“Baseball–A Win-Win Solution”
A duel at dawn..
Five paces and fire
It was 1804…President Alexander Hamilton in a duel with his VP-Aaron Burr.
Monday, we have another likely duel, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred vs Players Union Chief Tony Clark.
We are now 84-days into the Baseball Lockout. Spring training has been delayed, and now the opening of the season faces cancellation. MLB says if there is no new collective bargaining agreement, come Monday, they will cancel the first week of the season.
The owners say there will not be a 162-game full schedule if there is no CBA by Monday-close of business. The cancelled games, including the Padres opening series against the Giants will go away. And that means players will be giving up game checks for every game lopped off the schedule.
The owners say they have suffered enormous financial damages because of the pandemic, the 60-games season, the loss of revenues and more. The Union says the players lost 67% of their salaries in the pandemic year, and that salaries have dropped in the last two years, even though the average salary is 4.1M per player. They refuse to recognize this is pandemic related.
Manfred locked the game down-December 2nd. The owners went 10-weeks without making a proposal to the Union. What they offered was sheer pennies on the dollar upgrades to a wide variety of economics.
There are upwards of 15-different economic issues that have to be resolved, and now 12-weeks into the lockdown, there has not been one agreement on any of the issues.
The Union has responded, asking for huge pay jumps in a wide variety of economic categories.
How far is the North Pole from Antarctica? That’s how far the gap is between what the owners are willing to offer compared to what the Players Association is demanding.
Remembering there is a 10-billion dollar pie out there to be split up. And that is why there is fierce debate as to what the owners should keep, what the players have a right to get.
Here’s a summary of each item, where they started, where they are now. Not close at all, on any issue.
LUXURY TAX..It kicks in at 212M. The owners offered a small increase starting at 214M. The Union wants the tax threshold at 278M. 84-days into talks, they have never even discussed a move off the first proposal. And this is the most important item on the agenda.
LUXURY TAX PENALTIES..Flip flopping rules, the owners proposed teams that go over the tax the first year won’t be penalized. But from the 2nd year on, teams that repeat will face a 50% tax on every dollar and loss of draft picks. The same sanctions with increased penalties of 75% and then 100% tax rate for going over the threshold will kick in for years, plus the loss of draft picks. The union is refusing to respond.
FREE AGENCY…It is at 6-years and there will be no change. The Union wanted it reduced to five.
ARBITRATION..It kicks in for players in the 4th-5th years. It won’t change. The union wanted it dropped for players heading into their third year.
SUPER 2 PLAYERS…Currently the top 22-percent of 2nd year players, by a statistical formula, can go to arbitration. The Union wants the Super 2-category increased to 75% of the players.
SUPER 2-BONUS POOL…The Union wants a pool of 100M made available for the 75% top players that would qualify. The owners are willing to offer 20M as a pool, but for only the top 22%.
SERVICE TIME…MLB is proposing that teams that bring up young players and have success will be given bonuses and teams will get bonus draft picks. No response from the union.
INTERNATIONAL DRAFT..Coupled with payment slots consistent with the current amateur draft of high school and college players.
DRAFT LOTTERY…Trying to stop tanking, owners want to introduce a lottery involving 3-teams, the union wants 8-teams in the lottery for the top pick. The owners have proposed 4-teams take part.
MINIMUM SALARY..1st year players get 570,000 a year, owners have proposed an increase to 615,000. The Union wants 775,000 with increases each year..
MINOR LEAGUE SALARY..First year players get 46,600 to play in the minors. The union wants an immediate increase to 660,000.
REVENUE SHARING..The Union wanted decreases to the small market teams. The owners refused to negotiate.
MINOR LEAGUE ROSTERS..The owners asked for the right to order teams to reduce the 180-players under minor league contracts to 150, but dropped the proposal. This came a year after owners cut 42-minor league teams to cut costs in the lower minors.
PLAYOFFS…The owners want to increase the playoffs from 10-to-14 teams to increase revenue streams for both sides, but the Union wants 12-team playoffs.
FLOOR TO SPENDING…In addition to the Luxury Tax threshold, the owners want a floor to spending where each team must spend at least 100M on payroll yearly. The union strangely enough is against the proposal even though it would mean small market teams would have increase payroll making more money available for players to get pay-days. They don’t want it tie to a change in the Luxury tax thresholds..
DESIGNATED HITTER..It would add 15-full paid roster spots to teams in the National League.. It has yet to be agreed too.
OPTION RULE..Limit teams to sending out and bringing players back to 5-times in a season. Can’t inhibit teams from improving their rosters especially when you have significant injury issues. The idea was dropped.
So we are on the brink of losing games, spring training has been delayed, and neither side is willing to make offers that are realistic.
Who’s right vs wrong. Both
If I were king, here’s what I would go to get the season started. It’s called a PARTNERSHIP PLAN.
COMMON SENSE…, Find a middle ground on each financial aspect in year one. As the revenues increase each year, and the pie gets bigger, take the percentage increase of the revenue pie, and use that percentage to increase each financial area of the new CBA. Money grows and maybe labor peace too.
Start with a luxury tax threshold midway between 214M and 278M and start from there. It would go up yearly based on revenue growth. Do the exact same thing with all the other financial areas. Allowing for more spending at the top, you invoke the 100M floor to spending as a start and that increases yearly if the pie grows. More money for all types of players in all types of market.
Both sides earn more money as the pie grows.
Labor peace by virtue of a baseball partnership, owners and players.
Fix it now, so the umpires can yell ‘play ball’.
DUEL AT DAWN-MONDAY…Give Manfred and Clark both pistols and if they kill each other, good, get some other leaders involved that want to grow the game for the fans and each side, not try to screw everybody and destroy interest in the game.