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The Lockout Diaries: Week 7


Dear journal,

It's been 49 days since darkness fell upon the world of baseball. Rekindled negotiations between the league and MLBPA last week went nowhere as expected. We're back in a holding pattern with February fast approaching.

This sucks.

When I wrote to you last I expressed minimal hope for the bargaining session that was about to take place. It turns out my total lack of faith was warranted.  

Passan's assessment above is being generous. Spring training starting on time is not "in peril," it's out the window. The question now is how far it'll be pushed back, and whether the delays will spill over to the regular season.

Just writing that last sentence fills me with dread. This is all so dumb. The game of baseball is incredibly profitable and fans are hungry for it. Reasonable compromises are surely available. 

Yet there is no evident sense of urgency. The league waited six weeks before making a formal proposal on core economics. The players rejected it, and a week later, are said to be "preparing a response to MLB’s recent proposal to be delivered within days." We're fast closing in on February.

"At present, the 'talks' between the parties still amount to theater," writes Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic, "a Kabuki dance of proposals and counter-proposals that neither side is taking seriously."

I feel no confidence or optimism. Why would I? There hasn't been one signal to justify a positive attitude toward this process. 

It sucks.

To reference a 20-year-old quote in Rosenthal's article from Bud Selig (the former commissioner who looks remarkably competent in comparison to his successor): "If you remove hope and faith from the mind of a fan, you destroy the fabric of the sport.”


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From the owners standpoint, what is the hurry.  This is going to put the squeeze very badly on the mid level players, who are free agents into having them take one year bad deals or make good (read cheap contracts).  Harking back to my days in the computer industry, you can always find someone younger and cheaper to do the job. If they are  not quite as good, for a lot of clubs that may not matter, since most of those players will need jobs (the overseas market has been somewhat tapped out), will have to take bad deals.  The superstars will be paid, but the mid level players not under contract will see their earnings reduced.

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This work stoppage sucks!  It's a joke!  It's a slap in the face to the people that support MLB.  Manfred is a joke and the worst commissioner I have seen in over 50 years of me following MLB.  It's a sad case of greed by both sides.  A time of peril the past couple of years in our country dealing with a pandemic. And these people have the gall to think they are more important than the rest of us?  Please!  Owners:. If your franchises are so poor, sell them.  They have the highest value ever, many stadiums supported by tax payer dollars.  Players:. If your working conditions are so tough, find a real job.  There's plenty of openings out there.  You live in a fantasy world.  You already had the best player counteract of all sports.  Too bad nobody speaks up for the fans.  Maybe there won't be too many left if this stoppage cancels part or all of the season.  

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The owners are greedy, and I have little sympathy for them in any of this.  Yet, I agree with Whitey that baseball players do have the best contract in professional sports as they have no salary cap.  This allows the Correas of the world to get 300 million dollar contracts, but it doesn't do much for the average joe who is not a superstar.  I would have more sympathy for the players if they made it their clear priority to help the average player rather than the superstars that are already prospering under this system.  Boras brags about his influence with the players union, and many of the negotiating committee members are his clients.  I think this causes them to negotiate what is best for the superstars.  You see lots of players in free agency now who have a hard time finding homes.  If free agency comes earlier, the players who will really benefit are the Correas of the world as they will get their megacontracts a year or two earlier.  The average joe will still be lucky to find a job.  Why not negotiate for a doubling of the minimal salary which would help far more players as only a very small percentage of them will ever be signed to 300 million dollar contracts.  Greed on both sides.

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I don't have cable, so do not have ESPN etc.  Is this being covered heavily there?  Maybe I have missed it, but this seems to be hardly covered in the regular news, and spring training is not that far away.  If this was football, I feel like it would be a bigger story outside the sports channels.

