On Tuesday the representation for the Major League Baseball owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association had meetings and swapped some proposals for over 16 hours, reaching the 3am ET mark before calling it a day. Rob Manfred and the owners had said previously that Tuesday was “the deadline” for an agreement that would result in a full season. Of course that statement means nothing as the length of the season must be negotiated and can’t be unilaterally decided by the owners or the players. That “deadline” has been extended as the two sides came closer and closer together on their proposals, with the players asking to meet early in the morning before responding to MLB. Evan Drellich of The Athletic is also reporting that with this development that MLB is not attempting to “cancel” more games. Yet.

So let’s dive into what seemed to happen on Tuesday. The owners raised their offer on the luxury tax threshold, starting out at $230M and rising to $242M by the end of the deal. They raised the minimum salary a bit as the deal goes on. The starting point remained the same, $700,000, but instead of only rising by $50,000 by the end of the deal it now rises by $70,000 by the end of the deal. Tiny movement, but movement. Among the larger issues at the start of bargaining it seems that the minimum salary is the one that’s the closest to an agreement. There’s also the international draft at stake. The players have been resisting agreeing to one for the last two decades since it was initially proposed by the owners. It seems that the owners are fighting for it quite hard this time around. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reported that the MLBPA has been reaching out to Latin American players throughout the league to hear their thoughts on this.

While the owners did up the luxury tax threshold, the penalties did change a little bit. MLB is trying to add another tier of penalty for teams that go over – making it a 4-tier system instead of three. That “next” tier would not kick in unless a team went to $290M.

Major League Baseball’s ownership congregation also had a few other things in their proposal that are smaller in nature, but also important things for the players. From Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

The option limit being tied to waivers after five times in one season is an interesting wrinkle. As has been noted before – there were multiple players in baseball in 2021 who were optioned more than 10 times. This rule could work for or against players, though. In some cases it may mean a guy remains up because a team doesn’t want to risk losing them to waivers. But it may also mean that after their 4th option in a season that someone else gets called up the next time around instead so the team doesn’t have to worry about trying to decide on whether or not to keep the other guy on the roster the rest of the season or place them on waivers.

The draft lottery situation gets something the players want – a reason to try and limit “tanking”. While higher, and in theory better draft picks is one reason why teams would tank, and thus giving them less reason to do so by limiting how many times they can have a chance at a #1-10 pick, a lot of the time “tanking” is more about just keeping money. The players had wanted to try and limit the revenue sharing to get around that side of things, but the owners weren’t going to even discuss it. So the players moved on to try and do something about the draft aspect of it and it seems the owners have given some ground on that side.

Now we all just sit back and wait.

45 Responses

  1. redsfan4040

    The draft is an interesting one. If it was already in place, the Reds would have not drafted fifth and gotten Jonathan India in 2018 (he could’ve fallen to them, another IF wasn’t taken until 12). They would have also missed out on Nick Lodolo the following year at 7. There are still some interesting names they could have drafted in both years, but India and Lodolo seem to be two names that will be part of the next winning Reds team.

  2. Stock

    Good job at presenting how rule changes will negatively impact the Reds Redsfan4040.

    I think I agree that they would have lost India. But my guess is that they would have still had the #7 pick and been able to get Lodolo for two reasons. First Lodolo was not a lottery pick so no penalty there. Second, they did not have a lottery pick the prior year. They picked 10th. I am not sure but the way I read it they would have had Lodolo.

    • redsfan4040

      Good point. They would’ve missed India but probably still stunk enough to get the seventh pick and Lodolo. I didn’t think about it resetting after they miss a year of top 10.

    • MK

      At the time I don’t think anyone at the time would have been distraught if they missed out on India as I remember the pick being criticized for picking a guy with one outstanding college season. Really no body was real thrilled about the pick until 2021

  3. CFD3000

    I’m not convinced that the draft lottery details alone will dissuade teams from tanking. Tanking is at least as much about “money now” as it is winning later, and success of early picks in the baseball draft isn’t nearly as reliable as it is for basketball and football. I think this is a good change, but I don’t see it transforming teams from terrible with a tiny payroll for several years into playoff contenders with competitive payrolls. I’m hoping we’ll eventually see payroll floors and more revenue sharing but combined with an obligation for receiving teams to spend most of it on payroll. Competitive balance is a huge issue for fans – at least this one – and for the long term health of the game. Baby steps I guess. Just like progress in these negotiations. #Play162

    • SultanofSwaff

      Exactly. This proposal will have little to no effect. To me, lack of parity is the biggest issue for the MLB by far. Both sides are being shortsighted here–the long term health of the sport depends on fans feeling the system isn’t rigged.

