Major League Baseball owners continue to lock out the players until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, keeping spring training from starting. Today is also their own self-imposed “deadline” in order to complete a deal and keep Opening Day on target. They have said that if a deal isn’t reached by the end of Monday that they will begin to cancel games and that they won’t be made up. There’s some question as to whether or not that actually have the ability to cancel games without the players approval, but that’s another topic for another day.

On Sunday the owners and the players representatives met all day. There were multiple meetings between the parties, as well as meetings with their own parties to discuss things before meeting up with the other side. Despite meetings all day long that included multiple back-and-forth discussions, neither side made any formal proposal to the other.

While you may have seen a tweet from Jon Heyman about the sides being close, you may have missed how he had to backtrack on it when a player called him out on that information and then Heyman stated “My source said it’s possible. Is he realistic? We shall see.”…… Talk about something of little value. Maybe see if your source is realistic before publishing what he’s telling you?

On Monday the two sides will get back to the table again. Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that they will begin meeting at 10am ET. He also reported that the owners were willing to move up on the competitive balance tax (luxury tax) but it wouldn’t move very far from where it’s at now – $214M.

The luxury tax is probably the biggest issue between the two sides. The owners are basically trying to lower the number (when compared to the growth in revenue) while also making the penalties harsher than ever before for going over it.

Minimum salary is also an area where the two sides are still far apart on. The players also dropped their super 2 rate from 75% down to 35% on Saturday, but the owners have said that they will not budge on the 22% that the number has been in the past.

Expanded playoffs, though, is another sticking point of sorts. Both sides have seemingly agreed to expanding the playoffs beyond the current 10 teams. The players have offered 12 playoff spots, while the owners want 14 playoff spots and have tried tying that to minimally beneficial things to the players. The expanded playoffs are worth an estimated $100M a year to Major League Baseball.

We’ll all have to see how things go today, but after a week of meeting every single day, not a whole lot has actually been moved in the right direction between the two sides. The owners refuse to budge on multiple issues and have refused since the very beginning. The players have backed off some of those requests, but not all of them. How the two sides view the luxury tax issues seems like it’s night-and-day. Miracles do happen, but if a deal is going to be struck before the day is over it certainly feels like that’s what it’s going to have to take – a miracle.

47 Responses

  1. Rednat

    i think this is similar to a lot of labor disputes. often the employers see the writing on the wall more clearly than the employees. i am sure the players have a higher opinion of the “state of the game” than the owners do.

    the game is in a lot of trouble and major changes have to be made for long term survival.

    • Doug Gray

      *Throws on conspiracy theory aluminum foil hat*

      With many of the teams having traded cash payouts in their RSN deals over the last half-decade or so for ownership stakes in the RSN they are beginning to see that there’s a real problem with the revenue from the RSN as more and more “cable” providers are dropping the services and or refusing to pay the asking prices. In turn, they see that this is a big problem to both the baseball and RSN businesses and worry that the RSN’s may have to fold or be sold at massive losses because they no longer can get every single person with a cable or satellite subscription to pay $5-10 for a channel and have to rely on just the sports fans to do so, which just isn’t enough to pay out the money for all of these sports rights. The owners are in turn trying to maximize every single last bit of things that they can right now to try and get the money while they can.

      *Rips off aluminum foil conspiracy theory hat*

      • Amarillo

        *continuing with the conspiracy theories*
        Most of the owners are fairly old, so they don’t really care about what baseball will look 20 years from now, because they won’t be around to enjoy it themselves. Whether due to biology are due to selling the team.

  2. Klugo

    Seems like this is more a situation of when the the players accept the owners criteria.

  3. Bdh

    Both the owners and players need to give in some and get a deal done. The real losers of the lockout are the fans especially if games are cancelled.

  4. LDS

    Start with a new commissioner. Make that part of the deal. And require any owner that hides behind small market to sell their part of the team. No revenue sharing for any team that wins less than some threshold of games. Perform or no pay.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Modifying the system so that losing hits an owner negatively in the balance sheet would enhance competitiveness across both leagues.

      • LDS

        I agree. And the reports coming out thus far today does not reflect an ownership even vaguely interested in negotiating in good faith.

      • Chris

        On the surface that sounds nice, but is it fair that a team from a smaller market has to work twice as hard as a team from a huge financial market. The Dodgers and Yankees for example, barely even have to try, and they win. Point being, the risk of larger market teams is much less than to those of small market teams, of taking some some sort of “hit” on their balance sheets. Until there is a true cap, and/or a true revenue sharing, MLB is going to have major problems.

      • LDS

        The small market argument is a red herring. Remember teams like San Diego, Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Milwaukee are all frequently rated as smaller markets than the Reds. Three of the four had better records than the Reds and San Diego had a much larger payroll and underperformed. Sorry with the tax treatment, media markets, etc. I don’t buy the small market excuse. It’s simply a justification for tightwad owners seeking to line their own pockets without having to produce. Monopolies are terrific. Where are the players going to go? Japan, Korea?