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As much as I dislike Manfred - he is the same toady we have had all my life -

  • Ford Frick had been a writer and a teacher,  He helped establish the HOF,  He was there for the expansion of the leagues, but was criticized for his hands off and inaction work. 
  • Eckert knew nothing about baseball He admitted he had not attended a game in the previous decade.  In fact, he did not know the Dodgers had moved to LA, but the owners were tired of a strong leader.  Marvin Miller was then hired by the union and he was too formidable for Eckert.  He also mishandled baseball response to the Kennedy assassination. 
  • Bowie Kuhn was terrible and a racist,  He lost the reserve clause which was a boon to players, but owners hated it.  He had a seven week strike in 1981.  When he was let go by the owners in 1983, Hank Aaron applied for the job and said, "“I’m not saying I’m the one who should get the job — maybe I’m not — but I do think we need a baseball man. A baseball man would be more conscious of what is good for the fans. When I interviewed with the search committee for the job, they told me that baseball has grown so much we need a commissioner who understands finance and marketing. If that’s what they want, fine. But I think a baseball man knows more about marketing our game — about bringing players into our game and fans into our stadiums — than someone who doesn’t know anything about the game.”
  • Ueberroth settled an umpire strike, and also ended a one day player strike and most importantly for the game got big TV contracts, but most importantly he was an Olympics guy, 
  • Giamatti was the exception, but only lived another year, 
  • Fay Vincent was also a good man, 
  • Selig who had lots of mixed moments, and the all star game kerfuffle was a signature moment
  • finally the ultimate corporate man and gunslinger for the owners - Manfred. 
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It’s not as if the players are asking for a raise of X and that raise will assuredly cost the owners X or something close to it.  If the owner are all about greed what’s to stop them from spending the exact amount they are today even if they gave into all of the players demands?

Increasing the luxury tax impacts just a handful of teams.  That would in all likelihood result in 2-3 or maybe 4 teams in any given season increasing the amount they spend.  It would have zero impact on the financials of roughly 25-27 teams.  So, it’s safe to say greed among owners is NOT holding up an agreement where this item is concerned.  

Reducing revenue sharing would be a financial hit to the smallest teams if they continued to spend at current levels.  Of course, that’s not what would happen.  They would spend less.  They would be less capable of retaining players like Tampa just did with Tatis or Longoria a few years ago.  Braun with Milwaukee, etc.  I doubt greed had as much to do with their rejection of this demand as much as the impact on competitive balance.  Of course, that ultimately is a means to protect revenue but the implications are significantly different.

Reducing team control also is an item that would have little financial impact on most teams.  The result would be top FAs going to the highest revenue teams a year earlier.  The impact would be proportional to revenue level.  The further down the revenue chain the more likely the team would be to lose players to the top revenue teams.

These three demands are the core of the player’s demands.  Alone they are problematic. Their combined affect would make it even harder for small and mid market teams to retain players or compete in general.  They only benefit a handful of teams and most likely top tier free agents while hurting the rest of the league and their fans.  Make no mistake, we don’t have baseball because the player’s are demanding things that are bad for the game.

Each generation of player is far more fortunate than the previous.  What they should be focused on are changes that bring back more excitement to the game or benefit competitive balance and/or revenue generation.  It would be nice if they focused on their entire constituency and spreading the wealth a little.  That’s most definitely not their focus.  It sure looks like Boras is orchestrating what's best for Boras corp with little concern for the game.

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4 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

Bowie Kuhn was terrible and a racist, 

All I remember of Bowie was the TV cameras focusing on him, sitting behind a dugout during a world series game, I believe Phillies were one of the teams, in the midst of torrential rain, monsoon like, and refusing to postpone or delay the game. Afterward he said it wasnt raining that hard. A perfect metaphor: Floating in the middle of the ocean and denying you're wet. The refusal to deal with reality produced stupidity then, and today history repeats itself.

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20 hours ago, ashbury said:

Each generation of owner is far more fortunate than the previous. 

True.  How does that change the fact these extremely fortunate players are demanding changes that would hurt the game because they feel they are not getting enough?  Are they extremely well compensated or not.  Would the demands I outlined hurt the game or not?  We are probably going to miss part of the season because they don't feel they are adequately compensated which I find absurd.  Especially when the top guys are getting paid a ton and they put no focus on taking care of the other 3/4 of the players.  This reeks of Boras influencing what's good for him and his clients with little regard for the game.  Boras influence or not, explain to my a Twins fan should support what they are demanding.

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2 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

How does that change the fact these extremely fortunate players

You complain that posters have biases.  Yet you use your own evident anti-labor bias to continually frame the discussion.  I'm not having it.

