Major League Baseball owners leaked all kinds of “we’re getting close to a deal” propaganda last night, while players were saying a lot more quietly that while they had gotten closer that they were still far apart on multiple key aspects. That messaging from the players got buried a bit.

The two sides continued their meetings today and while a little more progress was made, Major League Baseball said their “final and best offer” was coming at 3:30pm ET, with a 5pm ET “deadline” before they would start cancelling regular season games (something that they can’t actually do as the length of the season is a part of the CBA and requires both sides to agree on it). After receiving “the best” offer, the Major League Baseball Players Association player leads agreed unanimously to turn it down according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

There were several areas where the two sides simply couldn’t get close enough to continue talks, apparently.

The Luxury Tax threshold gap was simply too large.

Players Want Owners Want
2022 $238M $220M
2023 $244M $220M
2024 $250M $220M
2025 $256M $224M
2026 $263M $230M

If the luxury tax threshold had remained constant with revenues since it was first implemented 20 years ago it would be well over $300M today. But it hasn’t. Last season only two teams went over it – the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.

The minimum salary did get some movement today. The owners offered to raise it to $675,000 while the players were asking $725,000. Quick math here suggests that if 10 roster spots are going to a player making the league minimum that over the entire course of the CBA this would increase spending by $2.5M per team.

Fighting for the pre-arbitration players didn’t just stop at a higher minimum salary, though. There was also the pre-arb bonus pool that would go to a specific number of pre-arbitration players based on their WAR. At different points that was for 30 players, then it was 150 players. Either way, the pool money was going to be shared among that group. Ownership offered up a $30M bonus pool to be split up among the best players who had not yet reached arbitration yet (players with more than 3 years of service time who were making the league minimum). The players last offer was for that pool to start at $85M with a $5M increase each year. Past reports suggest that money would come from the MLB central fund, so each team would pay into that the same amount rather than it be paid out individually by team (which, in theory, could cost some teams more than others).

The owners of every team basically agreed to spend about $1.1M extra a year on player salaries and then another $1M to pay into the bonus pool. $2M per team. And teams actually don’t even have to increase payroll by anything here, either. They could simply not sign some free agent they had planned to for $2.7M, replace they player with a rookie making the new league minimum, and their payroll is exactly the game – the money is just shuffled around differently.

As of now there are no scheduled future meetings between the two sides. In his 5pm ET press conference, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that he will cancel the first two series of the regular season.

Let’s also be very clear here: Baseball is not happening because the owners don’t want it to. They could lift the lockout right now and baseball would go on under the last collective bargaining agreement rules, with the exception of the luxury tax threshold as that was written in to “sunset” when the previous one ended.

84 Responses

  1. Indyred

    It has become painfully clear between the 2020 covid shut down where the owners only wanted 60-ish games and refuse to agree to anything until they got to that point, to this recent negotiation that the owners do not care at all about the regular season, only TV rights and playoff money. You hear all the time about how MLB wants to attract fans but everything they do is counter to that, and right now how many fans are basically saying screw baseball? I know of at least one

  2. SteveLV

    Doug – haven’t paid attention to this, but your luxury tax lists 5 years. Is this intended to be a 5 year deal? Both sides agree on the term?

    In my mind, the owners pretty much win if they take what the players are offering, let alone what they are offering. And I think the owners will probably get a deal that is closer to their offer than the players. Would have thought the owners would have wanted more than a 5 year deal.

    Regardless, if you have listed the major points of contention, the difference between these offers hardly seems worth the damage they are doing.

    • TR

      I doubt the owners and their Commissioner are aware of the damage.

      • greenmtred

        You’re very likely right TR. They aren’t aware of it because the damage is, so far, largely theoretical. Unhappy fans and the absence of younger fans only become issues when the money starts to dry up.

    • Indyred

      Piggybacking on this question, why do the owners really care what the luxury tax threshold is? 95% of them won’t go over it anyway, and most are perfectly happy staying in the 120 million or under category. Make it a billion, you think that’s going to make the pirates or rays or reds go anywhere near it? They don’t now when it’s 200 million or whatever. They’re going to spend what they want to spend and pocket the rest so who really cares what the top amount is. It’s just a made-up number that they never have had any intention of spending anyway

      • VaRedsFan

        Because then 6-8 teams will be allowed to get an even bigger advantage over the majority of the teams that can’t afford it.

      • Indyred

        Yes, it would make teams like the Yankees or dodgers be able to spend whatever they want but they pretty much do now. Owners don’t care how much the Yankees or dodgers spend. Just how much goes into their pocket. They’re perfectly fine letting them spend whatever they want as long as it doesn’t affect their bottom line so it would be the same. If they really wanted the league to be even, there would not only be a salary cap but a floor so a team couldn’t spend $40 million on their payroll while other teams spend $300 million. I’m sure if the league came out and said we can only do 220 million for the luxury cap, but every team will spend at least $100 million on player salaries the players would look at that differently. But just because three to four teams might spend 300 million and then others are in the 40 to 50 million range and pocket profit sharing money instead of spending it on players doesn’t mean that’s a good deal for the players or the league. Owners don’t care if they have any chance for the playoffs just what they’re going to put in their pockets at the end of the season whether that’s through profit sharing or whatever. If they cared about the top revenue teams being able to outspend them they would have put something in place to fix that a long time ago, they don’t and that’s pretty obvious that they don’t

      • BK

        @Indy, you’re missing the point. When a handful of teams consistently leverage their financial advantage it inflates the cost of talent for ALL teams. Some teams have more than twice as much money as other teams to spend on payroll (MLB salary/player development). This puts smaller market teams at a disadvantage year after year. The rising CBT favors larger market teams, elite talent and player agents.