    • BK

      I think your spot on. The draft is a factor, but drafted players are typically several years away from making an impact. I do think an expanded playoff will discourage tanking somewhat, too. But as you point out, tanking is a much about small market teams building a war chest to compete in a window of opportunity. I don’t see this CBA changing that fact appreciably.

    • Luke J

      I’m not convinced the players actually care about preventing tanking anyway as they claim. If they did, their main sticking point wouldn’t be a higher CBT. All that does is encourage tanking while allowing the top tier players to get higher contracts. It does nothing for the rest of the players, nor does it provide incentive for teams to compete. The opposite. It makes it easier for big market teams to buy up the big free agents leaving the small market teams to tank to build their teams through the farm system. You can’t have competitive balance without both a floor and a ceiling on salaries. And the players rejected that outright.

      • CFD3000

        Luke – I agree. I don’t think competitive balance is truly as important to the players OR owners as we wish it was, or as it is to fans. Owners have barely paid it lip service, and I believe their offer of a salary floor was just floated to make the accompanying low offer for a cap to look more appealing. So the players didn’t so much reject the floor as they did the cap and accompanying floor. But the players say they care about competitive balance… until it threatens the salaries of the already flush superstars. So they want more teams to compete, but only if there’s no direct cost to the players. So that sucks for the fans from both sides!

      • Tom Reeves

        Tanking doesn’t do much to players with contracts. The issue is tanking is that the team isn’t signing free agents.

        Under the new deal, we’ll see if tanking has anything to do with draft position (not likely).

        The players have also resisted a cap/floor model. That’s the best model for team parity (and team party is critical to a small market team like the Red switch the least wealthy owner in the league).

        I think the players union should have given on the top end salaries (which impacts very few players) to focus on increases for more lower paid players. That guy who plays 3 years in the league – that’s the guy the players should be fighting for since there are far more of him than Joey Vottos.

  4. BK

    In addition to what are perhaps artificial deadlines, the calendar is beginning to work against a full season. I hope the calls to players from Latin America are simply courtesy calls to the players that may have strong views on the draft. It would be pretty amateurish to have not understood a key constituencies’ position on a key bargaining issue before even beginning negotiations.

    Sounds like we are getting close.

    • Doug Gray

      They had better be more than courtesy calls. American/Canadian born players have no idea what it’s like to go through the system that Latin American players do.

      The international draft was seemingly thrown in late in the discussions – not something that’s really been simmering for a while in the discussions. And now it seems that MLB is pushing hard for it. They need to have real discussions about it and talk to people who have navigated it – both good and bad.

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah, they have. They also didn’t seem to include it in the negotiations in this CBA until the last week or two.

        Until that point there really wasn’t a reason to begin to have real conversations about it since it wasn’t on the table. Toss in that even if it was discussed in the last CBA and some players were asked about it, that was 6 years ago and since that point in time the rules were changed in how the entire system had operated, and even now – short of the older Cuban guys who signed – players in the MLBPA didn’t navigate that system. They navigated an older, very different system, which was different than even the current system.

      • AllTheHype

        Gotta promote with the “blame the owners” narrative at all costs.

      • Doug Gray

        When it’s the owners at fault, yes, that’s the narrative that I will go with.

      • AllTheHype

        “They also didn’t seem to include it in the negotiations in this CBA until the last week or two.” – Doug Gray

        I don’t know where you’re getting you info from, but I’ve been reading about the international draft in CBA talks for weeks. I could link several time stamped articles.

        Every comment you make has to include some “owner fault” bias. Lost a ton of respect.

      • Greenfield Red

        Give it a break already. I don’t think Doug is awaiting his kick-back from the MLPA for blaming the owners. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

        If any of us had to defend all the things we say and write, it would not be difficult to find the occasional issue on which both sides have been supported.

      • MK

        So why do Canadians fall under regular draft. Mexicans don’t and they are as close to US as Canada?

      • Tar Heel Red

        “The international draft was seemingly thrown in late in the discussions…really?” According to MLB Network’s J.P. Morosi and Tom Verducci the international draft has not only been already discussed, but was already agreed to by both sides. Now all of a sudden it is the players latest objection.

        The users of this website get it…you are decidedly in the players corner in this thing. I cannot for the life of me understand how you can own websites that cover the Cincinnati Reds, a small market team, and blindly support the players like you do. Perhaps you should take your talents to a large market team where money is no obstacle and the players get whatever they want.

      • Tom Reeves

        Well, the MLB did offer a mediator and the players declined. A mediator might have gotten all the proposals on the table earlier in the process.

        It’s perfectly reasonable in a negotiation to offer a proposal late in the negotiation.