As for missing part of the season, bear in mind that it's a lockout, not a strike. 

You want to see the world through a funhouse mirror, fine.  I'll call it out when I see it, but I'm not engaging in some pointless back-and-forth.  We're very aware of management's position.

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2 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

How does that change the fact these extremely fortunate players are demanding changes that would hurt the game because they feel they are not getting enough?  

Substitute "owners" for "players" in this sentence and it's just as true.  We wouldn't even be talking about this if both parties weren't arguing the same basic premise from both sides of the literal and figurative coin.  

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1 hour ago, wsnydes said:

Substitute "owners" for "players" in this sentence and it's just as true.  We wouldn't even be talking about this if both parties weren't arguing the same basic premise from both sides of the literal and figurative coin.  

What are the owners asking for that would be bad for the game?  Please be specific.  There is a hole lot of generalities being thrown around on this subject without any validation.

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On 1/21/2022 at 2:31 PM, ashbury said:

You complain that posters have biases.  Yet you use your own evident anti-labor bias to continually frame the discussion.  I'm not having it.

As for missing part of the season, bear in mind that it's a lockout, not a strike. 

You want to see the world through a funhouse mirror, fine.  I'll call it out when I see it, but I'm not engaging in some pointless back-and-forth.  We're very aware of management's position.

You conveniently left out most of my quote.  We are not having a discussion.  You are not willing to address the issues directly.  Prove you position instead of insisting I could only come to these conclusions via bias.  The players have 3 demands I have cited as the problem.  The are as follows.  All I have asked is for someone to tell me the these demands would not expand the currently level of disparity which is obviously bad for the game.  So do that instead of bitching about my bias. 

Will a significantly higher competitive balance expand the competitive disparity between top and bottom revenue teams.  The answer is obviously yes so how is this not bad for the game?  Who does it benefit.  A handful of top revenue teams and top free agents.

Do we even have to discuss the merit of reducing revenue sharing?  Does it get any more obvious that this would further competitive disparity.

Shortening the length of control helps two small groups.  The largest revenue markets will get top free agents a year earlier.  How is this beneficial to the game and how is it not a slap in the fact to small and mid market teams.

Edit:  This invitation to explain how these three demands are not bad for teams with below average revenue / the game and MN Twins fans is extended to anyone here.  Alternatively, an explanation as to why we should want the owners to cave to these demands in spite of it being bad for the game is also welcome.  Without these explanations to continue to blame the owners is head in the sand logic.

 

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1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

What are the owners asking for that would be bad for the game?  Please be specific.  There is a hole lot of generalities being thrown around on this subject without any validation.

They essentially want the status quo.  Hard to imagine that being good for the game given its trajectory.  And let's not forget this is a lockout, not a strike.  Also hardly good for the game.

This has been hashed out all over this site.  Probably doesn't need to be done here too.

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34 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

They essentially want the status quo.  Hard to imagine that being good for the game given its trajectory.  And let's not forget this is a lockout, not a strike.  Also hardly good for the game.

This has been hashed out all over this site.  Probably doesn't need to be done here too.

Actually, I don't see much "hashing out of anything.  Just general statement like this one.  I said players are demanding changes that would hurt the game because they feel they are not getting enough?   You replied that we could replace players and owners in that sentence.  When pushed for specifics you reply they want the status quo.  I agree but that obviously means they are not demanding changes that are bad for the game. 

They don't have any demands.  Therefore, the options we can evaluate is the status quo or what the players are demanding.  What the players are demanding is obviously bad for the game and a whole lot of people want to ignore the specifics and insist it's a matter of mutual greed or the owners fault for not giving the players what they want. 

Why should we want more competitive disparity?  Does anyone really want to argue the things the player's are arguing for would not expand the competitive advantage between the top and bottom the league in terms of revenue?  Does anyone want to argue reducing control would not put top free agents in the highest revenue markets a year earlier?  

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14 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

Actually, I don't see much "hashing out of anything.  Just general statement like this one.  I said players are demanding changes that would hurt the game because they feel they are not getting enough?   You replied that we could replace players and owners in that sentence.  When pushed for specifics you reply they want the status quo.  I agree but that obviously means they are not demanding changes that are bad for the game. 