        FWIW, the first reported offer from the Owners last summer included a salary cap and floor of $180M and $100M respectively–just as you suggested.

      • VaRedsFan

        @BK…correct sir.
        It shouldn’t be about what’s good for one side or the other, but what’s best for the game.
        Owners last summer included a salary cap and floor of $180M and $100M respectively.
        That seems like something that is good for the league, and the players would have none of it.

      • ClevelandRedsFan


        The owners proposed exactly that. They proposed a 100 million floor and 180 million cap. Players rejected it immediately.

      • Indyred

        @BK, and everyone else I’m sorry of anything has come across as rude or disrespectful because it was not meant to be. This whole situation has just triggered me in a way I normally don’t get triggered, as I’m sure a lot of you have been. But if the owners were really worried about the evenness of the league they would have done something to fix it. But they don’t. Teams like the rays and pirates just take their profit sharing money and put it in their pocket. If they really wanted to address the disparity between teams like the Yankees or dodgers, and the rays and pirates or any other team crying poor they would have done something to fix it in my opinion. But they have done absolutely nothing so obviously they are okay with it. Everything I have read or seen has basically been the owners will agree to this because they can cut something else out and their total cost is the same. Which makes sense in a business point of view but as a fan of a sport or team it is losing them a lot of fans. The way the system is now favors the Yankees and dodgers, and incentivizes teams that can’t spend 200 plus million per season to just go for 50 million and pocket the difference. That’s what needs fixed, and I don’t blame the players for that. Take what you can get when you can get it and if that’s with the high revenue teams that’s where they go now. So unless the owners want to actually change the game and spending it’s all just a smoke show to try to claim poor that we can’t afford to pay players because we are small market, even though I could sell my team tomorrow for over a billion dollars

      • Indyred

        Also to add though, average team payroll last year was like $104 million, so you’d cut down Yankees, dodgers, etc payroll and raise pirates, rays. I would bet it would end up basically the same amount or pretty close. Owners lose nothing as a whole. You would however spread out the players over more teams making the entire league better in my opinion. Having every team have a chance would do a world of difference for the league. But the owners would still probably pay roughly the same amount, but you wouldn’t players getting 40 million a year for one guy because you couldn’t build a team with that. So either way to me the owners would come out ahead on that. It would reduce the top free agency deals because then they could say they can’t pay that money because of the cap.

      • Old-school

        @ Indy
        Glad to hear from you and you were correct on Adam Duvall.

        Disagree on lumping owners together. I dont care about the ny mets or yankees or Dodgers. I care about Reds. The small market v big market is real and steve cohen Mets is not Bob Castellini.

        The dodgers can pay trevor bauer $35 mil a year and Clayton Kirschauer $30 mil a year who both Exit early and pick up injured Danny Duffy $10 mil and pujols dead contract at 8 figures and write off $60 mil to perpetually injured AJ Pollock and write off $17 mil to .165 hitting Cody Bellinger…. And just give $350 mil to mookie betts and trade for $38 mil Scherzer and Trae turner and still make the playoffs every year

        The Reds cant overcome Shogo and Moose underperformance and Senzel injuries and no shortstop plan and suarez just swinging for bombs and jeff Hoffman and Amir Garrett awfulness and Antone injury

        I dont enable Reds FO or ownership for its pathetic bullpen roster construction or other bad decisions

        But comparing the Reds path to a playoff with its payroll and roster construction limitations vsmets/dodgers/yankees/houston/sf etc is apples and oranges

        The good news is the Akiyama contract and moose contracts have a clock ticking

      • Hotto4Votto

        Indy, I actually feel ya on the “if the owners cared” point. There’s a fairly soft cap set by the luxury tax but only two teams went past it last season. Many teams, like the Reds, set their budgets with no thoughts of ever even approaching it but only what was assured to be profitable for them. Regardless of where the luxury tax is set, almost every team will operate the same as they have for a long time.
        I get the inflation of players salaries point as well, but the Reds (or other small market teams) aren’t getting in bidding wars for the top FA’s and honestly don’t really do much in FA historically. It’s much better to go down the path of draft, international scouting, and development for the Reds, which will always keep payroll manageable. This should be regardless of where the tax is set (and I do think it should be much more reflective of revenue growth) or what other owners spend.

