Lockout Update: Proposals – Everything You Need to Know

I haven’t used this space to update lockout proceedings for a few weeks, but quite a bit has happened since.

The players updated their proposal on February 1st, with the league promising to respond in kind; however, they went back on that promise, opting instead to suggest getting a federal mediator involved. The players declined, with many spoken and speculated reasons as to why: past negative experiences in bargaining with mediation, the feeling the sides weren’t yet to that point, apprehension that getting a mediator up to speed on their specialized agreement would only take more time, the belief the league was simply trying to win PR points, and the fear that a mediator would only draw negotiations closer to the old agreement that the players weren’t happy with.

Rob Manfred then spoke publicly for the first time since he locked the players out, finally giving voice to the league’s side, something that’s been largely lacking during the process, as players have been much more vocal about their desires and goals over the last few months.

The league then made a sprawling proposal on February 12th, seemingly the most all-encompassing one to-date, covering bargaining items both big and small. The players then took a few days to respond, making their own proposal yesterday, which brings us to where we are now.

Where does each side stand? As covered, there have been three updates since my last post, with lots of ground to cover. If I’m being honest, my head is starting to spin with all the information that needs taken in to sufficiently cover the proceedings right now. Between reporting, opinion pieces, tweet threads, and podcasts, there is a lot of good—and not so good—content to pour over. New information seems to be leaking from all over as of late, but I think I’ve done my best to update where each side stands on an even wider array of issues than we knew before—twenty-four in all.

Below, I will recap the most important and public facing aspects of the proposals that we know, with up-to-date information on where each side stands on the matter, at least based on the public reporting. As I mentioned before, some feel this reporting is likely biased and incomplete, and while that’s certainly possible, it seems we’re getting very good information thus far. For example, Manfred’s press conference revealed nothing new about the proceedings, and that was straight from the horse’s mouth. In fact, reporting on Competitive Balance Tax penalties ended up being more correct than Manfred on the subject, as he had to be corrected on some facts after the presser.

So, just what are the two-sides arguing over, is there anywhere they see eye-to-eye, and where do we go from here? Let’s have a look.

Included in bold text are changes that were made since the last update, as well as new pieces of the proposals that have since come to light. Also, I’ve attempted to break the topics up into subtopics, hopefully providing a better flow and making this all more easily digestible.

Miscellaneous

Optional Assignments

Players: Limit to four per season

Owners: Limit to five per season

This is an interesting, previously unknown wrinkle to each sides’ proposals with implications that could branch off in several different ways.

First, the positive. To many fans, bullpen games and pitcher roulette is not a fun style of play to watch. Limiting the amount of times a team can rotate bullpen arms up-and-down from the minors could, at least in theory, alleviate some of this. This, in turn, would also lead to more continuity, allowing fans an easier path to knowing who’s on the roster at any given time.

Also, the longer any individual player stays in the majors, the more service they accrue. It’s true that more days are not available, but instead of the same number of days of service going to more players, fewer players can earn more, potentially helping them reach arbitration and subsequently free agency when they may not have otherwise.

The practical matter, however, if whether these thresholds are restrictive enough. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, five players were optioned four times during the 2021 season—if Spring Training is included, and it’s unclear whether that would count in the proposal. Only one player, Max Kranick, was optioned five times, meaning he would have met the league threshold but not the players. No player was optioned more than five times.

However, these points and any others are probably moot, as MLB can’t help themselves from simply offering the players something without asking for the moon in return.

Domestic Reserve List

Players: “Please stop trying to take our jobs”

Owners: Allow the commissioner’s office the ability to reduce the list from 180 to as few as 150 as soon as 2023, while being able to adjust up or down

Jeff Passan reported recently that the league has pushed for this change in their prior and most recent proposals, with the union rejecting it every time. The league suggests that after never having a limit before, 180 was considered a high number to help offset development issues presented by COVID-19, and that they would like to reserve the right to continue slashing minor league jobs adjusting that number as they see fit.

Maury Brown of Forbes indicated on Twitter that this is seemingly a move to offset the increases in player salaries and housing costs that teams have been forced into over the last several seasons, and Tim Williams did a good job on expounding on all this nonsense here.

Pension Plan

There’s nothing really new to say here, and while it’s not necessarily pension related, there is one note I wanted to bring up.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com mentioned in his write-up about the most recent MLB proposal that the league is offering “improvements to the health benefits package”. Considering the source, this could mean any number of things, from the previously reported pension proposal withdrawal—which isn’t an improvement—to actual improvements.

As Michael McKenry mentioned recently on the NS9 podcast, this is an important benefit that affects every player in the union, so while it goes underreported, it’s an important benefit to remember.

Again, just bared mentioning.

Advertising Patches

Players: Will accept, as subject to the overall agreement

Owners: Seeking to sell on uniforms

This has been known for a while now, and while I may have mentioned it before, I wanted to include it here for a few reasons.

If this change mirrors anything like the NBA instituted in 2017, individual teams would sell the rights and receive the revenue as such. Presumably, it would fall under Local Revenue, meaning it would be subject to the Revenue Sharing formula, meaning that teams who could procure more for their advertising would have to share with those who couldn’t, but we probably should suppose that’s not a given.

Reportedly, teams in the NBA are seeing anywhere from $5 million to $20 million per year, so while not to the level of an expanded playoff pool, we’re not talking change in the couch cushion either.

Considering the season is supposed to start in just over a month, it’s hard to tell whether teams could sell sponsorships for the 2022 season that quickly, but if not, they would certainly have agreements in place for 2023.

