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  1. Right now Major League Baseball may be as low as it’s ever been. Back during the 1994 and 1995 strike I was just five years old, way too young to be bothered by what was taking place. At this point in my life, it’s anything but. After Rob Manfred’s address yesterday I could produce nothing more than apathy. The Minnesota Twins have long been my favorite team. Major League Baseball has been among my most invested interests for the majority of my life. Because of just thirty owners and their puppet, Opening Day is cancelled with no end in sight. As Manfred stepped up to the podium, made that announcement while laughing, and then suggesting it was a both sides issue (hint: it’s not) emptiness set in. Manfred has done very little to distance himself from the notion that he’s an awful commissioner. Obviously, he’s in a position to represent the interests of the owners, but each opportunity for him to provide a galvanizing rallying cry or momentum, he chomps on his own foot. Manfred comes across like a sleazy businessman with little desire to actually enjoy the sport he oversees. There isn’t a jovial attitude and there’s certainly nothing redeeming about him in connecting with the fans. For months those connected to the league have attempted spewing a stance that players are needed to move things forward. Despite delays, lack of negotiating, and bad faith bargaining, it’s consistently been a blame game from the league with the only intention being the greatest win. Instead, we the fans, now all lose. Opening Day is supposed to be a highlight of Spring. We get through the final days of winter with baseball action in Arizona or Florida. It’s the eight month calendar that creates drama on a daily basis through the lens of a wonderful sport. Not only do we not have that calendar to look forward to at this point, but we also have no clue when Rob Manfred and the league will work towards getting things back on track. I’ll rebound from this; it’s necessary for the union to remain steadfast for change. Baseball will return, maybe in June, or maybe next year, but it will return. I’ll continue to write and enjoy the sport from afar. Right now though, it all feels a bit empty and hollow with one man and one group so carelessly and ruthlessly denying us normalcy on the diamond. Most times it’s hard not to be romantic about baseball, but right now is not most times. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. This week could be argued as the most significant of the entire Major League Baseball offseason. It’s the first in which the owners and union have committed to interacting every day. Unfortunately, it’s produced a whole lot of nothing. A contingent for both the owners and players arrived at Roger Dean Stadium in Florida on Monday. The respective sides have spent time meeting both separately and together. A handful of notes have been cycled through the days that have come and gone. Most notably, we’ve seen the players continuing to move ever so slightly on their already negotiated proposals. The league has done little to counter and close the gap, but there has been no movement on the suggestion that February 28 is a hard deadline for Opening Day to go as planned. The league has suggested that any games missed will not result in rescheduling and that players will simply lose pay with the schedule picking up where it left off. Before spending 42 days with no action, Rob Manfred penned a letter to fans saying the lockout he instituted was designed to jumpstart negotiations and was done with the utmost desire to protect the integrity of the schedule. As we sit not, that letter doesn’t look good (to be fair, it didn’t then either). After being let go from MLB Network due to minor criticisms of Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has continued to produce excellent writing. This week he took the kid gloves off, put out a framework for a deal, and called the league out for the lunacy that is taking place. Further tilting the scales towards the already known realities, financials for the Atlanta Braves ownership group were released today. Despite Rob Manfred suggesting owning a team is not all that profitable and the stock market producing better returns, every bit of data continues to laugh at that idea. There’s no denying the owners will come out ahead in any CBA, and they probably should, but clawing for every dollar in an effort to win over the players have only the consumers losing. Although the next two days are non-business days, it would benefit both sides to continue with their discussions. Monday’s deadline looms large, and while the only real leverage the players have is lost games, fans watch as a season hangs in the balance. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. A contingent for both the owners and players arrived at Roger Dean Stadium in Florida on Monday. The respective sides have spent time meeting both separately and together. A handful of notes have been cycled through the days that have come and gone. Most notably, we’ve seen the players continuing to move ever so slightly on their already negotiated proposals. The league has done little to counter and close the gap, but there has been no movement on the suggestion that February 28 is a hard deadline for Opening Day to go as planned. The league has suggested that any games missed will not result in rescheduling and that players will simply lose pay with the schedule picking up where it left off. Before spending 42 days with no action, Rob Manfred penned a letter to fans saying the lockout he instituted was designed to jumpstart negotiations and was done with the utmost desire to protect the integrity of the schedule. As we sit not, that letter doesn’t look good (to be fair, it didn’t then either). After being let go from MLB Network due to minor criticisms of Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has continued to produce excellent writing. This week he took the kid gloves off, put out a framework for a deal, and called the league out for the lunacy that is taking place. Further tilting the scales towards the already known realities, financials for the Atlanta Braves ownership group were released today. Despite Rob Manfred suggesting owning a team is not all that profitable and the stock market producing better returns, every bit of data continues to laugh at that idea. There’s no denying the owners will come out ahead in any CBA, and they probably should, but clawing for every dollar in an effort to win over the players have only the consumers losing. Although the next two days are non-business days, it would benefit both sides to continue with their discussions. Monday’s deadline looms large, and while the only real leverage the players have is lost games, fans watch as a season hangs in the balance. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Last week’s CBA update was largely contingent on what happened the day after it was published. Major League Baseball made an offer on Saturday, February 12, that Rob Manfred called “good.