too but this time I'm on the players side because I just can't stand the lies from Manfred and the owners ...

Took 42 days to get to the table on economics  , that's just telling the fans you're lying to them .....

My prediction is the players strike and I hope not because I love this game to much ...

Tell your friends 

Interesting take you have.  I guess I missed the part where owners are asking for "more money"  Their one ask is for a couple more playoff teams.  50% of the gate goes to players.  Given they spend 85-90% of revenue on operations and players salaries, where do you suppose most of the additional revenue will go?  Operating costs are not going up as a result of adding more playoff teams.  Not everyone would agree but the year we had expanded playoffs kept a lot more fans engaged.  The one thing they asked for is good for the players and the game.

Players on the other hand, have asked for less revenue sharing and a significantly higher competitive balance threshold.  They are also insistent upon reducing the length of control.  All three bad for the game.  The owners have offered an aged based system of control that would be beneficial to players who don't get to free agency at an age where they can really cash in.

I don't know how anyone can suggest the reason we are in this position is because players want more.  If the players were willing to extend the status quo we would be gearing up for spring training.  This is 100% about the players getting more and I would like to see that in years 1-3 but the MLBPA has put no emphasis on these players and have been fixated and unwilling to move off the 3 primary demands listed above.  The aged based free agency is a nice add too.

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9 minutes ago, Blyleven2011 said:

Are changes like banning shifts / pitch clock or electronic strike zone part of the CBA or pitchers facing 3 minimum batters ,,, 

Last year in playoffs I was so pissed off that Atlanta couldn't pull the pitcher who just came in and couldn't  find the strike zone ,, he had to face three batters  and didn't get any of them out ,,, mystek  came in to strike out the side and preserve the lead that eventually led to Atlanta winning over Dodgers  ... 

I was yelling at the TV to get the pitcher out of there after he walked the first batter ,, no strategy in allowing a pitcher  to stay in and facing 3 batters if your trying trying to win the game , supposedly its to speed the game up ...

None of Manfreds  stupid new rules have sped up the game  time ,, 

I'm okay with the shift if they keep the players on the dirt , players need to adjust and hit it where they ain't  ( there both strategy , hit it where they ain't and keep the shift on the dirt ) ....

Also remember  MANFRED  moved the Allstar Game out of Atlanta  to Colorado for HIS political reasons  and then has the gall to attend the games in Atlanta's world series  ...

That is a hypocrite  in my view ...

Manfred is bad for the game ..

Tell your friends 

I didn't ask for opinions on specific changes, I asked if they needed to be part of the CBA.  Viewership is declining.  There are a plethora of issues that need to be addressed.  I am wondering which issues would be part of a CBA.

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