      • BK

        In the 2019 season, the Colorado Rockies (#21 of Forbes’ list of MLB teams in terms of market value) had $305M in revenue. The Giants (#5 on the same list) had $452M in revenue. The teams have roughly equal fixed cost leaving the Giants with almost $150M more in discretionary spending ability. The Giants have a significant, structural advantage over their division rival and can spend more on payroll, player development or anything else every year. These teams aren’t even on the extreme ends of the scale. Market size is no red herring.

      • Amarillo

        Would it actually increase competitiveness or would it just cause teams to be contracted? There is still a limited amount of talent overall, and increased spending does not increase the amount of available talent.

  5. west larry

    This is like David vs Goliath, except the owners won’t allow the players to use slingshots. Please get a deal in place. I don’t want to wonder when the baseball season will begin on July 4th.

  6. LeRoy

    The players say they want the teams to be more competitive and at the same time want to greatly increase the amount a team can spend before reaching the luxury tax. This is not the way to be more competitive. The rich team will increase the top players salaries and leave the lower market teams with even a less chance to be competitive. The small market teams never come close to the luxury tax because they can’t afford to.

    • David

      Yes, that is rather obvious, isn’t it?
      The players want to have their cake (the top 50 or so paid players in the game) and eat it, too (higher minimum salary, shorter path to arbitration and free agency).
      This implies that the revenue stream to baseball will continue to grow (that is NOT a sure thing), or that “owners” will have to accept less of a return (would you do that on a big investment, like your 401K or IRA?) and pay more in salaries.
      Cable is dying, and streaming services are growing. They will have to learn how to monetize that to revive (somewhat) the cable/viewing revenue.
      Will owners accept…less? We all “know” that owners are greedy, avaricious animals, who we all hate, except with out their billion dollar investment (recent team values, not withstanding) , there would be NO organized baseball. Would cities that OWN the stadiums (that’s kind of you and me if we live in a ML city) accept a lower return on leases to the teams? Most stadiums were financed by cities, and respectively, the people who pay taxes. Should they accept less so people like Joey Votto or Nick Castellanos can buy that fourth Ferrari or another Bentley, or that third house in the Bahamas?
      What kind of return SHOULD they expect? Would they accept a lower return? Would any of us accept much lower returns on our investments (such as a 401K or IRA) to benefit someone else?

      • greenmtred

        Conflating MLB owners accepting less of a very large return with my 401k or IRA being reduced is the sort of argument that makes arguments pointless.

      • Alex

        Except just as many if not more different teams have made or won the WS than the SB in the same timeframe. Money doesn’t account for variance. Taxpayers and counties that own stadiums see exactly nothing from their “investment” in the stadiums so I don’t even get what your saying there. And if we do they must have been mailing my check to the wrong house. It’s not like your regular job cause the players aren’t making a product they are the product. A product that has seen revenues skyrocket while player share has gone down. If the owners ultimately get screwed on the RSN cable deals THEY MADE that’s their fault for being such big, smart, tough businessmen who made the deal in the first place.

        The salary cap the owners want doesn’t work without a salary floor, see the other leagues you ppl keep talking about. The owners are the ones destroying competition. A 14 game playoff is basically a tournament that renders the regular season moot altogether. It’s faux competing to rake in more dollars at the end.
        43 days after lockout to make a pathetic proposal. Than Manfred says, we’ll make a good faith proposal this time. Which of course implies the others were bad faith.

        Basically every false narrative in one lol. And the Yankees and dodgers do try. Alot. Not only are they both well run, SPENDING MONEY IS TRYING!!! It’s like the entire point actually.

        When did the narrative go from, I don’t care who owns the team, they better try to win at all costs. To. Ah shucks, those poor billionaires, well guys, you do as little as you feel like you need to, us citizens will pay the bills for the stadium and let you take up large chunks of our city for parking. But you compete when it’s good for you. Haha what a joke.

    • Doug Gray

      Two teams went over the luxury tax in 2021. The Dodgers and the Padres. The Padres are lower in the “market” than the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Padres have the 26th largest market in the US. The Pirates are 25th. Please don’t confuse “can’t afford” with “don’t want to spend”.

      • BK

        The Padres spending in 2021 was more than 50 percent higher than previous years. Let’s see if they can sustain their current level of spending vis-a-vis the Dodgers who have a quarter of a billion dollar revenue advantage. Also, the Padres have the 17th most valuable franchise which is a better comparative metric as it is largely driven by revenue potential vs. media market size. Competing with teams that have nearly twice as much discretionary money to devote to payroll is a reality for many teams and this absolutely affects their ability to spend on a sustained basis.