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t. The owners proposal at the end of last week was largely unchanged from where they’ve been thus far. Minimal movement was proposed on both the minimum salary front and the competitive balance tax. Regarding the minimum salary, players are looking for a $775k minimum. Owners moved just $15k to $615k in their most recent offer. They also proposed a $630k minimum that would remain flat for players pre-arbitration. Teams can still pay more if they choose, but this is an odd inclusion as many players never reach a second year. On the competitive balance tax front, the owners moved less than $4 million in any given season. This is a highly contentious issue for the players because owners use the luxury tax as a soft salary cap. Very few teams spend over it and even more spend right up next to it. The luxury tax has not kept up with the revenue increase, and players continue to see less return on their production to the owners bottom line. That led us to Thursday when the union made their next counter-proposal. It was just five days after the league’s latest offer and substantially quicker than the 42 days and 30 days the owners took between proposals. In the latest proposal from the union, they dropped the amount of super-2 players getting arbitration from 100% to 80%. In doing so, however, they asked for that pool of funds to be increased. While having fewer players to pay, the stance is that it makes sense for there to be more money to go around. A couple of developments have circulated since yesterday’s 19-minute meeting. First, an unfair labor practice charge was filed against MLB by someone. The union or any player did not file it, likely a fan. It won’t go anywhere. The league also presented a calendar, or timeline, as to when the CBA needs to be agreed to for the season to start on time. It’s unclear whether the union agrees with the timeline, but February 28 is the day to remember here. The players are beginning to use some of their leverage and have told the league not to expect expanded playoffs this season if the year doesn’t start on time. Players are unpaid for Spring Training and the Postseason, while owners make the most money after the regular season concludes. Both sides are expected to meet in New York near-daily next week. Owners and players are flying in with the goal of hammering out an agreement. We’ll see what the substance of the talks looks like as the days go by. MLB did release a statement announcing the postponement of Spring Training. It was always inevitable but is now official. With the postponement of Spring Training, the Minnesota Gophers announced the cancellation of their exhibition against the Twins on February 25. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  5. The owners proposal at the end of last week was largely unchanged from where they’ve been thus far. Minimal movement was proposed on both the minimum salary front and the competitive balance tax. Regarding the minimum salary, players are looking for a $775k minimum. Owners moved just $15k to $615k in their most recent offer. They also proposed a $630k minimum that would remain flat for players pre-arbitration. Teams can still pay more if they choose, but this is an odd inclusion as many players never reach a second year. On the competitive balance tax front, the owners moved less than $4 million in any given season. This is a highly contentious issue for the players because owners use the luxury tax as a soft salary cap. Very few teams spend over it and even more spend right up next to it. The luxury tax has not kept up with the revenue increase, and players continue to see less return on their production to the owners bottom line. That led us to Thursday when the union made their next counter-proposal. It was just five days after the league’s latest offer and substantially quicker than the 42 days and 30 days the owners took between proposals. In the latest proposal from the union, they dropped the amount of super-2 players getting arbitration from 100% to 80%. In doing so, however, they asked for that pool of funds to be increased. While having fewer players to pay, the stance is that it makes sense for there to be more money to go around. A couple of developments have circulated since yesterday’s 19-minute meeting. First, an unfair labor practice charge was filed against MLB by someone. The union or any player did not file it, likely a fan. It won’t go anywhere. The league also presented a calendar, or timeline, as to when the CBA needs to be agreed to for the season to start on time. It’s unclear whether the union agrees with the timeline, but February 28 is the day to remember here. The players are beginning to use some of their leverage and have told the league not to expect expanded playoffs this season if the year doesn’t start on time. Players are unpaid for Spring Training and the Postseason, while owners make the most money after the regular season concludes. Both sides are expected to meet in New York near-daily next week. Owners and players are flying in with the goal of hammering out an agreement. We’ll see what the substance of the talks looks like as the days go by. MLB did release a statement announcing the postponement of Spring Training. It was always inevitable but is now official. With the postponement of Spring Training, the Minnesota Gophers announced the cancellation of their exhibition against the Twins on February 25. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. It’s not necessarily what has happened this week that makes it the most pivotal for CBA negotiations, but it is what’s to come. Rob Manfred hosted a joke of a press conference but revealed the owners would make another proposal on Saturday. From there, we’ll know how close we are to having baseball. The owners spent the week in sunny Orlando, Florida, meeting over the course of a few days. After failing to offer a proposal to the union and requesting the help of a federal mediator last week, it seems they have hammered out the framework of a new deal. It was never anything more than a hollow PR ploy when Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball asked for the assistance of a federal mediator. The owners went back on their decision to make a proposal to the union, and it’s also been their side that has failed to do much in the form of negotiating at all. Labor secretary Marty Walsh did have recent conversations with both sides, however, and hopefully, the plan here is less about Manfred and the owners trying to “win” than it is working towards a mutually beneficial resolution. Like the owners, the players met in Arizona with Tony Clark and Dan Halem this week. Gerrit Cole tweeted out a similar sentiment to the ones we have seen on social media in recent weeks. The players are unified in their goals, and while they’ll bend and make certain concessions, it’s apparent they are focused on establishing the future of the game. During Manfred’s press conference Thursday, the most preposterous statement was one that indicated owning a Major League Baseball team isn’t all that profitable. It’s a bald-faced lie, but one that Manfred has a platform to spew, and with hopes it’s believed by many. He concluded by suggesting that the owners would put forth a new proposal on Saturday and that “it’s a good one.” We’ll have to wait for that to be determined. In the interim, we have some new agreed-upon rules for the future. The universal DH is now here to stay. That means Joe Ryan is the last Twins pitcher to ever take an at-bat, and Kenta Maeda is the last to record a hit. We also have a draft pick lottery system and, maybe most importantly, the removal of draft pick compensation tied to players that turn down the qualifying offer. Understandably it’s the designated hitter change that has received headlines, but it’s the elimination of draft pick compensation that Minnesota should be most excited about. Not having to worry about losing an important pick to sign a top free agent should bring the playing field to a more level place. Again, this week was all about the talk, and everything hinges on what we find out Saturday. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. The owners spent the week in sunny Orlando, Florida, meeting over the course of a few days. After failing to offer a proposal to the union and requesting the help of a federal mediator last week, it seems they have hammered out the framework of a new deal. It was never anything more than a hollow PR ploy when Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball asked for the assistance of a federal mediator. The owners went back on their decision to make a proposal to the union, and it’s also been their side that has failed to do much in the form of negotiating at all. Labor secretary Marty Walsh did have recent conversations with both sides, however, and hopefully, the plan here is less about Manfred and the owners trying to “win” than it is working towards a mutually beneficial resolution. Like the owners, the players met in Arizona with Tony Clark and Dan Halem this week. Gerrit Cole tweeted out a similar sentiment to the ones we have seen on social media in recent weeks. The players are unified in their goals, and while they’ll bend and make certain concessions, it’s apparent they are focused on establishing the future of the game. During Manfred’s press conference Thursday, the most preposterous statement was one that indicated owning a Major League Baseball team isn’t all that profitable. It’s a bald-faced lie, but one that Manfred has a platform to spew, and with hopes it’s believed by many. He concluded by suggesting that the owners would put forth a new proposal on Saturday and that “it’s a good one.” We’ll have to wait for that to be determined. In the interim, we have some new agreed-upon rules for the future. The universal DH is now here to stay. That means Joe Ryan is the last Twins pitcher to ever take an at-bat, and Kenta Maeda is the last to record a hit. We also have a draft pick lottery system and, maybe most importantly, the removal of draft pick compensation tied to players that turn down the qualifying offer. Understandably it’s the designated hitter change that has received headlines, but it’s the elimination of draft pick compensation that Minnesota should be most excited about. Not having to worry about losing an important pick to sign a top free agent should bring the playing field to a more level place. Again, this week was all about the talk, and everything hinges on what we find out Saturday. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Tear another week off the calendar, and we might be further from baseball than we were a week ago. Major League Baseball and the Players Union met earlier this week. Talks got heated, the meeting lasted about 90 minutes, and things have gone off the rails since. If you recalled from the update last week, it’s the Union that has made significant concessions. They also bent more this week after dropping their free agency timeline and revenue sharing requests. The discussions surrounding service time manipulation were shelved, and the pre-arbitration bonus pool also saw a $5 million decrease. Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes shared that the Union has started distributing funds to players. Those funds have been held over time to pay players through a work stoppage. While some of baseball’s best are compensated handsomely, many are at the league minimum. Also of note here, if and when games are ultimately lost, stadium workers for Spring Training and in regular-season homes will be unfairly impacted. Baseball Prospectus Editor in Chief Craig Goldstein brought up a relevant point on Tuesday. With new TV money being shelled out to organizations, there’s no team in the sport that won’t come into 2022 handsomely. Despite economic impacts from the Covid shortened 2020 season, the reality has always been that revenues were decreased, but no one went in the red. Owners are making money at a rate higher than anything the stock market can produce, and the players are looking to simply be in line with the inflation rate. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman, who works for MLB Network (obviously owned by Major League Baseball), suggested the league would restart talks at the end of the week or early next week. Something like 24 hours later, Jeff Passan dropped the bomb that Major League Baseball requested the help of a federal mediator. This comes on the heels of MLB, as reported by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, telling the Union it won’t make a counter proposal after previously saying they would. There’s a lot to unpack in the past 24 hours, but it boils down to this. The move for federal mediation is nothing more than a public relations move to make it appear as though the owners are struggling to negotiate with the Union. With the league deciding it won’t offer a counter-proposal, the owners have effectively said they want the players to negotiate against their most recent proposal, and the league is stepping away from the bargaining table. It’s hard to look at the state of things and suggest that MLB has negotiated in good faith during any point of this process. They took over 40 days to resume talks following the lockout, have made next to no concessions, and are looking to win a game of public relations chess rather than actively working towards resumption. Pitchers and catchers are supposed to report in two weeks. That’s not going to happen. Spring Training will be delayed; there’s no denying it at this point. It’s looking likely that Major League Baseball will lose games this season. This is the worst possible outcome on the heels of a pandemic-influenced season just two years ago. Rob Manfred’s leadership is in question, and as baseball fans, we all lose. Growing the sport isn’t going to be accomplished through rule changes, and this is the scenario that tears it down the most. Here are a few players to drop the mic on this. The Union has also now formally rejected the proposal for federal mediation. In this circumstance it does little to help the discussions and Major League Baseball actively bargaining would be a better step forward. View full article
  9. If you recalled from the update last week, it’s the Union that has made significant concessions. They also bent more this week after dropping their free agency timeline and revenue sharing requests. The discussions surrounding service time manipulation were shelved, and the pre-arbitration bonus pool also saw a $5 million decrease. Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes shared that the Union has started distributing funds to players. Those funds have been held over time to pay players through a work stoppage. While some of baseball’s best are compensated handsomely, many are at the league minimum. Also of note here, if and when games are ultimately lost, stadium workers for Spring Training and in regular-season homes will be unfairly impacted. Baseball Prospectus Editor in Chief Craig Goldstein brought up a relevant point on Tuesday. With new TV money being shelled out to organizations, there’s no team in the sport that won’t come into 2022 handsomely. Despite economic impacts from the Covid shortened 2020 season, the reality has always been that revenues were decreased, but no one went in the red. Owners are making money at a rate higher than anything the stock market can produce, and the players are looking to simply be in line with the inflation rate. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman, who works for MLB Network (obviously owned by Major League Baseball), suggested the league would restart talks at the end of the week or early next week. Something like 24 hours later, Jeff Passan dropped the bomb that Major League Baseball requested the help of a federal mediator. This comes on the heels of MLB, as reported by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, telling the Union it won’t make a counter proposal after previously saying they would. There’s a lot to unpack in the past 24 hours, but it boils down to this. The move for federal mediation is nothing more than a public relations move to make it appear as though the owners are struggling to negotiate with the Union. With the league deciding it won’t offer a counter-proposal, the owners have effectively said they want the players to negotiate against their most recent proposal, and the league is stepping away from the bargaining table. It’s hard to look at the state of things and suggest that MLB has negotiated in good faith during any point of this process. They took over 40 days to resume talks following the lockout, have made next to no concessions, and are looking to win a game of public relations chess rather than actively working towards resumption. Pitchers and catchers are supposed to report in two weeks. That’s not going to happen. Spring Training will be delayed; there’s no denying it at this point. It’s looking likely that Major League Baseball will lose games this season. This is the worst possible outcome on the heels of a pandemic-influenced season just two years ago. Rob Manfred’s leadership is in question, and as baseball fans, we all lose. Growing the sport isn’t going to be accomplished through rule changes, and this is the scenario that tears it down the most. Here are a few players to drop the mic on this. The Union has also now formally rejected the proposal for federal mediation. In this circumstance it does little to help the discussions and Major League Baseball actively bargaining would be a better step forward.