      • BK

        @Indy, you are definitely not rude and like you, we are all justifiably incensed that MLB can’t get out of its own way. It is incredible with the amount of money available, that the two sides continue to ask the fans to bear with them while they work it out.

  3. Optimist

    I was pretty firmly on the player’s side but if these reports are accurate (and note Alex Wood’s comment) this is getting into owners are stupid territory. That’s even worse than owners are greedy.

    Unless there are undisclosed included inflation adjustments, the owners should be taking this offer and running away. Buy low here and enjoy 5 years of above average inflation.

    • Indyred

      @ old school, I agree. Obviously the reds don’t have the spending power or revenue of Yankees, dodgers, etc. But that’s also my point, if the owners were concerned about it they would have fixed it but they don’t care how competitive they are, only the cash they’re gonna get in their pockets. I hate the way it is set up now where Yankees dodgers etc can just spend whatever they want like you described. But the owners are obviously fine with it. But if you are an owner and you are fine with the way it is set up now where you are the reds and you know you can’t spend more than 100 million on payroll, why would you care if the limit was 250 million? The high revenue teams can go over it whenever they want now and just pay the penalties because that doesn’t matter to them. Everyone else will never get close to it where it will ever affect them. So as an ownership group if you’re all okay with that, how can you be opposed to raising the tax threshold? You already don’t care because you’ve done nothing to try to level the playing field between you the way it set up now. But now you’re just losing fans for what? Because you don’t want to pay an extra $25k minimum salary. I was also just trying to make a point that the players rejecting the 180 cap and 100 floor wasn’t really a win for them to start with. If the pirates raise their payroll to $100, but the dodgers cut theirs by 50 million to get to 180 there’s no net gain for the players. The average team salary was 104 million, I very seriously doubt it would go very far from that if the 180/100 cap was agreed to so there would be no gain really for the players. But all that extra money from the TV contract and local TV contract is going in the owner’s pocket

  4. Rut

    I know that this site is pretty dedicated on not allowing anything that it feels is vulgar… but fact is, at this point, the most accurate term to describe what has happened (other than “predictable”) is “$h!t$how”

  5. Jimbo44CN

    Great. Just great. There goes my opening week plans. I am beginning to hate both sides. Greed, greed everywhere and not a game to be played. I am going to go and watch some Legion or High School ball. At least they are playing for the love of the game.

  6. VaRedsFan

    The minimum salary proposed was 700K, not 675K. The poor players…how will they survive?

    • Indyred

      While I agree with you to a point, how about the poor billionaires who couldn’t pay an extra $25k for a few players on their team? Poor BILLIONAIRES, how could they be expected to make ends meet paying that kind of outlandish money to the people who actually have fans that want to watch them or come to a game? I know zero people who have ever bought a Jersey with an owner’s name on it, most people don’t even know who the owner of the team is. Poor poor billionaires

      • VaRedsFan

        Well, because the 700K represented a 13% increase in salary. That sounds pretty good to me for the lowest guys on the rung.

      • Indyred

        I agree that 13% raise to me right now would be awesome LOL. But if that’s something holding it up and billionaires can’t come up with 25,000 for the handful of people they have on the team that make that, to me that comes across as incredibly greedy. Players have a finite time of being able to play the game, owners can make millions upon millions every year indefinitely. At some point it would be nice if they could realize how out of touch they were with what normal people make per year. Would an extra 100K a year bankrupt a billionaire? If so you got bigger problems then that. I don’t really like the arbitration process now personally, a guy gets 5 million this year based off what he did, then completely and totally sucks and still gets a raise. If it’s supposed to be based off what they’ve done why would you get a raise for sucking at your job? But arbitration numbers never go down only up. And I’m on the player side in this

      • Redsvol

        actually @Indy and @VARedsfan, the minimum salary in 2021 was 570,000. The owners last offer was $700K – so really the lowest paid guys on the roster would be getting a 22-23% raise from the last year of previous CBA. Seems like a really good deal for about 10 guys on each roster – which amounts to 38% of the average major league roster.

        From a true union perspective, if you got 38% of your union members a 23% raise (not to mention all the other goodies they would get), you should really pat yourself on the back and go to work. But alas, the MLBPA leadership isn’t really there for those 38% of their members, they are there for the 1% of their members who want to earn $50 million per year instead of $40 million on their next contract – the Max Scherzer’s and Gerrit Cole’s. Not really a Union that works for the bulk of their members at all.

      • greenmtred

        It has been said before, but there is a context for players’ salaries that applies to few other occupations, including MLB owners: Length of career. $700,00- a year looks very different to somebody with a five year earning window than it does to somebody who will likely have a career that spans twenty or more years.

      • Doug Gray

        Not just that, it also comes on the back of probably 5-8 years of making less than $10,000 a year in the same job (in the minors).