They don't have any demands.  Therefore, the options we can evaluate is the status quo or what the players are demanding.  What the players are demanding is obviously bad for the game and a whole lot of people want to ignore the specifics and insist it's a matter of mutual greed or the owners fault for not giving the players what they want. 

Why should we want more competitive disparity?  Does anyone really want to argue the things the player's are arguing for would not expand the competitive advantage between the top and bottom the league in terms of revenue?  Does anyone want to argue reducing control would not put top free agents in the highest revenue markets a year earlier?  

As far as I'm concerned, this is semantics.  Changes or not, the status quo is bad for the game, which ultimately appears to be your point about the players.  

You're trying to have it both ways.  The players are hurting the game with what they want, but the owners wanting things to stay the same isn't bad for the game.  The fact that the game is trending downwards yet the owners want nothing to change is clearly going to continue to hurt the game, just as it has been.

So yes, the demands by both sides are hurting the game.

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21 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

As far as I'm concerned, this is semantics.  Changes or not, the status quo is bad for the game, which ultimately appears to be your point about the players.  

You're trying to have it both ways.  The players are hurting the game with what they want, but the owners wanting things to stay the same isn't bad for the game.  The fact that the game is trending downwards yet the owners want nothing to change is clearly going to continue to hurt the game, just as it has been.

So yes, the demands by both sides are hurting the game.

There are three things being negotiated that will have any impact on the game.  The universal DH and expanded playoffs would have an impact and both parties want them regardless of negotiating position.  The owners have also proposed a draft lottery which I doubt will have much impact but it's a net gain.

Most of the things causing the downward trend are not part of this negotiation which is why I keep trying to focus this discussion the conditions actually being negotiated.  Other than the issues above, none of the issues causing this downward trajectory you keep talking about are part of the negotiations.  At least not directly.  Competitive parity is being talked about by the players but they are talking out both sides of their mouth.  The three things they are demanding are bad for the game and that's not going to change because the popular position is to ignore their demands with expand competitive disparity.  The say they are concerned about parity but the three demands they are stuck on are unquestionably bad for the game.  Once again, nobody here is willing to acknowledge this reality.  Just more posts talking around the specific influence of their demands with general comments instead of addressing each of the demands and the impact they would have on the game.

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25 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

There are three things being negotiated that will have any impact on the game.  The universal DH and expanded playoffs would have an impact and both parties want them regardless of negotiating position.  The owners have also proposed a draft lottery which I doubt will have much impact but it's a net gain.

Most of the things causing the downward trend are not part of this negotiation which is why I keep trying to focus this discussion the conditions actually being negotiated.  Other than the issues above, none of the issues causing this downward trajectory you keep talking about are part of the negotiations.  At least not directly.  Competitive parity is being talked about by the players but they are talking out both sides of their mouth.  The three things they are demanding are bad for the game and that's not going to change because the popular position is to ignore their demands with expand competitive disparity.  The say they are concerned about parity but the three demands they are stuck on are unquestionably bad for the game.  Once again, nobody here is willing to acknowledge this reality.  Just more posts talking around the specific influence of their demands with general comments instead of addressing each of the demands and the impact they would have on the game.

The economics of the game are very much part of this negotiation and that's solely on the owners whether they're talking about it or not.  They don't want anything to change.  You're going to have a very hard time convincing me that that doesn't hurt the game.  To say that they have no part in hurting the game is either disingenuous or flat out naive.  The players have very little, if any, control on that aspect of the game.

I've said my piece.  I have little interest in continuing this discussion at this point.

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19 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

You conveniently left out most of my quote. 

All men are immortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore Socrates is immortal.

By coincidence, I was talking to Socrates, just the other day.  He said to watch out for false premises.  Doesn't matter whether the rest of the logic is sound or not; the conclusion can be ignored.

When you say we're in danger of missing the opening of the season because of the players, in a situation that's manifestly a lockout, none of the rest bears close examination.   When you suggest the players are uniquely fortunate, it's an omission and half-truth that likewise invalidates the argument.  It's not worth going through point by point.

"Look what YOU made me do."  That's the mating call of the abusive partner.  The owners had the choice whether to initiate a lockout or not.

