The Major League Baseball Players Association representatives met again today with the representatives from the owners. After the proposal yesterday by the players, the owners came back with a proposal on several fronts.

There were some things that seemed to at least be agreeable on from both sides. They seem to both be on the side of having a pool of money set aside for pre-arbitration players. The pool was for the top 30 players in WAR who are pre-arbitration. Which version of WAR wasn’t specified as of this typing. But while the two sides do seem to think this plan is one to work on, they are light years apart on how much money should be in that pool. The players asked for $105M, which would break down to just over $3.3M per player. However, the owners offered up $10M, which would be a bonus of just over $330,000 per player.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that as a part of the owners proposal that a new minimum salary would also be the maximum salary a team could pay a pre-arbitration player. Teams have often “rewarded” players with a little bit of extra money – nothing substantial, but $50-100,000 at times just as a “thanks” and hopefully a token of good faith the player will remember down the line if and when the team tries to extend them. That would be off of the table in the owners proposal.

Major League Baseball’s owners did drop from their proposal to change how arbitration works according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. They also offered to raise the league minimum salary to $615,000. The players had previously proposed $775,000.

There was clearly no deal that was agreed upon today. But movement is happening in some areas even if things are still very far apart on many of the things they are agreeing on as baseline ideas.

16 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    Thanks for your diligent breakdown of all this, Doug. In the end, it’s just sad to see it drag on like this. My pessimistic over/under start of July 4th may yet be in play (I hope not, but …).

  2. LDS

    I’m doubting a full season. Maybe we need to take up kite flying to get us to summer.

    • Mark Moore

      Going all-in for MiLB … possibly with the MiLB TV feed.

      • LDS

        Actually, now that I’m retired, I was looking forward to seeing live minor league games. Alas, where we are moving had a number of Appalachian League teams, but I guess that’s a pipe dream now.

      • Mark Moore

        LDS,

        From what I can find and as I understand it, we will have MiLB games regardless of the CBA progress … or lack of same. Only players on the 40-man will be expected to not play. Anyone else is fair game for a full MiLB season.

  3. Colorado Red

    The biggest issue is going to be service time manipulation.
    Owners want to keep it.
    I think you will see about 81 games played this year.

  4. MBS

    Players and owners both thought that using a merit based metric like WAR to distribute money made sense. I used a very similar approach on an idea of distributing money to the players. Granted about 2 vastly different payroll issues, but the method was the same.

    I believe the season will start on time, spring training, not so much. I doubt owners or players want to have a revenue shortened season again.

    • Tom Reeves

      Service time manipulation effects so few players. The only players really impacted are those who have the potential to be super stars. A midrange prospect who gets called up a month into the season is just happy to be called up. They didn’t expect to be joining the team out of camp. But a very small percentage of players have their service time manipulated and then it actually impacts them on making a windfall in free agency. Further, I think clubs are finding that the disgruntled player issues aren’t worth the manipulation. I mean the Reds really have gained noting from manipulating Senzel’s time (even through he sprained his ankle, the Reds manipulation occurred before that). Then, the Reds didn’t manipulate India’s time and the guy who’s up with a great attitude and plays through multiple injury issues + wins ROY. Hopefully at least the Reds front office learns a lesson there.

      But, I don’t think this issue stops the season from starting.

  5. Optimist

    The pre-arb pool concept is interesting, and the owners amount is not a total joke – it has some value in simply accepting the concept. I wonder if the players counter with something along the lines of the scaled draft-slot valuations – i.e. don’t limit it to 30 players on an arguable rating (i.e. why WAR, which WAR), but base it on a concrete stat like IP or PA/AB.

    Same for the service time games – build a ratio there so it doesn’t come down to an extra day gets a whole year of service.

    Alas, until another few teams have public financials like the Braves, it seems the owners have every reason to remain secretive and demanding.

  6. west larry

    I want spring training and the regular season on time, but I don’t think the owners want the season to start on time: 1) if they can delay the start of the season until mid-May, they will lower their guaranteed salary by about 20 percent, as they would play about 130-135 games, 2) they would avoid the cold weather back east, and 3) they would probably further away from the covid threat. With an expanded playoff structure, they would make a lot of gold at the end of the season. I hope that I’m wrong.

    • west larry

      don’t want the season to start on time…

  7. doofus

    What happened in today’s CBA meeting? Both sides agreed to get takeout from the same restaurant.

  8. Old Big Ed

    It looks to me like they have generally agreed on the contours of the deal, and are just arguing about numbers now. Whether/how to adjust revenue sharing may be an exception, but I don’t sense any major issue there, either. They probably will haggle a bit more on some adjustments to the draft to address tanking, but I do not believe that management really cares much about that issue and that it will be worked out pretty easily. They aren’t going to lose regular season revenue over whether the Rockies get the 3rd pick or the 6th pick.

    Once it gets down to numbers, as it appears to be, then it is like every other negotiation over the sale of real estate or a business, or the amount to settle a lawsuit. One side moves a little bit, then the other side does. The pre-arb pool will end up being $30 million or so ($1 million/team isn’t going to stop the trains, either); the minimum first-year salary will be about $650k; and the competitive balance tax will be about the midpoint between the $210mm and $245mm that is on the table now.

    They are apparently working today on the non-core issues, such as the universal DH and the scope of the playoffs.

    One good sign from yesterday is that they apparently made a point not to let the negotiations upstage the Hall of Fame announcement, out of respect to the newly-elected HOFers, which in this case is only David Ortiz. I am beginning to believe that there won’t even be any loss of spring training games.

  9. Gonzo Reds

    I’m looking forward to managing the Strat-o-Matic Reds while we wait on these greedy knuckleheads to get it together. Who’s with me?

  10. Redsvol

    I don’t think there is much of an appetite to lose revenue/salary this year. Both sides lost a huge amount of $ in 2020. The players gave up the age based arbitration idea and both sides are signaling some agreement on compensating the best pre-arb players more from some type of bonus-pool. There is movement to change the draft, increase pre-arb minimum salary and movement to add playoff teams – All good signs.

    From the players side, they can point to several wins for the younger players. But its the middle players (relief pitchers, platoon fielders) that will still be screwed. I doubt that Union Reps like Max Sherzer, Gerrit Cole, Francisco Lindor and Marcus Simien are going to fall on their sword and delay the season over minimum guys and platoon players’ salaries when they each just signed contracts paying them more than $20-40 million dollars a year to play baseball.