    • Indyred

      @bk – thank you, I was not trying to be rude at all but sometimes it’s easy for stuff to sound wrong on a message board lol. It’s so aggravating because I like a lot of other people probably went to sleep yesterday reading the stories they could have an agreement today to the crap that happened.
      Also – hotto4votto (love the name) that was what I was getting at. It doesn’t matter what the limit is, make it a billion, the reds or pirates won’t spend any more money than what they planned on anyway. The teams like the Yankees and dodgers don’t care if they go over it because they can afford it

  7. Magnum 44

    I was listening to Chris Mad Dog Russo on the way home I don’t care who is wrong or right but it sounds like the owners have given on 7 of the 10 major sticking points. Who really cares though? All I know is the fans we see it in the backend higher ticket prices by the end of this you will have to pay premium on spectrum to watch Reds games. Which is fine I have cut the cord after last season and I loathed going back to spectrum to watch games.

  8. LDS

    This is posturing by the league & owners. They never intended to make a deal. They are simply trying to gain the PR advantage. Most people don’t follow it closely, see rich players vote no, and now no baseball and of course the league narrative will be it’s the players’ fault, despite there being no meetings at all for a couple of months. A complete lack of respect for the fans and for the game itself.

    • Indyred

      This guy gets it. Billionaires crying poor, locked out since December 1st and start negotiating February 21st. Pretty obvious the owners wanted a delay to save the player salaries for lost games. Money is in the playoffs and TV rights, screw the fan.

  9. Broseph

    I suppose I fall in between the two sides at this point. I think Arb players should get paid. Years 3-6 can be a players prime or start of their prime and their impact on teams should be rewarded.

    Rookies though, you give me $80k to play my first year in the MLB and I say “Where you want me coach?” $500k is not pocket chance at 22-25 years old. $675k is pretty good living.

    The thing most concerning about all this is once the sides are content on how much money they’ll be swimming in for the next 5 years, we’re still stuck with a slow, two-outcome game that has gotten predictable, stale and long

    • Indyred

      This is the bigger problem. It’s HR, SO and that’s it. Well, the third outcome would be a ground ball into the shift because why try to “hit it where the ain’t”? Rickey Henderson would be lucky to get 20 steals a season now and he would get ripped for doing it

    • JayTheRed

      I agree here. At no time have I heard anything about what the sides plan on doing to help fix the actual game. Makes me pretty sick, and honestly I feel like both sides are to blame for this mess.

  10. MK

    At the Commissioner’s press conference he said at no time was the phrase “final and best offer” ever uttered by the owners side.

  11. Bdh

    Sad time for a sport that has already been losing popularity. Players every bit as much to blame here

  12. Tar Heel Red

    It is painfully obvious from the player union press conference that they felt betrayed by the lockout and have no intention of agreeing to anything other than increased payrolls, meaning more and more money for them. The owners are right to demand the CBT stays as low as possible, if for no other reason than to protect the small market clubs.

    The players contention that raising the CBT would allow for a more competitive game is mere foolishness. The whole thing boils down to mind over matter…the players don’t mind taking even more money from the large market teams and the small market teams (and fans) don’t matter

    • Redsvol

      Bravo @TarheelRed! Someone who gets it!

    • JayTheRed

      Honestly the more I hear from the players union and the owners. I think baseball needs to create two new leagues. The Rich League and the Poor League. Do realignment in the divisions based on the past 5 years of salary spent and geographical closeness to make the two new leagues.

  13. Stock

    So many posters are assuming MLB owners are making money each year. My guess is 50% of the teams lost money in 2020 and I believe the Reds lost money again in 2021.

  14. Stock

    I hear many people say they are on the owners side.

    I hear many people say they are on the players side.

    I, and several others who posted are on what is best for the game side. In other words the FANS side.

  15. Stock

    Why is baseball losing popularity?

    I have lost a lot of my desire to watch Reds games because they can’t win. Small market teams are at a huge disadvantage and need to shoot for a window of opportunity. Part of the problem is that Reds fans are cursed with an owner who can’t keep his hands out of the decision making process.

    The problem with baseball is with one exception small market teams look for a window of opportunity and unfortunately it is a small basement window. Meanwhile, the Dodgers and Yankees have the huge window on the first floor and even in their down years have a bathroom window. They just don’t know what it is like to have to look out from the basement window.

  16. Stock

    Why am I hoping the owners don’t back down? Because I would like to someday go upstairs and look out the big window in my house. But I would settle for the bathroom window.

    And with the players proposal I fear that my basement window to look out of on occasion will turn into a block window and I will never see out of it again.

    • Redsvol

      I feel you @Stock. 50% of the teams don’t really have a chance. A couple luck out and make the playoffs and once every 50 years one of them wins the World Series but they are an anomaly. And it doesn’t/shouldn’t have to be that way. The current pay structure tips the balance toward the 4-6 teams that have huge regional media contracts. These need to be phased out and a true revenue sharing model where all teams get the same % of nation media money and the players get a certain % of it. If national revenue goes up, the players get more. It obviously works – the NFL and NBA use their focus every year to improve the style of play of their respective games in an effort to improve the product.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Am I insane or did the Atlanta Braves just win the World Series with a payroll of $115,000,000?

        Didn’t the Brewers just win the division with a payroll of $80,000,000?

        Didn’t Tampa Bay just win their division with a payroll of $45,000,000?