Are-We-The-Baddies-758x426.jpg&f=1&nofb=

You're in too deep and it's probably too late in your career to reexamine your own allegiances, but your biases can be called out whenever they affect the discussion.

 

 

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To me the only way to get a decent deal at this time is to not sign any deal or make progress until March 1.  At that point the owners will be looking at expenses with no revenue.  That may be the only way for the players to get a fair deal.  Also remove Boris clients from the negotiating committee.  They are heavily weighted to the top players and do not have the average player in mind.

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16 hours ago, beckmt said:

To me the only way to get a decent deal at this time is to not sign any deal or make progress until March 1.  At that point the owners will be looking at expenses with no revenue.  That may be the only way for the players to get a fair deal.  Also remove Boris clients from the negotiating committee.  They are heavily weighted to the top players and do not have the average player in mind.

Both sides will be staring at financial loss.  As I see it, the owners are not budging on the number of years of control and revenue sharing because they know it would be very bad for the game.  The age based concession on control is more than I expected.  I like it because it helps the middle or even bottom tier free agents.  If the players don't change their demands we are going to have a short season or no season at all. 

The CBT level is also a problem.  There are only a few teams willing to spend at this level now.  Raising it to the degree demand by the union would add to the already substantial advantage held by a handful of teams.  The other owners are not going to extend that advantage.  I spent most of my professional life negotiating contracts.  Standing hard on terms and conditions the other party is surely not going to accept is idiotic.  The other side walks away when that's an option.  Given it's not an option here the result is likely no baseball until those demands change.

Am I right in assuming the league could bring in replacement players?  Obviously revenue would be way down but team expenses would also go down by $100M+ on average.  

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4 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

Both sides will be staring at financial loss.  As I see it, the owners are not budging on the number of years of control and revenue sharing because they know it would be very bad for the game.  The age based concession on control is more than I expected.  I like it because it helps the middle or even bottom tier free agents.  If the players don't change their demands we are going to have a short season or no season at all. 

The CBT level is also a problem.  There are only a few teams willing to spend at this level now.  Raising it to the degree demand by the union would add to the already substantial advantage held by a handful of teams.  The other owners are not going to extend that advantage.  I spent most of my professional life negotiating contracts.  Standing hard on terms and conditions the other party is surely not going to accept is idiotic.  The other side walks away when that's an option.  Given it's not an option here the result is likely no baseball until those demands change.

Am I right in assuming the league could bring in replacement players?  Obviously revenue would be way down but team expenses would also go down by $100M+ on average.  

Players need to get a salary floor, that is the easy fix.  No way are the owners going to give a hard cap.  Lower control will only hurt the lower revenue teams.  Then you might as well go back to 16 - 20 teams with a $120 million floor and a $250 cap.  too many lower teams do not spend anywhere close to $100 million.  

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44 minutes ago, beckmt said:

Players need to get a salary floor, that is the easy fix.  No way are the owners going to give a hard cap.  Lower control will only hurt the lower revenue teams.  Then you might as well go back to 16 - 20 teams with a $120 million floor and a $250 cap.  too many lower teams do not spend anywhere close to $100 million.  

Did you mean to say the players would never go for a hard cap?  I would think all of the teams outside the top half dozen would like a hard cap.  The players have been stringently against any form of capping the amount paid in salary.   I think a hard cap would be great but the players would scream bloody murder.

What would an easy fix for a salary floor look like?  Would it be a hard floor or a soft floor? It would have to account the significant swings in revenue when a team is competitive vs not so competitive.  It would also need to address the significant revenue differential between the lowest revenue teams receiving revenue sharing and highest revenue teams receiving revenue sharing.  In other words, a set amount would not work.  Any system would need to address the variability between season and relative team revenue.

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30 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

Did you mean to say the players would never go for a hard cap?  I would think all of the teams outside the top half dozen would like a hard cap.  The players have been stringently against any form of capping the amount paid in salary.   I think a hard cap would be great but the players would scream bloody murder.

What would an easy fix for a salary floor look like?  Would it be a hard floor or a soft floor? It would have to account the significant swings in revenue when a team is competitive vs not so competitive.  It would also need to address the significant revenue differential between the lowest revenue teams receiving revenue sharing and highest revenue teams receiving revenue sharing.  In other words, a set amount would not work.  Any system would need to address the variability between season and relative team revenue.