        I mean, this game isn’t called “hardball” for nothing. There are millions of dollars at stake – why would anyone negotiate easy?!

  5. Mark Moore

    Is it possible that glimmer of light is the end of this tunnel … or is it just another oncoming train?

    • Optimist

      As an optimist, considering MLBTRs chart on the negotiations, the differences have narrowed considerably and clearly indicate where the deal could be reached.

      The pessimist/realist/analyst now wonders about the 23 of 30 owners needing to be in agreement to finish a deal. Considering that 4 may already be stuck, will 4 others join them? And, will it come down to 1 or 2 just exerting power?

      Still disappointing how constrained, and risk-averse, and self-centered the owners are as a group – even considering the differences, it’s interesting how the other major leagues have developed and changed in the past few decades – MLB/MiLB not so much.

  6. Bdh

    Ken Rosenthal tweeting no deal. Players really just ruined all that momentum. Clearly all on them now. They just don’t want to play

    • Jimbo44CN

      The greed being exhibited by the players continues to astound me. For weeks the big deal was getting younger players more compensation, fewer up and downs, more service time, more competitive balance, etc.
      If I am not mistaken(and I may well be as this is a fast moving merry go round) it seems to me as if the owners stepped up on all those issues and no movement by the players. Now it’s all about the CBT being raised, which means nothing but less competition and more money for the Scherzers and Gerrit Coles of the world, not about the vast majority of ML players. What a joke, they might as well have Scott Boras as the only negotiater for the players.

  7. Stock

    They are $10,000 a year off on minimum salary: $700,000 vs. $710,000.

    They are $2 million off on the cap. $230 million to $232 million. I am impressed the players finally moved on their prior offer.

    I am not sure these small differences are worth cancelling games.

    • Redsvol

      I’m with you Stock, the difference between the main economics in year 1 has shrunken dramatically and shouldn’t hold up the season any longer. The main point of contention now is how much the difference is in years 2 thru 5.

      Bickering over an International draft is silly – just pick one of the options presented and go with it. The owners didn’t say there must be an international draft – they gave other options. I don’t know why the Players couldn’t just pick one of those options and got the season moving forward. Now its going to be really difficult to fit 162 games into the shrinking baseball calendar – which will cost the players more than the owners and become a serious point of contention. They were so close! And what’s wrong with an International draft anyway? Seems to work well in NBA and NHL.

  8. Bdh

    And another week of games gone. Thanks players

  9. LDS

    I see a lot of you are playing buying into the owner’s narrative. I’m assuming you guys are “real” and not owner shills. Sadly, this is all on the owners or have you guys forgotten the weeks following the lockout when they did nothing constructive. It’s particularly disturbing that the owners are playing the “my way or the highway” on another day when another media contract is confirmed. Sorry the owners aren’t serious. Reminds me of Stooge in the Christmas Carol but there’s no ghosts coming to reform the owners. The game and the fans will suffer.

    • Tom Reeves

      Well, it’s called hardball for a reason. If you’ve never negotiated over millions of dollars, it’s really difficult to explain those negotiations work. Each side is trying to use any means to gain leverage and if that means pulling on your sympathies, they’ll do it. They’re close on most things and now each side is using that closeness as leverage to get better deals on side issues. As soon as the money agreement is made, every other issue is moot. With things this close, I’m guessing the season will start close to on time. Frankly, for a major league CBA, it’s shocking it’s went this smoothly.

      I franky think the players association didn’t fight nearly hard enough for young players and still try and cater to their whales.

      If I were pre-arb and arb players, I’d form a separate union that could fight for my interests.

  10. TR

    I’ve been on the players side for the entirety of these talks. Owners are greedy and waited 6 weeks to start real negotiations which is why we are having this mess today. However, today I feel like the players need to share some blame. The 3 options given from owners for international draft and qualifying offer were fair and covered the gambit. I don’t like owners forcing the issue before everything else resolved, but it is what it is. They would have closed those gaps today after decision on draft/QO.

    I think the players have made substantial progress in this CBA in regards to minimum salary, pre-arb pool, and min CBA tax. I know still probably not even with owners in terms of money coming in, but you have to start somewhere. Shows me last CBA was so poor for players that’s going to take a few CBA deals down the line to really make it equal. Owners aren’t going to give it up all at once. Think option of status quo of no intl draft/QO remains was fair. Heck even getting rid of QO to see if union will accept draft by Nov 2022 or possibly open up CBA after 2024 was fair as well.

    I just know today was last chance to play a full 162 games unless we doing like a ton of DH’s. Being so close is very frustrating. Not sure why players didn’t just say no international draft if such a big deal and you have to live with QO. Rest of gaps were so close. Honestly, not even sure why players against international draft as the total pool was 15-20 million more than current system. Also, maybe draft limits some of these scumbags and deals where a kid doesn’t play for years. Go REDS.