        Didn’t the White Sox just win their division with a payroll of $125,000,000?

        Every team in baseball can make a $125,000,000 payroll if they wanted to. A lot just choose not to.

      • Redsvol

        Yes, it’s possible to make the playoffs without luxury tax payrolls. But the world series winners the last 20 years are dominated by the tax paying and large market teams.

        The Braves final payroll in 2021 was $145 million per fangraphs. A very challenging number for most Teams unless they have 2 million attendance and a very good revenue from regional media rights.

      • Stock

        Frankie Tomatoes, I went to sporttrac and matched your numbers to their numbers and I have to say I disagree with their numbers. It says the Reds payroll in 2021 was $84 million. Reality is it was about $122 million.

        2022 payrolls: Atlanta – 125 million but no Freeman yet. White Sox – $175 million. Rays – $74 million. Milwaukee $112 million.

        What is similar about all these teams? They produced young talent that is pre-FA and are in their Window.

        Atlanta and Chicago are big markets so they can afford larger payrolls as players hit FA. Both team were smart enough to sign their stars up to long term contract early as a means of reducing long term payroll.

        It will be interesting to see what happens in Milwaukee when their stars hit FA. My guess is they will need to rebuild and their great job in this build may go for naught because like the Reds of 2010 – 2012 they may not make the WS.

        Tampa Bay is the exception. Great management.

        In short every team can go into rebuild and create a window. But only the well run large market teams have a window big window on the first floor that seemingly sees forever.

      • Old Big Ed

        Not sure where you got your payroll numbers, Frankie. Sportrac has a comprehensive list ( for each year, and it includes things like the Bobby Bonilla contract.

        It shows the Braves with $153mm in total payroll, but breaks it down. $115mm is for guys on the 26-man roster (I suppose as of the day after the season ended); $3.3mm for players on the IL; $17.8mm for “retained” payroll (for guys released, bought out, or traded); and $8.9mm for “buried” (meaning guys, such as on the 40-man, with MLB earnings but in the minors).

        The Brewers had a total payroll of $99 million, or $26 million less than the Reds. The Brewers are owned by a hedge fund operator, Mark Attanasio and his partners, who are extremely savvy financially. The Castellini and Williams families are … not so much. Tampa Bay’s total payroll was $70.8mm, but the Rays are the best run team (financially) in the business. The total payroll for the White Sox was $140.9mm.

        You are certainly right that teams can compete, now, at a $125mm/year, but they can’t do that by giving out 4 years and $64mm to the likes of Mike Moustakas and evaporating $24mm on Shogo Akiyama. The Rays don’t make those mistakes; they are the best at amateur scouting and development, and they ruthlessly shed players over 30 years old.

        When the Yankees learn the Rays’ discipline – and they are starting to get there – then they will be unstoppable. The Sportrac numbers are a bit eye-opening in that regard. The Yankees come in 18th in “Retained” payments (to guys like the released Chris Davis), at only $12mm; the Reds were a solid 27th, at $4.2mm; and the Dodgers are at about $5mm, although it remains to be seen what becomes of Trevor Bauer. So, the two big powerhouses in NY and LA pretty much don’t have any dead wood anymore, and ought to be able to go on sustained runs.

  17. CI3J

    I think the Luxury Tax argument is moot if there isn’t also a salary floor. I think the best move for the competitiveness of the game and to ensure the owners are investing into the team like they should is to set a certain amount of money that owners HAVE to spend each year on player salaries. It’s absolutely ridiculous that a team like the Pirates or Orioles can spend $30 million on player salaries while teams like the Mets are spending nearly 10x that.

    A salary floor needs to be set at about $115 million (that’s the average) with a luxury tax threshold like what the players suggested. Also, owners of teams who receive that luxury tax money MUST re-invest that into player salaries, thus effectively raising the salary floor each year depending on what the big spenders do. So if you have teams like the Mets and Dodgers who want to spend over the threshold, that’s fine, but it also increases the salaries of players on all other teams.

    I’m sick of owners pocketing money and treating their teams like cash cows instead of honoring the fans and trying to put a fun, competitive product on the field. The Cincinnati Reds, as a franchise, are valued at over a billion dollars. They are making $250 million+ per year. Enough of this “align payroll to resources” crap, spend the money you are earning and put a competitive product on the field. I’m sure Big Bob will be just fine if he can take home “only” $50 million a year from owning a sports franchise.

    With a salary floor, suddenly scouting and player development becomes a lot more important, because you HAVE to spend the money, so if you spend it wisely, you have a chance to make even MORE money due to gate and playoff money.

    My proposal: Take the players’ Luxury Tax numbers, and also add a Salary Floor that is also constantly rising with the expected rise in revenue. The owners are enjoying the fruits of their appreciating “assets”, while the players have actually been moving backwards:

    The average MLB player salary has fallen 6.4 percent since the start of the 2017 season, when it peaked at $4.45 million, according to a study of major league contracts by The Associated Press. The salary downturn is yet another sign baseball could be headed toward labor strife and a possible work stoppage in 2022.

