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Final proposals pre Lockout show some interesting CBA negotiation details


The Athletic’s Evan Drellich is in Irving, Texas, reporting from the final meetings between the owners and the players before the 12/1/21 CBA expiration deadline and subsequent lockout, and he’s come up with some really interesting nuggets.

I know the Athletic is behind a paywall; i’ll try to summarize some of the back and forth details, some of which I find pretty interesting as a fan.

Here’s some of the things the owners are offering:

  • MLB has proposed an increase to the minimum salary (which is probably a given in every CBA).
  • MLB has proposed an increase in the luxury tax cap (currently at $210M) to $214M growing to $220M. This is a start, since they proposed earlier DROPPING it to $180M along with a salary floor, but is kind of ridiculous to offer basically a 5% cap growth at a time when inflation is nearly that this year alone.
  • MLB has proposed a draft lottery at the top to stop tanking … but only in the top 3 picks (which is basically useless).

The Players have made some proposals too:

  • Basing draft order on a formula, not straight on W/L record. 60% record, 40% market size. I’m guessing they don’t want the large market teams to ever draft in the top 10 again.
  • Teams receiving revenue sharing (14 of the 30 teams mind you, and which includes teams like Colorado, St. Louis and San Diego, each of whom really have no business getting revenue sharing) would only receive draft pick compensation if they finish above .500 (which I love).
  • Proposing a scaled hard line of players getting to FA based on age and service time. Its not a hard “when you get to X years you’re free” but a sliding scale meant to prevent players from languishing in the minors for years and then not getting to FA until they’re in their mid 30s.
  • Some recognition that service time issues aren’t going away, but putting in place “bonuses” that give service time for performance (if you make an All-star team after getting held down like Kris Bryant, then you get a full year of service time). I like this.
  • Arbitration after 2 years, not 3. Owners are dead set against this.
  • Changes to revenue sharing between owners, which they believe (rightly) leads to non-competitive behavior. Hard to argue against this when you watch teams like Miami and Pittsburgh get $50M a year to normally not compete.
  • Offer the owners expanded post-season
  • Offer the owners “patches” on the uniform … aka sponsorship on the uniforms.

These last two items are worth, collectively, hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners. So … if you propose something to owners that will give them that much money, they’re going to expect something back that gives the players that much money too. As in, salary floors, or huge incrases in minimum salaries.

Some interesting factoids here, for those who possibly think the owners are negotiating in good faith:

  • The Average MLB salary has fallen 6.4% since 2017 while revenues for the league rose from $10B in 2017 to $10.7B in 2019.
  • Even more striking … the median salary in the league is down THIRTY PERCENT since 2015. 30%.

This pattern shows what we already know really; that front offices are trending towards younger players at the expense of older veterans, choosing for a pre-arb $575k player instead of a $2M veteran player in his mid-30s for that last bench spot. This has generally gutted the FA market for mid-30s hitters and has run dozens into early retirement. Furthermore, we’ve even seen declines in the top of the salary market; the qualifying offer (which is the mean salary of the games’ top paid 125 players) DROPPED this year for the first time ever, from $18.9 to $18.4M. The players see these numbers, fume at them, and know that they’re being perpetually manipulated by multi-millionaire owners who are gaslighting the public in to believing they’re actually LOSING money but who refuse to open their books.

Get ready for a long winter.

Written by Todd Boss

December 2nd, 2021 at 9:05 am

8 Responses to 'Final proposals pre Lockout show some interesting CBA negotiation details'

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  1. I’m not nearly smart enough to game this out to its conclusion (or maybe I just need to get my crystal ball out of the attic), but I have to say the sponsorship logos on uniforms is…well, I don’t like it. I know why the players proposed it, and I know why the owners want it, but obtrusive ads will ruin the game’s aesthetics and unobtrusive ads won’t make the owners very much money. So I don’t like that one at all.


    2 Dec 21 at 9:53 pm

  2. You know, as a long-time fan of European soccer … which has always had the entire front of shirts typically emboldened with a sponsor logo (in fact, i’m wearing an Arsenal “Fly Emirates” jersey as we speak), I don’t really care about ads on shirts. but that’s just me.

    I think if you asked the players “hey, would you trade a patch on a jersey for an extra year of arbitration” …they’d probably be like, uh yeah.

    It seems to me that the two big things the players can offer that really, instantly give serious money to the owners are: uniform advertisements and expanded postseason. I’ll say it again: if these two things are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners, then the owners should be willing to offer something worth hundreds of millions of dollars back to the players.

    Todd Boss

    3 Dec 21 at 8:23 am

  3. Baseball has annual revenues of $10+ billion a year.

    Boo Hoo that they lost money in 2020. How much more can they make by whoring out with signage on jerseys?

    Mark L

    3 Dec 21 at 8:35 am

  4. It is what it is. Baseball owners are business men who are not apt to leave money on the table.

    This is a list of the annual values of shirt sponsorship deals in the EPL for the 2019-20 season. Now, they allow individual clubs to negotiate their own deals so the range is incredibly wide. If MLB did the same, then we know that the Yankees could get a ton more than Pittsburgh. But you can see that the big EPL clubs all have deals worth at least 40M pounds ($50M dollars).

    Would any rational person say, “No thanks, i don’t want an extra $50M?” Of course not. Would you rather have “history and tradition” or $50M? Would you rather have an extra year of arbitration for 0-3 players or an extra $50M.

    now repeat that entire exercise when it comes to expanded post season … which is now more and more where teams make their money. The split between players and owners of post-season money is very complex, but suffice it to say the players don’t get nearly as much as the owners do, and the 2019 player player portion was more than $80M.

    Like i said in the post, advertising on jerseys and expanded post-season are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners, the owners want them, and it will all come down to what they are willing to give up.

    Todd Boss

    3 Dec 21 at 10:48 am

  5. Why is jersey advertising even a CBA issue? I’d think that’s something the owners could implement unilaterally.

    Todd, while I agree that the owners don’t tend to leave money on the table, this is MLB we’re talking about where tradition and pearl-clutching “sanctity of the game” win many arguments.


    3 Dec 21 at 3:04 pm

  6. In either scenario, I don’t see jersey ads as leverage for the players. The owners can say they don’t want it and therefore not concede additional revenue to the players, or they should be able to implement unilaterally and not conceded any revenue to the players. Am I wrong?


    3 Dec 21 at 3:07 pm

  7. Locals shouldn’t worry too much about jersey advertising with the team that hasn’t been able to come to grips with selling stadium naming rights. Talk about money left on the table . . .


    3 Dec 21 at 5:06 pm

  8. Why is jersey advertising a CBA issue? Because its something that has not existed before, that goes directly onto something the plyaers wear, has not existed before and therefore is something to be collectively bargained for.

    Why do the players care? Because its a bargaining chip. The players may very well not care in the least, but if it is a pathway towards something they want, then they’ll argue against it unless it comes with a benefit.

    By all accounts so far, the owners are the ones not negotiating in any good faith. They’re refusing to budge on anything, and “offering” things to the players that technically make things worse for them. Its kind of ridiculous and i’m continually shocked when people defend the owners in social media.

    Todd Boss

    5 Dec 21 at 10:49 am

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