      • Stock

        Also we should not confuse Market size or winning with revenue. Toronto and Oakland were competitive until the end of the year. However, both were at the bottom of the league in attendance. Tampa Bay won 100 games but finished 28th in the majors in attendance.

        Texas, Colorado and the Cubs all sucked but finished in the top 10 in attendance. Colorado has the 6th smallest market and one of the worst teams in basesball but drew more fans than 50% of the division winners and 60% of the teams that made the playoffs.

      • Chris

        Doug, the Padres are a recent large spender. I grew up in San Diego, and still follow the team closely. The Padres are spending WAY out of their league, and in the next coming years based on the current baseball structure, you will see the Padres sell everything off, and once again go into a mode of losing for years. Just look at their history. They cannot continue to spend on players they way they are, especially when running up against the Dodgers and their ability to spend forever. So with all due respect, your argument/reply above is just not relevant. It’s like arguing a players HOF credentials, and picking out his 2 or 3 All Star years, while avoiding the lackluster numbers of the rest of his long career.

    • Redsvol

      Agree with much of this thread. You can’t run a national sports league with local media contracts and expect to have competitive balance. In the NFL, a well run team from a small market can compete and beat a team like the Dallas Cowboys every year. In the NBA, the Utah Jazz can compete and beat the Lakers and Knicks (however the mega players are starting to force their way out of smaller markets when their team doesn’t win which is starting to tip the balance).

      In MLB, the owners need to commit to a true national media rights contract. Its true there are a few small market teams making the playoffs (bless em) occasionally – and very rarely the World Series – but its almost a guarantee that teams like the Dodgers and Yankees will make playoffs annually. Playoffs shouldn’t be a guarantee based on your size. It should require shrewd player acquisition, development and management. Until the league adopts real national media rights – which by definition is revenue sharing – MLB will continue to be a league of haves and have-nots.

      And isn’t it much more interesting and challenging being a fan of one of the have-nots?

  7. SultanofSwaff

    Hopefully we get a season soon. I can’t wait for the tidal wave of trades and signings that will follow. An entire hot stove winter compressed into a couple weeks–glorious!

  8. KYpodman

    Baseball is done unless both sides get smart and follow the NFL structure for contracts. It does not take rocket science to determine that MLB is now behind the NFL and it is their contract structuring that has gotten them there. The ability to release players “at will” and only deal with dead money or cap space issues is what makes the NFL competitive. The players still get their signing bonuses if released.

    • Doug Gray

      The NFL has been the most popular sport in America since 1982. It’s got nothing at all to do with the contract structuring.

      MLB has been more competitive than the NFL over the last 20 years. More champions. More championship game/series participants.

      • Stock

        because the NFL is so strongly dependent upon the QB. In baseball no one player can be instrumental to taking the team to the WS.

      • BK

        The NFL and NBA are now structured in a way that balances the interests of owners, players and fans. The structure aligns the players and owners to where they work collectively to grow their games. There is almost never CBA talk on NFL or NBA sites anymore. It’s a constant, ominous cloud hanging over MLB.

        As to competition, over the last 10 years 13 different MLB franchises have made it to the World Series, but 15 of those 20 participants came from the league’s top 12 teams in terms of market value. The disparity in team’s resources absolutely makes a difference in outcomes and sadly the disparity is growing not narrowing. Expect the NFL to add significant difference to its growth over MLB in the next 10 years and the outdated structure of the CBA will be a major cause.

      • BK

        One more point, when is the last time a team rated at #29 (of 32; this is where ESPN and many betting sites had the Bengals at the start of the 2021 season) went to a World Series? That kind of parity is a huge advantage to the NFL.

  9. Bob Purkey

    Millionaires vs Billionaires – my heart weeps for them all. Baseball is walking slowly but surely to a very high cliff. They have already lost a generation and a half from following the game.

    The more gimmicks they insert makes it worse. Now DH in both leagues. . .and they are worried about “pace of play?” just look at the time of games between the NL and AL now and see what that is going to do to “pace of play” in the NL.

    Next, we’ll get outlawing the shift because many players are frustrated that the DEFENSE stations players where opponents constantly hit the ball, and OMG. . .not where they don’t.

    The game has become BORING . . .HR or K only. Nobody steals bases. Hit and run – what is that.

    I am off of my soapbox now. But baseball has problems and when they are losing fans like me, they are in trouble, but they just don’t seem to know it!

    • Chris

      I agree with the first two paragraphs, but the next two completely contradict each other. The switch is destroying the game, and is ultimately causing the HR, K, BB scenario. The switch is completely unfair to left handed hitters. Maybe you like watching Joey Votto line out to the rover in short right field, but for me, that is an addition to MLB that the so-called lost generation never had to witness. Overall though, I do agree; baseball has huge problems.