    Baseball’s middle class has borne the brunt of the drop. The median salary — the point at which an equal number of players are above and below — is $1.15 million, down 18 percent from $1.4 million two years ago and a drop of 30 percent from the $1.65 million record high at the start of 2015.

    Of 902 players on opening-day rosters, 417 (62 percent) had salaries under $1 million, including 316 (35 percent) under $600,000.

    Enough. It’s time for the owners to share the bounty with both the players AND THE FANS in the form of competitive teams on the fields.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Right on. I can get behind this.

    • Old Big Ed

      The Reds do not “make” $250 million a year. If they did, they would be worth about $2 billion, if not more.

      It isn’t all that hard to do a back-of-the envelope calculation on this. They make about $60 million from national TV deals, and about $40 million from local deals. With 1.8 million attendance at $30 net revenue/ticket, they bring in about another $55 million. And they get some other odds and ends of revenue, including mainly revenue shared from teams in larger urban areas.

      But their baseball payroll last year was $125 million; they have to pay their coaches; they have front-office administrative expenses for HR, analytics, accounting, management, etc.; they have to pay international and draft bonuses to amateurs of roughly $15 million; they have to run their MiLB operation that includes (paltry) wages to players, wages of coaches, and travel; they have extensive insurance obligations on workers comp, general liability, medical, etc.; they have rent payments on GABP and Goodyear.

      They aren’t making $250 million a year, or anywhere close to it.

    • BK

      You’re conflating revenue (sales) with profit (what someone makes). These are not the same thing. Forbes reports revenue and operating income for each team annually. Operating Income is a good metric for comparing similar firms within an industry. It excludes several expenses (interest, depreciation, amortization and taxes) that ultimately determine a firm’s net income (loss). The Reds CEO has long stated he operates the Reds on a break-even basis. The Forbes data supports this claim with the exception of the year the Reds received their share of BAMTECH sale. I believe that one-time gain was likely distributed among the 30 or so individuals that own the Reds.

      Baseball is a game. If you and I were to meet weekly to play Monopoly, I think you would quickly lose interest if I demanded that you start each game with one-third of the money I have. That’s essentially where the game is now. If we were in business and believed we needed to move to NYC to better compete with a competitor, we’d be free to pick up our bootstraps and move. The Reds can’t pick up their bootstraps and move to LA or NYC–it’s against the rules.

      P.S. the Owners initial offer included a Salary Floor as you suggested, paired with a lower CBT (luxury tax) level. MLBPA didn’t bite.

      • CI3J

        I know the owners original offer included a salary floor. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was their absurdly low luxury tax threshold, which would depress player salaries as teams tried to avoid going over it.

        If the owners had proposed an increasing salary floor with the luxury tax structure players have put forth, I’m sure players would be tripping over themselves to agree with it.

        It was a lowball offer from the owners and you know it.

  18. Votto4life

    I support the players in this fight, however with the pandemic still with us, people struggling to keep up with inflation and the world on the verge of war, it’s kinda hard to support either side.

    • Brian Rutherford

      +1,000,000. I will miss baseball but it hasn’t felt like the Reds had a chance to be regularly competitive since the earl 2000’s. They have had a window when Votto, Bruce, Homer and other young starts were all on good contracts but they eventually got priced out of the Reds market and now we are hoping for another miracle to happen where all of our young players are great at the same time so we may have a chance at success. Something has to happen or all of these lost decades will finally erode the fan base to nothing. There is a reason why most of the folks commenting on this blog are older folks.

  19. RedlegsUnite

    Players are the skilled laborers that we all love to watch. I am glad their union is showing solidarity and I hope they can bargain for fair turns.
    Also: please subscribe to doug’s patreon account–writers are part of the game and are collateral damage of the owners’ greed

  20. Klugo

    How do advertising partners involved in the TV Deals that apparently make up such a large chunk of the revenue the owners care about feel when games are cancelled and they dont get what they bargained for?

    • Old Big Ed

      They get rebates from the team.

      • Klugo

        So, if this is true ( I cant tell if youre kidding or not), the owners lose money, too?

  21. Alex

    The hidden reality for fans of the Reds, and really most fans, is the vast majority of these teams are simply not well run. You can blame money for why the Reds don’t compete but big Bob having the yanks money to spend wouldn’t mean much. Cause it’s big Bob picking the players. Look at the Angels, those owners spend money, have two generational talents, one that pitches and hits, and they still suck.

    Does money play a roll for the dodgers, absolutely. But the reality is, the way they sign, draft, trade and develop talent is just in a diff stratosphere than the Reds.
    Thus, the adorable 14 team tournament that will accompany the now pointless regular season.

    You see, back in my day, the owners wanted to compete, the “small markets” didn’t complain about disadvantages, they picked themselves up by the bootstraps and did what it took. Now these new snowflake owners complain about how bad they have it and how much revenue sharing help they need. “Oh, let’s lower the playoff threshold to a laughable level that my team that’s 5 games under .500 can still sucker fans in with higher ticket prices.” They don’t make billionaires like they used to.