  10. Major League Baseball locked out its players on December 2nd. Since then, we have had virtually no baseball news and very little progress regarding the resumption of activity. Before that, though, there was madness. Eventually, we’ll get that madness again, but is it enough? If you’ve followed Major League Baseball for any period, you’re well aware that things get done within the funnel of time constraints. The trade deadline is when players get moved, like the day of, not weeks before. Free-agent signings happen during the Winter Meetings or as Spring Training begins. Even with this lockout, the owners went 40-plus days while offering nothing, and the only reason wheels are creaking is because games (exhibition at this point, but still) are threatened to be lost. That’s why the point at which teams raced to spend dollars and acquire talent before December 1st was amazing. Baseball fans were treated to utter madness. Clubs spent over $1 billion in contracts, and big-name stars were headed all over the baseball landscape. It was a breakneck pace, and the only question was whether Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, or Jeff Passan would send the tweets out first. In something truly unparalleled for baseball fans, there was a free agent frenzy. If there’s a silver lining to this current lockout, it’s that we should get it again. Another acquisition frenzy has to be coming, and it will be time influenced once again. Whether regular-season games are lost or not, the reality is pitchers and catchers were originally intended to report within two weeks. We’re about two months from Opening Day, and ramp-up time is needed on top of relocation and adjustment periods. Add in the fact that there are hundreds of players still waiting to see which team they’ll get deals from in 2022, and it’s going to be crazy. For Minnesota specifically, the rotation remains bare, a shortstop is not currently on the roster, and there’s something like $50 million to be handed out. Assuming the Twins go the trade route, they’ll need to make those intentions known quickly and follow up on any conversations they were having pre-lockout. The 40-man roster has room to improve, and the 26-man isn’t constructed in a manner that would be competitive per the suggestion from the front office. So yes, again, time and the calendar suggest this will happen. The question is will it matter? You, the reader here at Twins Daily, will probably care. You’re invested enough to be reading about your favorite team, and interest remains during the offseason or through a lockout. For the casual fan, the league might have lost. Rather than capitalizing on the opportunity and momentum from early December, they’ll now be competing with an NBA season at its peak, an NHL season coming full circle, and trying to distance from an NFL postseason that has truly stolen the show. While the offseason certainly isn’t for everyone, a complete shutdown as instituted by Rob Manfred isn’t going to make the league any more relevant. I don’t know how baseball will handle free agency in the future, but it’s clear that turning it into an event like its competition makes things exciting. We experienced that in December and will again soon, but in terms of growing the sport and wanting those on the fringes to come back, this probably isn’t going to move the needle. View full article
  11. If you’ve followed Major League Baseball for any period, you’re well aware that things get done within the funnel of time constraints. The trade deadline is when players get moved, like the day of, not weeks before. Free-agent signings happen during the Winter Meetings or as Spring Training begins. Even with this lockout, the owners went 40-plus days while offering nothing, and the only reason wheels are creaking is because games (exhibition at this point, but still) are threatened to be lost. That’s why the point at which teams raced to spend dollars and acquire talent before December 1st was amazing. Baseball fans were treated to utter madness. Clubs spent over $1 billion in contracts, and big-name stars were headed all over the baseball landscape. It was a breakneck pace, and the only question was whether Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, or Jeff Passan would send the tweets out first. In something truly unparalleled for baseball fans, there was a free agent frenzy. If there’s a silver lining to this current lockout, it’s that we should get it again. Another acquisition frenzy has to be coming, and it will be time influenced once again. Whether regular-season games are lost or not, the reality is pitchers and catchers were originally intended to report within two weeks. We’re about two months from Opening Day, and ramp-up time is needed on top of relocation and adjustment periods. Add in the fact that there are hundreds of players still waiting to see which team they’ll get deals from in 2022, and it’s going to be crazy. For Minnesota specifically, the rotation remains bare, a shortstop is not currently on the roster, and there’s something like $50 million to be handed out. Assuming the Twins go the trade route, they’ll need to make those intentions known quickly and follow up on any conversations they were having pre-lockout. The 40-man roster has room to improve, and the 26-man isn’t constructed in a manner that would be competitive per the suggestion from the front office. So yes, again, time and the calendar suggest this will happen. The question is will it matter? You, the reader here at Twins Daily, will probably care. You’re invested enough to be reading about your favorite team, and interest remains during the offseason or through a lockout. For the casual fan, the league might have lost. Rather than capitalizing on the opportunity and momentum from early December, they’ll now be competing with an NBA season at its peak, an NHL season coming full circle, and trying to distance from an NFL postseason that has truly stolen the show. While the offseason certainly isn’t for everyone, a complete shutdown as instituted by Rob Manfred isn’t going to make the league any more relevant. I don’t know how baseball will handle free agency in the future, but it’s clear that turning it into an event like its competition makes things exciting. We experienced that in December and will again soon, but in terms of growing the sport and wanting those on the fringes to come back, this probably isn’t going to move the needle.
  12. Another week of progress, and we’re ending January on a better note than we entered it. Major League Baseball met twice with the union this week, and while the results may not have been substantial, at least they’re going through the motions. After meeting for less than 10 minutes before locking out the players back in December and then spending more than 40 days before issuing a proposal, it’s noteworthy that the league engaged the union on consecutive days this week. The meeting results aren’t exactly heartwarming, but there’s a blueprint towards a path forward. The most drastic change in negotiations the past week came from the players' side. Wanting to reach free agency sooner, they desired to shorten team control. During Monday’s meeting with the league, the union removed their request for an age-based free agency system. This signaled a substantial concession on their side and should be used as a powerful bargaining chip when discussing the idea of give and take during future topics. Unfortunately, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem said the league was “willing to lose games over outstanding issues” in the same meeting. Britt Ghiroli, who was previously featured here at Twins Daily in a “Women in Baseball” piece, wrote a great article on the state of the lockout. A takeaway for me was this comment, “Whether this painfully slow sparring between baseball and its players is necessary isn’t the question. It’s why those with the longest-term investment in the game are seemingly unconcerned with prioritizing the quality of the product, treating fans like a steady constant instead of something that the sport has to sustain, grow and develop to stay viable.” Former General Manager Jim Bowden made a point to contend that the players' concession was a large one, and the league needed to follow suit. Unfortunately, when the two sides met a second day, Major League Baseball did little to uphold their side on Tuesday. Jeff Passan outlined the changes, and while the league agreed on salary raises and pre-arbitration bonus pools, the extent they’re willing to go was laughable at best. In a piece from The Score’s Travis Sawchik, we see how far baseball lags regarding the minimum salary. The bump of $15k is so negligible that it fails to keep up with the inflation rate from the time it was last adjusted. The focal economics point from the union side has been in helping young players get paid. The reality is that very few major leaguers make significant sums of money, and a career can be incredibly short. Searching for an avenue that immediately and adequately compensates talent is important. As of right now, it’s not something the league is too concerned about. From an ownership standpoint, slight raises to the minimum should be considered inconsequential, but remaining tight on the issue is as shortsighted as the unwillingness to compensate minor leaguers fairly. One quote from Monday’s meetings grabbed headlines and came from Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort. His franchise has largely been a dumpster fire of financial peril for quite some time. He poured gasoline on the situation, complaining some owners have trouble affording their teams and the additional costs Covid-19 has created. In short, a billionaire wants us to feel sorry for the lack of egregious revenues regarding something only one-percenters will ever experience. As you can expect, it wasn’t received positively. Let’s dig in for another week of this charade. Pitchers and catchers are supposed to report for Spring Training just over two weeks from now. View full article
  13. After meeting for less than 10 minutes before locking out the players back in December and then spending more than 40 days before issuing a proposal, it’s noteworthy that the league engaged the union on consecutive days this week. The meeting results aren’t exactly heartwarming, but there’s a blueprint towards a path forward. The most drastic change in negotiations the past week came from the players' side. Wanting to reach free agency sooner, they desired to shorten team control. During Monday’s meeting with the league, the union removed their request for an age-based free agency system. This signaled a substantial concession on their side and should be used as a powerful bargaining chip when discussing the idea of give and take during future topics. Unfortunately, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem said the league was “willing to lose games over outstanding issues” in the same meeting. Britt Ghiroli, who was previously featured here at Twins Daily in a “Women in Baseball” piece, wrote a great article on the state of the lockout. A takeaway for me was this comment, “Whether this painfully slow sparring between baseball and its players is necessary isn’t the question. It’s why those with the longest-term investment in the game are seemingly unconcerned with prioritizing the quality of the product, treating fans like a steady constant instead of something that the sport has to sustain, grow and develop to stay viable.” Former General Manager Jim Bowden made a point to contend that the players' concession was a large one, and the league needed to follow suit. Unfortunately, when the two sides met a second day, Major League Baseball did little to uphold their side on Tuesday. Jeff Passan outlined the changes, and while the league agreed on salary raises and pre-arbitration bonus pools, the extent they’re willing to go was laughable at best. In a piece from The Score’s Travis Sawchik, we see how far baseball lags regarding the minimum salary. The bump of $15k is so negligible that it fails to keep up with the inflation rate from the time it was last adjusted. The focal economics point from the union side has been in helping young players get paid. The reality is that very few major leaguers make significant sums of money, and a career can be incredibly short. Searching for an avenue that immediately and adequately compensates talent is important. As of right now, it’s not something the league is too concerned about. From an ownership standpoint, slight raises to the minimum should be considered inconsequential, but remaining tight on the issue is as shortsighted as the unwillingness to compensate minor leaguers fairly. One quote from Monday’s meetings grabbed headlines and came from Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort. His franchise has largely been a dumpster fire of financial peril for quite some time. He poured gasoline on the situation, complaining some owners have trouble affording their teams and the additional costs Covid-19 has created. In short, a billionaire wants us to feel sorry for the lack of egregious revenues regarding something only one-percenters will ever experience. As you can expect, it wasn’t received positively. Let’s dig in for another week of this charade. Pitchers and catchers are supposed to report for Spring Training just over two weeks from now.
