Perhaps the biggest thing holding back a new collective bargaining agreement from happening is the luxury tax threshold. It has not at all grown with the increased revenues in the game and teams by-and-large use it as a de factor salary cap, with only two teams topping it last season while another handful of teams were within a few million of it. The players have been asking for it to go up quite a bit. On the ownership side they’ve basically been asking for it to remain the same as it was.
On Thursday it was reported by Andy Martino of SNY that four owners didn’t want the luxury tax number to go up even a penny. Major League Baseball, however, offered to raise it by $10M to $220,000,000. Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported overnight who those four owners were – Bob Castellini, Chris Ilitch (Tigers), Ken Kendrick (Diamondbacks), and Arte Moreno (Angels).
In order to get to an agreement the owners need 23 of the 30 to vote yes. While we can’t know for sure if these four would actually vote no on a deal if it did include a higher than $210,000,000 luxury tax number, the signs certainly point to it that they would. And if that’s correct, that means that the deal that gets baseball back is going to have to mean the ownership side of things can only lose three more owners over all other topics being discussed and included.
That’s a pretty big ask. And it shows that this isn’t just owners versus players in this negotiation. It’s owners versus owners versus players. While the players probably have some differences in the ranks about what is important and what’s far less important, there seems to be a much stronger collective idea of what they want than what it appears the owners want. Baseball can get by with no votes from those four owners, but if they are truly hardlined on a no vote on any rise to the luxury tax threshold it severely complicates making a deal with the players.