    • Old Big Ed

      Well, “back in the day” there was no free agency at all, and the team the player’s rights until it didn’t want those rights anymore. The Big Red Machine would have been together for maybe a year under today’s rules. Pete Rose and Joe Morgan would have been free agents by about 1970, and Johnny Bench would have been gone after 1973.

      And the Yankees used teams like the Athletics to develop their players. Before the 1960 season, the Yankees traded Hank Bauer (37 years old), Don Larsen (fresh off a 84 ERA+ season), Norm Siebern (young and useful) and Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who was young and not useful, all for Roger Maris, who was American League MVP the next two seasons for the Yankees. So, even in the “day,” the Yankees used their financial clout to acquire the better players, with the difference being that the Athletics’ owner, not Maris himself, garnered the benefit of Maris’s value to the Yankees.

      Good luck getting the players agreeing to go back to that.

    • greenmtred

      First, I hate to think that it isn’t still my day, but back in my day, when there were eight teams in each league and no playoffs, there didn’t seem to be much more competitive balance than there is now. The Yankees won the AL, and the Dodgers or Giants–still East Coast teams–often won the NL, or so it seemed. The Senators, A’s, Phillies and Cubs had to be lovable, because they were losers. The A’s, in Kansas city, functioned as a de facto Yankee farm team. This situation and its 2020 version are the logical and predictable result of the relatively free market. That may be fine, but this is its result.

  22. Luke J

    Let’s also be very clear hear: every single time baseball is played after a CBA has expired, the players have went on strike. And they chose to go on strike in the middle of a season every single time except one.

    It is 100% disingenuous to claim the owners’ lockout is the reason why there is no baseball right now. If the players did not strike immediately (why wouldn’t they? After all, the previous CBA is so terrible for them according to their position), then history says they would 100% strike in the middle of the season. Which would cause far more damage to the sport than a lockout ever would.

    You spout this rhetoric in every single article you write on this issue. And it makes me sick how intentionally deceptive you are.

    • Michael


      100% disingenuous? If there was not a lockout currently the players would be in spring training playing games. A strike would be a real possibility in season but it is disingenuous to say the owners locking out the players is not the reason we do not have baseball at this moment.

      Why on gods green earth do you come here based on your last comment? Is someone holding a gun to your head? Blink twice if you are not in a safe place.

    • Doug Gray

      I can’t help you if you can’t figure out that the owners locked the players out from showing up to work and think that it’s somehow not the owners fault that the players aren’t at work right now.

      • BK

        This lockout is a byproduct of MLBPA’s strike in 1994 that led to cancelling the World Series. The strike was a huge blow to the Owners financially and huge blow to the game overall–it took 5 seasons for attendance to rebound to pre-strike levels. Since that strike, every sports league has instituted a lockout when their respective CBAs expired–100%.

        So, one reason we’re not playing baseball is because the owners will never again give the players the opportunity to strike when they can do maximum damage AND the two sides have failed to agree on a new CBA.

        Second, as you pointed out, the CBT thresholds explicitly stopped at the conclusion of the CBA as the 2016 contained a sunset clause for this provision. In other words, large market teams could have increased their payrolls without restraint after 1 December. I don’t know if teams would have exploited that window of opportunity or not but continuing under the old CBA introduced an enormous risk to competitive balance across the league that could have had a multiyear impact.

    • AllTheHype

      100% agree Luke. Case in point, in 1993 the CBA ran out, and owners DID NOT lock players. The 1994 season began and negotiations continued til August, and when no agreement was reached, the players initiated a strike which ended the season with no World Series. ANYONE who believes that is proper course, meaning Owners should NOT lock out players, should review history. Because the same would happen again, and Owners are smart enough to know that, while some baseball analysts and website proprietors clearly are not.

      • Doug Gray

        Maybe you should go back and review the history. Why did the players vote to strike in 1994? Because Major League Baseball began to violate the law with regards to their pension payments to the union. When a judge ruled that Major League Baseball was indeed breaking the law in doing so, the players voted to end their strike within 48 hours and then played the entire next two seasons without a new CBA.

      • Redsvol

        Doug- you’re missing the point here. The players voted to strike in the middle of the season- knowing full well it would likely lead to canceling the season. They were compelled to go back to work by a federal judge that said the owners behaved badly in 1994. But fact is they were compelled to go back to work in 1995 under terms of the old cba.

      • Doug Gray

        The point is that the only reason they went on strike is because the owners were not acting in good faith (or legally). Had the owners been following the law, the players would not have gone on strike. Just like they didn’t in 1995 or 1996 when they also did not have a new collective bargaining agreement and the owners were following the law.

      • AllTheHype

        @Doug, Everything I said is completely factual, and I am certainly aware of the history. There was fault on both sides in 1994. Bottom line is historically not locking out and continuing to play while still negotiating has never ended well in MLB. For some reason, you think it will this time and your extremely biased opinions on the side of players is tiring.

        That is the very relevant and factual point Luke was making and your snippy, arrogant response was uncalled for.