      • Bob Purkey

        Chris: I don’t like the shift either, but the shift is a result of players that can’t put the ball in play anywhere but one area (historically pull hitters). You don’t penalize the defense because of someone’s offensive inability.

        I am being VERY sarcastic here. . .but if a player can’t hit a slider, do you make the pitcher throw nothing but fastballs so we see more base hits? Do you give a basketball player wide open shots and not guard him/her because they can’t make a shot when guarded closely?

        Blaming someone else for your own inability to do something seems contrary to the idea of sport

      • Bob Purkey

        Chris: You know what beats the shift? Putting guys on base. You put the ball in play, get runners on 2nd and/or 3rd and the shift goes away.

        I have said this before, they shifted on Ted Williams all day long and he still hit .360+ every year. I certainly won’t compare anybody to the great Ted Williams, but I get tired of we can only play the game the way certain players want because they can’t do it any other way.

      • greenmtred

        Bob: I’m in general agreement with your point. But my understanding is that The Splendid Splinter beat the shift by hitting into it, not by going to left.

  10. Jimbo44CN

    I am an old guy who hates the shift and the Universal DH. But I agree the pace of the game is horrendous. That is why I almost never watch a game live, but record them so I can zip through the ridiculous amount of time it takes for hitters to actually get in the box and hit as well as it takes some pitchers way too long to pitch. Give me a guy like Mark Buerhle any day. The game moves, the players are all on their toes and games don’t last 4 hours. Also, I think the players demands are ridiculous, with the most being their suggested playoff format of one team getting a ghost win. Come on, what’s next, the two best gamers from each team going at it on Xbox?

    • old-school

      Jimbo. You had mark Buerhle.

      His name is Wade Miley and the Reds let him go on waivers.
      A guy who could blitz thru 7 innings on 78 pitches in 100 minutes.
      Contrast that with Sonny Gray giving you 5 1/3 innings on 93 pitches or Jeff Hoffman laboring through 3 and 1/3 innings and 80 pitches.

      • Jimbo44CN

        You are so right. Somehow I forgot about Wade. Another great pitcher and I agree, one the Reds should have never let go.

  11. Optimist

    I’m paraphrasing, but the great Jim Kaat was asked why he worked so fast on the mound, and he replied that he couldn’t wait to see what happened. Go over to BRef and take a look at some random length of games – a lot of 2:01, 2:23 and a few 1:56 and 1:49s. Most everything over 3 hours was extra innings.

    • Optimist

      BRef for games in the 1950s and 60s that is.

      • Alex

        Per Jeff passan, what happens to the game if you subbed in the next best 1200 baseball players? And than what happens to the game if you brought in the next 30 billionaires? One changes literally everything, the other changes nothing.

  12. Old-school

    Jon heyman reporting 2 tiered offer from MLB
    One based on 14 team playoff and one not.

    Again…heyman credibility….. but it does appear mlb is willing to give up something if 14 team playoff and the Reds need a 14 team playoff for hope so I’m all for players getting more if Reds get a 7 team NL playoff.

    • Redsvol

      it does seem like something will get done within the next week. The owners don’t care about early April games and their is enough off days in the schedule to make up 5 or so missed games.

      Owners have significantly increased offer on minimum salary and pre-arb bonus pool. They aren’t going to allow earlier free agency and they aren’t going to raise the CBT by 20-30% which is what Scott Boras (i.e. the union executive committee) wants.

      The players have gotten major movement on minimum salary, pre-arb. bonus pool, elimination of the free agent draft pick compensation, the DH, a draft lottery to punish the Pirates, and a host of other minor improvements too numerous to mention. Time for them to agree to some “beautification of the game” enhancements, sign the contract and report to spring training. Otherwise, just skip the whole thing and we will lobby the NCAA to extend college baseball into July and the NFL to start play in August.

  13. Stock

    There is really only one major issue here. What is the line for the luxury tax. Everything else is just an allocation issue. The luxury tax caps the spending of 5-10 teams.

    The first major move on luxury cap has been made by the owners. They increased their proposal in all 5 years: by 2.8% in 2022 and 2023, 1.9% in 2024, 2.8% in 2025 and 3.6% in 2026. The owners also dropped their penalties for going over the luxury tax. Both of these concessions are the first major concessions of the negotiations. Hopefully the players will counter this and the lockout will end. I would love to see the player counter with 230 and a 14 team playoff have the owners come back with 227.5 and a 14 team playoff and end the lockout. Every other issue is very minor in my mind as it is nothing more than an allocation issue.

    The players dropped their super 2 proposal. But to be clear this is nothing more than an allocation issue.

    • Stock

      And maybe the players are waking up and realizing this is an allocation issue that is not good for the game nor the players.

  14. Stock

    One other major issue is service time until free agency. But I have heard nothing on this in the past week or so. This may mean players have decided not to pursue this but I have no idea.