  11. VegasRed

    I have a hard time being sympathetic to the owners’ position in this lockout, unlike some on this board. I have heard a litany of excuses from the owners take all the risk to the players are replaceable, on this and other comment boards. Again, I am not persuaded in the slightest that the lockout and loss of games is justifiable, or that the players are responsible. It just does not cross the common sense test.

    MLB holds all the cards with no cap and no floor. They receive an unreasonably weighted share of revenues compared to other pro sports and it isn’t close. Nor does it appear it ever will be, even if MLB has met all the players’ demands up front!

    And owners like our reds’ group are the worst of the liars. Yes it’s true they cannot spend like certain other owners in larger markets. But that doesn’t mean they are forced to be incredibly shortsighted and demonstrably inept in their management.

    But alas, they are proven bumbleheads at producing winning baseball. What they have proven successful with is growing their asset value and making bank along the way.

    And what has it cost them? Not much, including the loss of their integrity and good name which has had dubious value for more than a decade.

    Baseball won’t survive forever if it doesn’t solve the problem of a certain percentage of its owners who are content to profit and have no real interest in winning.

    I wish there was a litmus test to be fully invested in winning in order to qualify and continue as an owner.

  12. Mark Moore

    I’m feeling a bit like Wil E. Coyote (genius) at this point. That light apparently was just another train. Silly me for getting my hopes up a bit.

    Thanks, Doug, for your diligence in keeping us informed. Still looking like MiLB will be the only game in town for a while.

  13. TR

    The discouraging thing after today is the toughest fight might be ahead of us with MLBPA wanting pay and service time for cancelled games and owners steadfastly opposed. Good luck on resolving that which is why 162 games was a must. Bizarre that the qualifying offer which impacts a dozen players a year is the major roadblock now along with international draft. Why don’t we just double draft $$$ and have everyone in one draft. You know like every other major sport in the US.

  14. BK

    Hang in there everybody … lots of progress in the last 24 hours … they know how close they are. An international draft will benefit the players economically. FWIW as a Reds fan, I think the current system is fair to us. I’m sure both sides understand the current system is fertile ground for seedy characters–they’ll figure it out. I think we’re pretty close.

    • Optimist

      You may want to review D Ortiz’s comments on the international draft – in short, it won’t benefit the players, and even moreso it won’t benefit the DR as a nation. Also see the negative comments from PR players how their inclusion in the domestic draft has negatively affected baseball there. Finally, it seems that while it has been discussed for a while, the players’ reaction indicates it was dropped into these negotiations very recently – that may a slip up by Manfred, who otherwise has done very well on the owners side.

      • BK

        I read Ortiz’s comments. He says we need a long “runway” to get to an international draft. My point is that this is really isn’t an economic or competitive issue. It’s about doing right by the players in Latin America. Perhaps an issue they can finally work together on.

      • Optimist

        It’s absolutely an economic issue – as I read the comments it would cap signing amounts (akin the slot values in the domestic draft), and perhaps more interestingly is the effect on national economies – in that sense it’s akin to the MiLB restructuring which wiped out quite a few small city clubs (look at the Montana cities). I wouldn’t be surprised if it got to the level of the Dominican ambassador making a call or two.

        Now, there are certainly countervailing issues – notably the abusive relationships and underage agreements, and those need to be addressed.

        Finally, I wonder if the owners see this as a wedge issue between the players in the current draft system vs. the mostly Caribbean players this would affect?

      • BK

        From a macro perspective this is absolutely cost neutral for both sides. The cost of signing international free agents is already capped–teams can’t exceed their bonus pools. The Owners currently have 100% cost certainty.

        The offer on the table does hard slot signing bonuses–that would affect some individuals and, players won’t get to pick their teams–yes those are drawbacks for some players, but in exchange, MLB upped the total amount committed to the draft.

        Ortiz is mainly making an argument to take time to implement a draft carefully. I agree, but as I recall, the players pushed hard at the end of the last CBA to torpedo the international draft.

        As I said above: this isn’t a new idea. If the players feel strongly that they want to shape how this plays out, they should have some basic guidelines at the ready. That’s part of prepping for a negotiation. This is not a new concept at all. This issue is about taking care of the players coming from Latin America.

  15. Jon

    Assuming the schedule doesn’t change and they are able to finally come to an agreement and start the season on April 14, the Reds may very well have the most difficult April schedule in baseball. Open on the road for seven against the Dodgers and Padres, then home for six versus the Cards and Padres.

    • Jon

      This also could be the Reds first Opening Day with both a parade and postgame fireworks.