  23. Cyrus

    Here’s a question: how many Billionaires are posting comments on this site. It’s interesting how people not good enough to play a sport at the pro level and not smart or savvy enough to make billions think they have all the answers.

    Do most of you think Billionaires are just winners of the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes or lucky to have rich parents?

    We have no idea about some of the details that are at play here but we post so much that we start to believe our own narrative.

    My opinion is that unions today are bad for America and they hurt our economy. They care little for anyone but themselves…similar to how the owners are being described on this site.

    I’d love to know how a player’s performance prior to getting a big contract compares to what they do after getting the contract. My observations have led me to conclude that production goes down. How many of you would give “110%” at your job every day if you were suddenly given a max contract by your employer? Well, almost all of us can’t really answer that except hypothetically but I seriously doubt most of us would maintain or increase productivity over the life of that contract. It’s called human nature.

    I am not with the players. They can get real jobs like the rest of us if they can’t “take care of their families” making more money in one year than most of us make in 5-10 years playing a game. Most of them have been coddled from their teens because they stood out athletically which largely comes from blessed DNA. Many of the Billionaires have worked extremely hard, taken several risks and experienced big failures along the way to amassing their fortunes. They have earned their positions and it is their money and they can do what they want with it. We can make the decision to pursue a different hobby or watch a different sport or hang out with people and have conversations and play with our kids or grandkids. It’s a game we are talking about…it shouldn’t be a drug we are addicted to and I can almost guarantee that if you were in a room one-on-one with one of these owners, they would be able to defend their position and the discussion would leave each of us appreciating who they are and how they got to where they are.

    • greenmtred

      You need to do a little more research on the effect of labor unions on the economy. It’s no accident that their diminished power has coincided with the hollowing-out of the middle class and the enormous and still growing transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. Yes, the players could get “real” jobs. And so could the billionaire owners. Alternatively, they (and I agree with Doug that “they” in this case are the owners) could negotiate in good faith and let the games be played again.

  24. Deafmix3

    Let’s just boil it down to the rock. Money – or profit motive to the exclusion of all else, the endgame for “free market capitalism” that is drearily playing out in literally every aspect of society today – has essentially destroyed sports at this point. The fact that THIS^ is the blog thread on March 2 pretty much says it all. Not “Who should start the season at shortstop” or “Is Aquino the worst-fielding outfielder you’ve ever seen in your life?” I don’t want to THINK about any of this miserable s*#t. Baseball is, or was, a GAME.

    Whether you’re on the players’ or owners’ sides in this instance, I think everyone here shares what I’m feeling, which is deep and dismal despair. When are you gonna say “Enough is enough”?

    I wish everyone luck going forward. For my part, I think I’m gonna reread, for the third or fourth time, Big Red Dynasty and maybe I’ll see how I’m feeling in August.

    • Cyrus

      Deafmix, unfortunately, we have not had free market capitalism in this country for several decades. Big government, which is almost completely uninvolved in a true free market society, has been a major player for my entire lifetime.

      Note how the past two years have gone in our country. Your frustration is shared by all of us but in a true free market, greed without acknowledging the dignity of the individual backfires and people/organizations who pursue that strategy ultimately fail.

      Think about how much better all pro sports were during the latter half of the last century. Athletes may be stronger and better today at their craft but look at how pro sports (and now college with the NIL) has become a soap opera or a political platform with immature, entitled athletes collecting their union-arranged paychecks when, deep down, they don’t even care as much about winning and they certainly don’t view the opposing teams the way they used to…heck, they probably have half a dozen former teammates on the other team.

      Pete Rose will always be, to me, the epitome of what a baseball player should be. While many will argue this point because of the gambling, I believe he played every game trying to win and he was going to do everything in his power to get a victory.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Thanks for the political rhetoric, just what this site needs(NOT).
        The greed on both sides is unbelievable but I am almost beginning to believe that the agents are causing most of this stalemate, the greediest of all .

  25. KG

    Thanks baseball. It’s been fun. Time to shift my attention to a “sport” that never goes on strike, has no unions, has no off-season and is filled with non-stop action. Hello professional wrestling!

  26. Old-school

    Well, considering the Reds have roadtrips to Atlanta LA and SD in April, I’m rooting for a May1 start.

  27. Steven D

    Let me start this by saying I don’t think this will happen nor do I want it to happen. But the owners were hell bent on getting rid of the current MLBPA could they just allow all of them to sit out and draft new high school players and sign new international players who are not a part of MLB right now. And just try to have a season I. July after the draft, off of drafted US kids from 2022 and international prospects? Or is there something forbidding this from happening even with no CBA in place.

  28. Jimbo44CN

    Watching the press conference by the players yesterday you would think they were coal miners asking for better working conditions and medical help for black lung.
    Hostility is all I picked up, and having the multi multi millionaire Scherzer sitting there is ridiculous. Believe me, I am not against unions. Having worked in a non union industry and watched union busting at its worst, I am sympathetic, but this is ridiculous and these players are not your typical union members.