Top teams would not like their spending capped as would the top players, that is why football has parity.  The floor would end tanking by forcing teams spending $50 - $60 million to raise they spending.  Revenue sharing would be great, but not going to happen.  Most of the suggestions I have seen would hurt the bottom teams,  so hoping we can see movement soon.

As I wrote, don't see the owners moving until they are looking at lost revenue.  All that is happening now, is that you are hurting the younger teams who need player development time, with their places on the 40 man roster.

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4 hours ago, beckmt said:

Top teams would not like their spending capped as would the top players, that is why football has parity.  The floor would end tanking by forcing teams spending $50 - $60 million to raise they spending.  Revenue sharing would be great, but not going to happen.  Most of the suggestions I have seen would hurt the bottom teams,  so hoping we can see movement soon.

As I wrote, don't see the owners moving until they are looking at lost revenue.  All that is happening now, is that you are hurting the younger teams who need player development time, with their places on the 40 man roster.

I see the potential for a few problems with a floor which is why I don't see an easy fix.  They would have to find a way to prevent teams from just taking on bad contracts and I don't see a way to get that done.  Teams would still be bad but now the top revenue teams can dump bad contracts.  Anything is possible but I have not come up with a way to prevent it.  The odd truth is that the rate of failure of these big contracts that are 100% or nearly 100% guaranteed has moderated the advantage of top revenue teams.  Providing a way out would probably further the competitive imbalance.

Then, we have the problem of revenue variance between teams receiving revenue sharing.  If the amount is the same for all teams, it we be very unfair to the teams at the very bottom in terms of revenue.   

We also have to need to assess will this actually be beneficial.  If the only goal would be to get them to spend more money.  That goal would definitely be met.  Would it be effective or counterproductive in terms of small ,market teams building a true contender.  The proven path for those teams has been to trade their top players when going into a rebuild in order to bring in new talent.  For example, when the Royals trade Grienke they received Cane and Escobar who were pivotal in their playoff run.  The White Sox trade Sale and Eaton which got them Moncada / Kopech / Gioliti / Dunning.  Are we going to retard these teams ability to build a contender for the sake a making them a little better (maybe) while they are rebuilding?  

I favor a system that would distribute revenue sharing based on payroll spending.  That eliminates the potential problem listed above,  It would also provide more funding to low revenue team when they are in a competitive window and willing to spend.  This would close the gap (slightly) between top and bottom spending.

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15 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

I see the potential for a few problems with a floor which is why I don't see an easy fix.  They would have to find a way to prevent teams from just taking on bad contracts and I don't see a way to get that done.  Teams would still be bad but now the top revenue teams can dump bad contracts.  Anything is possible but I have not come up with a way to prevent it.  The odd truth is that the rate of failure of these big contracts that are 100% or nearly 100% guaranteed has moderated the advantage of top revenue teams.  Providing a way out would probably further the competitive imbalance.

Then, we have the problem of revenue variance between teams receiving revenue sharing.  If the amount is the same for all teams, it we be very unfair to the teams at the very bottom in terms of revenue.   

We also have to need to assess will this actually be beneficial.  If the only goal would be to get them to spend more money.  That goal would definitely be met.  Would it be effective or counterproductive in terms of small ,market teams building a true contender.  The proven path for those teams has been to trade their top players when going into a rebuild in order to bring in new talent.  For example, when the Royals trade Grienke they received Cane and Escobar who were pivotal in their playoff run.  The White Sox trade Sale and Eaton which got them Moncada / Kopech / Gioliti / Dunning.  Are we going to retard these teams ability to build a contender for the sake a making them a little better (maybe) while they are rebuilding?  

I favor a system that would distribute revenue sharing based on payroll spending.  That eliminates the potential problem listed above,  It would also provide more funding to low revenue team when they are in a competitive window and willing to spend.  This would close the gap (slightly) between top and bottom spending.

For the few good trades you have mentioned, there are several bad ones.  The Pirates got very little for Cole.  The Marlins made several bad deals, a lot of them to the Yankees, as payroll dumps.  The big market teams being able to take on payroll, have a big edge in these non baseball revenue trades.  Until you fix that you will not come close to parity,

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