  14. 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. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  15. 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. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  16. This space has been on pause the past few weeks because baseball has done absolutely nothing. This week that changed a bit, but I’m not sure it was for the better. We’re farther away from MLB’s return, and now worse off for it. Earlier this week one of the best reporters in the game, Ken Rosenthal, was let go from MLB Network. This stems from his criticism (and that should be used lightly) of overlord Rob Manfred. Major League Baseball’s commissioner is a steward of the owners, and while he actively seeks to line their pockets, he doesn’t need anyone on his airwaves sowing doubt about his leadership. Rosenthal is still employed by The Athletic (who was just recently acquired by the New York Times) and Fox. Seeing players rally in support of Rosenthal was a great thing as well. On Wednesday a piece was penned by ESPN’s Jeff Passan in relation to the state of baseball’s CBA issues. Some of the highlights, or maybe lowlights, don’t paint a pretty picture at all. We’re closer to Spring Training and yet the sides have not had a single meeting to suggest any sort of progress. A source was frank to Passan in simply stating, “What the (expletive) are we doing?” Passan talks about the decreasing optimism among those in the know that there will be a full season. The last discussion lasted just seven minutes, and we saw these two sides struggle mightily when it came to generating an agreement for 2020. Ultimately Manfred implemented a 60-game season, but that was due to the outlined agreements within the CBA rather than a compromise between both parties. As has been the case from the beginning most within the sport don’t see the sides coming together until later this month. With Spring Training being just weeks away at that point, you can all but guarantee time will be missed there. The problem, as Passan outlines, is that the issues surrounding the CBA are far more contentious than those discussed during the Covid-shortened 2020, and will need a much longer runway. There’s a way to work through them, but if Manfred’s letter to fans after locking out the players was any indication, he doesn’t appear willing to do so in good faith. This excerpt from Passan’s piece couldn’t be more spot on: While the players continue to be frustrated with ownership as spending dips and the Competitive Balance Tax is used as a soft cap, ownership wants no part of granting players free agency sooner or relinquishing control over cost effectiveness. A source told Passan, "The only thing that's gonna move either side is mutual assured destruction." The piece goes into an avenue where a CBA could take both sides, and while each needs to make concessions, the reality is that there’s a ton to work through. A deal not being close by February 1 would almost assuredly cancel Spring Training games. A handful of free agents still need to be signed, and a sport with many foreign players needs runway for Visas and travel arrangements to be made. Should things not be agreed to by May 1, we’re going to see the first substantial work stopped since the 1994-95 calendar. It’s on both sides to fix this, but make no mistake, this will be Rob Manfred’s legacy. Do you think we see Spring Training start on time? How about whether regular season games are missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  17. Earlier this week one of the best reporters in the game, Ken Rosenthal, was let go from MLB Network. This stems from his criticism (and that should be used lightly) of overlord Rob Manfred. Major League Baseball’s commissioner is a steward of the owners, and while he actively seeks to line their pockets, he doesn’t need anyone on his airwaves sowing doubt about his leadership. Rosenthal is still employed by The Athletic (who was just recently acquired by the New York Times) and Fox. Seeing players rally in support of Rosenthal was a great thing as well. On Wednesday a piece was penned by ESPN’s Jeff Passan in relation to the state of baseball’s CBA issues. Some of the highlights, or maybe lowlights, don’t paint a pretty picture at all. We’re closer to Spring Training and yet the sides have not had a single meeting to suggest any sort of progress. A source was frank to Passan in simply stating, “What the (expletive) are we doing?” Passan talks about the decreasing optimism among those in the know that there will be a full season. The last discussion lasted just seven minutes, and we saw these two sides struggle mightily when it came to generating an agreement for 2020. Ultimately Manfred implemented a 60-game season, but that was due to the outlined agreements within the CBA rather than a compromise between both parties. As has been the case from the beginning most within the sport don’t see the sides coming together until later this month. With Spring Training being just weeks away at that point, you can all but guarantee time will be missed there. The problem, as Passan outlines, is that the issues surrounding the CBA are far more contentious than those discussed during the Covid-shortened 2020, and will need a much longer runway. There’s a way to work through them, but if Manfred’s letter to fans after locking out the players was any indication, he doesn’t appear willing to do so in good faith. This excerpt from Passan’s piece couldn’t be more spot on: While the players continue to be frustrated with ownership as spending dips and the Competitive Balance Tax is used as a soft cap, ownership wants no part of granting players free agency sooner or relinquishing control over cost effectiveness. A source told Passan, "The only thing that's gonna move either side is mutual assured destruction." The piece goes into an avenue where a CBA could take both sides, and while each needs to make concessions, the reality is that there’s a ton to work through. A deal not being close by February 1 would almost assuredly cancel Spring Training games. A handful of free agents still need to be signed, and a sport with many foreign players needs runway for Visas and travel arrangements to be made. Should things not be agreed to by May 1, we’re going to see the first substantial work stopped since the 1994-95 calendar. It’s on both sides to fix this, but make no mistake, this will be Rob Manfred’s legacy. Do you think we see Spring Training start on time? How about whether regular season games are missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  18. It’s been a slow couple of weeks with Major League Baseball effectively shut down. A few minor league transactions have trickled in, and a handful of stories regarding guys signing overseas have accumulated, but the lockout has drawn things to a halt. Recent reports don’t suggest a reprieve soon. Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that while a handful of topics are to be discussed regarding a new CBA, core economic won’t be on the agenda until January. Since the lockout occurred on December 2nd, Major League Baseball appears comfortable taking their time; there have been no formal proposals. As discussed in this space previously, the league itself loses nothing until games and revenue go away. A small group reportedly met for an in-person meeting on Thursday. Still, the context of that meeting is unknown, and wasn’t expected to include anything financially driven. Right now, there’s uncertainty as to which side will make the next move. Rob Manfred suggested, before the lockout, that the league had made a proposal, and the union had it on their plate to hammer out an agreement. That feeling wasn’t reciprocated from the union side, and now we have a stalemate. Looking at the offseason calendar, that’s where we can find the best indication of how things are progressing. Neither side has much desire to meet or move on any critical issues. It’s not just economics that needs to be hammered out, but they undoubtedly are among the chief concerns. Baseball’s next event was a trade of arbitration figures on January 14. It’s in February that teams report to Spring Training. Both sides seem content waiting through the turn of the year until making any more advancements. That’s a fine stance, and one the union likely needs to create leverage as their greatest asset is the on-field product, but that also leaves a significant amount of work to be done in just a month. How this all gets hammered out, especially with two sides doing virtually nothing to take steps forward presently, will be something to behold. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  19. Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that while a handful of topics are to be discussed regarding a new CBA, core economic won’t be on the agenda until January. Since the lockout occurred on December 2nd, Major League Baseball appears comfortable taking their time; there have been no formal proposals. As discussed in this space previously, the league itself loses nothing until games and revenue go away. A small group reportedly met for an in-person meeting on Thursday. Still, the context of that meeting is unknown, and wasn’t expected to include anything financially driven. Right now, there’s uncertainty as to which side will make the next move. Rob Manfred suggested, before the lockout, that the league had made a proposal, and the union had it on their plate to hammer out an agreement. That feeling wasn’t reciprocated from the union side, and now we have a stalemate. Looking at the offseason calendar, that’s where we can find the best indication of how things are progressing. Neither side has much desire to meet or move on any critical issues. It’s not just economics that needs to be hammered out, but they undoubtedly are among the chief concerns. Baseball’s next event was a trade of arbitration figures on January 14. It’s in February that teams report to Spring Training. Both sides seem content waiting through the turn of the year until making any more advancements. That’s a fine stance, and one the union likely needs to create leverage as their greatest asset is the on-field product, but that also leaves a significant amount of work to be done in just a month. How this all gets hammered out, especially with two sides doing virtually nothing to take steps forward presently, will be something to behold. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  20. It’s been eight days since our last update, which not coincidentally came at the commencement of Major League Baseball deciding to lock out its players. After a flurry of moves in the leadup, we’ve now experienced the darkness of a league conducting no business. We’re now over a week into the lockout, and there hasn’t been a slew of developments. What is maybe most notable is that the league isn’t trying either. That’s not exactly shocking, given the owners have nothing to lose until games are lost, and with so much time before that reality, their incentive to negotiate likely is at an all-time low. Although talks about working through a new CBA have not yet taken place, there have been a couple of notes surrounding the sport. Let’s get into those. Rule Changes Disappear Over the past few years, we’ve heard plenty from Rob Manfred regarding the pace of play. Baseball is consistently suggested as a dying sport, and the need to create action has been one of Manfred’s chief concerns. Everything from pitch clocks to banning the shift has been suggested, and most of it appeared to be a matter of when not if. As of right now, all of that is off the table. According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Manfred publicly stated that Major League Baseball has not made “any specific rule-change proposals” to the players. Whether that changes in future rounds of negotiations remains to be seen. It is odd that a year in which rules were implemented across many different leagues with an aim at the highest level, none are currently planned to see the light of day. Apparently, the belief by Manfred is that rule changes would be a point of contention to players and, therefore, something the league is trying to avoid. It’s a weird stance, given that any rule changes would need to be collectively bargained. Not allowing the players to discuss them in a formal setting is counter-productive to them ever being applied. A Laid Out Plan Of course, this is just one man’s opinion, but Ken Rosenthal is among the best in the business. He penned a piece for The Athletic that outlines what a new CBA could (or, by his estimation, should) look like. Everything from the luxury tax to free agency is discussed. Rosenthal does an excellent job expanding on each topic and viewing the outcome through the lens of both parties. Without giving up too much of the meat and potatoes, I appreciate his conclusion that expanded playoffs would be less than ideal. However, that’s something the owners want, and he notes it would be beneficial for the players to bend on that point. If nothing else, the concluding point that “reasonable people working off an existing framework should not find it so difficult to reach an agreement” hits right in the sweet spot. That’s it for this week; not much. Pretty expected, though, considering the lack of effort put in from both sides to this point. Let’s hope for some positive developments in the week ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  21. We’re now over a week into the lockout, and there hasn’t been a slew of developments. What is maybe most notable is that the league isn’t trying either. That’s not exactly shocking, given the owners have nothing to lose until games are lost, and with so much time before that reality, their incentive to negotiate likely is at an all-time low. Although talks about working through a new CBA have not yet taken place, there have been a couple of notes surrounding the sport. Let’s get into those. Rule Changes Disappear Over the past few years, we’ve heard plenty from Rob Manfred regarding the pace of play. Baseball is consistently suggested as a dying sport, and the need to create action has been one of Manfred’s chief concerns. Everything from pitch clocks to banning the shift has been suggested, and most of it appeared to be a matter of when not if. As of right now, all of that is off the table. According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Manfred publicly stated that Major League Baseball has not made “any specific rule-change proposals” to the players. Whether that changes in future rounds of negotiations remains to be seen. It is odd that a year in which rules were implemented across many different leagues with an aim at the highest level, none are currently planned to see the light of day. Apparently, the belief by Manfred is that rule changes would be a point of contention to players and, therefore, something the league is trying to avoid. It’s a weird stance, given that any rule changes would need to be collectively bargained. Not allowing the players to discuss them in a formal setting is counter-productive to them ever being applied. A Laid Out Plan Of course, this is just one man’s opinion, but Ken Rosenthal is among the best in the business. He penned a piece for The Athletic that outlines what a new CBA could (or, by his estimation, should) look like. Everything from the luxury tax to free agency is discussed. Rosenthal does an excellent job expanding on each topic and viewing the outcome through the lens of both parties. Without giving up too much of the meat and potatoes, I appreciate his conclusion that expanded playoffs would be less than ideal. However, that’s something the owners want, and he notes it would be beneficial for the players to bend on that point. If nothing else, the concluding point that “reasonable people working off an existing framework should not find it so difficult to reach an agreement” hits right in the sweet spot. That’s it for this week; not much. Pretty expected, though, considering the lack of effort put in from both sides to this point. Let’s hope for some positive developments in the week ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  22. Just past 11 p.m. central this past Wednesday evening, MLB’s 30 owners initiated the sport’s first lockout in 26 years after failing to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association. While the work stoppage ultimately falls on the shoulders of both the owners and the players, commissioner Rob Manfred’s public arguments framing the players as the primary culprits are largely nonsensical. “This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive,” Manfred opined in a letter to fans shortly after the lockout began. “It’s simply not a viable option.” Expounding further during a press conference on Thursday morning, Manfred stated, “Things like a shortened reserve period, a $100 million reduction in revenue sharing, and salary arbitration for the whole two-year class are bad for the sport, bad for the fans, and bad for competitive balance.” The three bargaining chips cited by Manfred are among the most coveted by the Players Association during negotiations, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. (For those curious, ESPN's Jeff Passan outlined "the myriad issues being discussed" between the two sides in a recent column.) Despite his bold claims, the commissioner did not provide concrete evidence to back them up. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s difficult to envision how the Players Association’s proposals would negatively impact the sport, competitive balance, or the fans, in particular. American professional baseball and the fans of MLB would not be impacted directly — and perhaps only indirectly with interventions such as slightly increased ticket and souvenir prices, though the impact would likely be marginal — by a reduction in revenue sharing between the owners. (However, as Passan discusses, decreased revenue sharing would likely negatively impact the owners of small market teams more than those in large markets, but, it should be noted, they're still billionaires.) A change to the arbitration process and a reduction in time before players reach free agency would only end up with them making more money, more quickly while having an opportunity to change teams earlier in their careers, potentially opening up a wider path to regular playing time in the Major Leagues. In reality, the major changes the Players Association is seeking during negotiations would only negatively impact one entity, though it’s important to note that Manfred is technically an employee of said entity: the owners. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that the commissioner framed the lockout in the way he ultimately did. However, doing so, particularly by saying that the players’ demands are bad for the fans, is misleading at best, insulting at worst, and nonsensical overall. The fans of MLB will only be harmed — and even that is a dramatic way to describe the theoretical effects of the stoppage — if the lockout extends into Spring Training and the regular season, reducing the amount of games to take in. Again, neither party is without fault for the current lockout, but Manfred’s framing of the bargaining chips getting played against the owners as a negative for the fan should not be taken with a grain of salt, but rather thrown away all together. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  23. It’s here, and it’s anything but beautiful. As of December 1st at 11:59 pm EST, Major League Baseball’s CBA expired. Today, December 2, 2021, the league decided to lockout its players. A cold winter is upon us. As we’ve discussed for weeks, the basic premise is that all Major League Baseball functions relating to teams and players at the highest level have ceased. Ownership and Rob Manfred are an entity, while the players and their union are the other. Everything else hangs in the balance. Despite the free-agent frenzy we’ve had the past week, or so, team sites are desolate wastelands giving nods only to Manfred's statement and players of yesteryear. Rosters are all but wiped out, and it’s as if the players do not exist (unless, of course, MLB can profit off of their likenesses through the official shop). There’s plenty of talking points to go over from the last week, and while free agency took most of the headlines, each of these subjects should be touched on. In no particular order, let’s get into it. The Ball Problem All year long, Major League Baseball was working through issues with the chief instrument in play during a game, the ball. First looking to rid the use of sticky substances and then going through in-game checks to verify compliance, new instructions had been introduced to the playing field. The only problem was that the league itself was playing unfairly. Thanks to research from astrophysicist Meredith Wills, a story broke regarding baseball using two different balls during the 2021 season. We had no-hitters popping off like crazy, and then all of a sudden, they were gone. In Bradford William Davis’ piece for Insider, he talks about the distrust the implications surrounding the ball have brought for players. MLB could be incentivized to create more offense in high-profile games. The league has many gambling partnerships, and changing the chief implement could also work to their benefit. With a lockout looming, cheating players out of a level of consistency when their entire earning power comes from statistical performance seems disingenuous at best. Everyone should be operating on a level playing field, but the league itself decided to tamper with the main component. CBA Adjustments In a piece filed to ESPN by Jesse Rogers, we are given a general idea of the negotiations regarding a new CBA center around. Major League Baseball has proposed expanded playoffs, going to 14 teams, which would benefit ownership with increased opportunities for revenue. The expanded playoffs would allow for division winners to pick their Wild Card opponents. With 14 teams making the Postseason, players are worried about a lack of competitive drive for organizations. Half of the league making the final tournament could depress a reason to spend in the offseason and further stifle wages for players. Another proposal from the league is to add a lottery system, giving each non-playoff organization a shot at the number one pick. The top three selections would become a part of this lottery with the hopes of removing a desire to tank and generate a beneficial draft standing. Evan Drellich’s piece at The Athletic talks about the issues creating the most discourse between the two sides. For the players, things are focused on the years it takes to reach free agency and revenue sharing implications. The owners are concerned about the luxury tax and raising the minimum salary thresholds. Proposals are often presented in a give-and-take scenario. The players will need to get creative regarding free agency and compensation as ownership has dug in on their stance regarding those topics. Understanding the Lockout With baseball currently shelved, there are some principles to understand as we move forward. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich put together an excellent primer earlier this week. By definition, a lockout is the work of ownership or the league. Those in charge have effectively told players, or their workers, that they are unwilling to work together unless the players accept their deal. On the flip side, a strike would be the players suggesting their services are no longer available until an agreement favors their position. Up until games are missed, a strike is not on the table. Because of the lockout, we will not see traditional offseason events take place. The Winter Meetings have been canceled, and that at least temporarily includes a postponement of the Rule 5 draft. Pitchers and catchers are set to report for Spring Training beginning on February 14, 2022. If we are still in this holding pattern come mid-to-late January, that’s when worry will start to feel real. This lockout is the first work stoppage in 26 years, going back to the 1994-95 strike. Lockouts, rather than strikes, are more capable of being overcome. To the average fan, anything missed in the offseason generally flies under the radar. Bud Selig needed Cal Ripken Jr.’s Iron Man streak and the Home Run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to save his sport last time. Rob Manfred would need something similar to draw fans’ interest back in should a strike commence, and it would be in the best interest of both parties to avoid that outcome. While locked out, the intention of collective bargaining must be to negotiate in good faith. This will be interesting as Major League Baseball is coming off a Covid-shortened season in which both sides put many of their concerns and qualms out in public. It was evident that there was a wide gap and plenty of distrust between the two parties during Spring 2020, and that was before the CBA had expired. What About the FA Frenzy As the lockout loomed, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA decided to move the non-tender deadline to November 30. With the December 1 deadline for a work stoppage effectively implemented, we saw free agents signing at a blistering pace. This is something baseball has often lagged behind the NBA and NFL. With free agency becoming an event this season, The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli wondered if a transaction deadline isn’t necessary. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told her, “When you have an ending, it forces decisions, like the trade deadline. Nothing ever gets done until that last week, and then it’s a flurry of deals the last two days because people know it’s game over, so they are forced to make a decision. I like that, it makes people just finally get in the game and pick a spot. Pick a lane to drive in. You are either in it or not in it, you are either in for a penny or a pound or whatever it is. I like that aspect of it.” Players have previously shot down the idea that a deadline would be a good thing as it would force them into decisions when time is the only thing on their side. One key difference between baseball and other sports is that MLB doesn’t have a salary cap. The piece highlighted agents and executives' stances, providing many different ways to think about a deadline. At its core, though, we are left with this parting thought, “It gets talked about a lot, but it’s never been something that seemingly has momentum,” (Ross) Atkins said. “So, what is the reason for that?” What’s On the Other Side? We’ve seen a busy couple of weeks with the lockout looming, but it could very well pale in comparison to what happens following the resumption of work. Travis Sawchik went back in time to look at what took place following the 1994 work stoppage. Although we’ve had a glut of free-agent signings in recent days, the reality is that there’s still so much yet to do. Arbitration figures must be exchanged, and hundreds of players are still looking for new homes in 2022. All of that must be completed, and we have no idea how long this lockout process will take. The calendar should be what we look to when trying to understand what’s to come. January is a crucial month, and where the divide lies then will likely determine future action for the sport. Spring Training games are the most reasonable to miss, and players would probably welcome that situation. Should business not commence until February, though, fans will likely experience one of the busiest months in history should the league look to start on time. Teams that have shopping yet to do, or transactions needing to be made, could be in for complete chaos with hopes of getting everything accomplished. As Twins fans, that’s potentially exciting with a payroll sitting at just $91 million and a roster yet to be filled out. We’re just getting started in this process, and so much more will be publicly available through the coming weeks and months. It will be challenging to determine what’s tactic and what has merit, but make no mistake that the league is set to use its platform as their megaphone. With MLB Network becoming an ownership talk show, MLB.com removing the workers, and teams disassociating from their talent, the players union will need to sway public perception with a much smaller outlet. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  24. Major League Baseball and its owners officially locked out the MLB Players Union. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote a letter to baseball fans, and here is my response. To the Commissioner: I first want to ask you why you don’t support the great game of baseball. In this past season, some of the greatest moments in the history of the sport took place. However, there continues to be a long list of issues tied to your time as commissioner. Fans understand that not all commissioners will be loved, but your actions have impacted a generation of fans, and it may be tough to bring these former fans back into the fold. Fans list of grievances against the owners and yourself is long. During the unprecedented 2020 season, the owners and your office tried to paint the players as greedy and unwilling to sacrifice enough during a global pandemic. Baseball was lucky to get through the 2020 campaign, but plenty of teams and players were impacted along the way. As reported in the Washington Post, “The minute it became apparent this season was going to have to be played in empty stadiums, Manfred and the owners began moaning about their losses, even though the game has never been healthier financially than in recent seasons. New contracts with regional television networks have lined the owners’ pockets, and attendance has been strong.” Another grievance fans have against your leadership is tied to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Multiple managers and a general manager were fired in response to the allegations, but how much did they have to do with the scandal? None of the players involved in the scandal were suspended, and two of the three managers were back in baseball after missing a shortened 2020 campaign. In your letter to fans, you touted the $1.7 million spent on the “broken” free agent system during November. Guess what? Players were willing to strike these deals because of the looming lockout. It’s a fundamental human need to want to know where your family will live and how much income a person can expect. Players want security and to know what the future holds. Also, you said, “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.” While that may sound good on paper, this shouldn’t be breaking news. Increasing revenues across baseball should allow teams to spend more money. Every offseason should see a new record amount of money being committed to players. Your list of concessions to the players includes some ideas that will fundamentally make the game stronger. There should be a minimum payroll. Teams shouldn’t be able to engage in service time manipulation. Young players should be paid more, including those in the minor leagues. Fans want a universal DH. A new draft system can help to stop teams from trying to be competitive. All of these changes would make baseball more competitive, not less. There is one thing we can agree on; baseball can not afford to cancel games. Baseball’s popularity continues to decline, and losing any part of the 2022 season will push fans further away from this great game. As you referenced regarding the 1994 season, “We owe you, our fans, better than that.” Today is a difficult day for baseball fans. You have made questionable leadership decisions throughout your time as commissioner. What is baseball fans’ biggest problem with you? You don’t appear to be a fan of the game. View full article
  25. “This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive,” Manfred opined in a letter to fans shortly after the lockout began. “It’s simply not a viable option.” Expounding further during a press conference on Thursday morning, Manfred stated, “Things like a shortened reserve period, a $100 million reduction in revenue sharing, and salary arbitration for the whole two-year class are bad for the sport, bad for the fans, and bad for competitive balance.” The three bargaining chips cited by Manfred are among the most coveted by the Players Association during negotiations, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. (For those curious, ESPN's Jeff Passan outlined "the myriad issues being discussed" between the two sides in a recent column.) Despite his bold claims, the commissioner did not provide concrete evidence to back them up. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s difficult to envision how the Players Association’s proposals would negatively impact the sport, competitive balance, or the fans, in particular. American professional baseball and the fans of MLB would not be impacted directly — and perhaps only indirectly with interventions such as slightly increased ticket and souvenir prices, though the impact would likely be marginal — by a reduction in revenue sharing between the owners. (However, as Passan discusses, decreased revenue sharing would likely negatively impact the owners of small market teams more than those in large markets, but, it should be noted, they're still billionaires.) A change to the arbitration process and a reduction in time before players reach free agency would only end up with them making more money, more quickly while having an opportunity to change teams earlier in their careers, potentially opening up a wider path to regular playing time in the Major Leagues. In reality, the major changes the Players Association is seeking during negotiations would only negatively impact one entity, though it’s important to note that Manfred is technically an employee of said entity: the owners. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that the commissioner framed the lockout in the way he ultimately did. However, doing so, particularly by saying that the players’ demands are bad for the fans, is misleading at best, insulting at worst, and nonsensical overall. The fans of MLB will only be harmed — and even that is a dramatic way to describe the theoretical effects of the stoppage — if the lockout extends into Spring Training and the regular season, reducing the amount of games to take in. Again, neither party is without fault for the current lockout, but Manfred’s framing of the bargaining chips getting played against the owners as a negative for the fan should not be taken with a grain of salt, but rather thrown away all together. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
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