To avoid adding another unnecessary section, MLB is also trying to raise additional revenue by “an increase in the number of special events domestically and internationally”.

No word yet on what these events would actually entail.

My main point in including this was to point out that while the league is proposing several new revenue streams, they do not seem to be proposing significant increases to salaries in turn.

Draft

Draft Lottery

Players: Lottery for top eight picks

Owners: Lottery for top three picks, ineligible for lottery in three consecutive seasons

While there has been no movement on the number of teams that would be included in the lottery, a few other points have come out regarding the lottery system that would be put in place.

For both proposals, the lottery would start in 2023, meaning the draft for that year would be determined by the 2022 standings.

On the owner’s side, the lottery odds were revealed, starting with the teams with the three worst records and working their way down to the team with the best record to not make the playoffs, or 16 in total, reflecting the league’s 14-team playoff proposal:

Teams 1-3: 15%

4th: 12.5%

5th: 10%

16th: .75%

As for the player’s side, they’ve included draft pick incentives for small-market teams that perform in terms of wins and playoff appearances.

If a small-market club makes the postseason, they would receive a pick before the Competitive Balance Round A begins, typically in the 30-40 range. Clubs that miss the playoffs but finish at least .500 would receive a pick before the Competitive Balance Round B begins, typically in the 60-70 range.

International Draft

Players: Unlikely to agree unless part of significant tradeoff

Owners: Included in most recent proposal

Very little detail about this new wrinkle is actually known, aside from the fact that the league is tying many other strings of its entire proposal to its inclusion, as you’ll see as we move along.

The players, much like in 2016, are against its inception, and will reportedly only agree to it if they feel they get commensurate returns.

Rule 4 Draft Rounds

Players: Proposed reducing/limiting to 20 rounds

Owners: Agreed to the player’s proposal

Buried in Passan’s aforementioned report was this nugget, which apparently has been on the table from the players since July 2021.

I’m not sure why the players would suggest this aside from appealing to the sensibilities of the owners, so chalk this one up as another concession the players are making towards owners, and I’d expect seeing this become permanent moving forward.

Signing Bonus Increases

Players: ???

Owners: Add an additional $23 million in Rule 4 and International Draft slots

Like many proposals on the league’s side, this simply assumes the acceptance of an International Draft, with no indication of what happens if that doesn’t slide through.

Also, it raises the question of how the $23 million is being added. Draft slotting—pre-pandemic that is—was increasing on a yearly basis, so are these natural increases included, or is the $23 million on top of those?

From 2018 to 2019, total pool values increased $10,510,800, a percentage increase in line with increases in league revenues. Of course, 2020 and 2021 were wonky, and slot values went unchanged from 2019 in those two years. If even the same raises were instituted instead, the difference between that and $23 million is only $1,978,400 more. So, it’s far more likely this claim is disingenuous as opposed to an olive branch of some kind.

Also, we don’t know what the slotting would look like for an International Draft, or whether it would be more or less than the most recent pool values. If, in total, it’s less than the 2021-2022 international pool totals, it’s not an actual increase, at least in full.

Also, an unintended consequence could be teams having more incentive to tank, at least if the increases were more front loaded than spread out over the entirety of the rounds.

Pre-Draft Physicals

Players: ???

Owners: If a player submits, the team that selects them must offer at least 75% of their slot value and player can’t be failed due to post-draft physical after passing pre-draft physical

Currently, players are not required to submit physicals prior to the draft, but teams also are not committed to the player in any way if they don’t like the looks of the physical they get before signing the player.

This rule is seemingly trying to encourage pre-draft physicals to avoid situations like Kumar Rocker in 2021, who failed to sign with the New York Mets after they must have found something they didn’t like in his medicals after they picked him.

This is certainly more player friendly post-draft, but an argument can be made that trying to force players into pre-draft physicals isn’t the best look as well.

Draft and Follow

Players: ???

Owners: Reinstitute the policy allowing teams to draft a player but not require them to sign until the following year

I’m not sure who was or wasn’t asking for this, but it was part of the proposal, so I wanted to include it.

This would allow teams to send the player to junior college, at which point they’d be allowed to sign the player for up to $225,000 the following year. It’s unknown what would happen if either side choose not to sign, if anything, or how bonus pools would be affected.

The cynical view is that this is the league continuing to try and farm out development without having to pay for it, which seems to be a theme for them.

Rule 5 Draft Eligibility

Players: Reduce current levels by one year

Owners: “Tabled the conversation”

This was something I openly wondered if the players may ask for, and it turns out I was right.

Currently, players who sign at 18 years of age or younger need to be protected by the fifth Rule 5 Draft after their signing date, while players who sign at 19 years of age or older by the fourth. The union is proposing cutting these to the fourth and third Rule 5 Draft after signing, respectively.

In theory, if players must be protected sooner, they can reach the majors quicker, thus starting their service clocks sooner, and in turn, start receiving real pay. This would be an effort to better align a players most productive years with their greatest earning potential.

Interestingly enough, this would actually return the pool of available players to where it was before 2006, when it was increased to the current levels. Many evaluators believe the talent available in the draft decreased after the rule change, as it was easier to tell who was and wasn’t worth protecting with the increase in years to track and develop, so it would be interesting to see if this change back would lead to a more talented, yet unpredictable group of prospects available.

Core Economics

Earlier Free Agency

Players: No current changes

Owners: “No way”

Even though they weren’t totally unreasonable, players acquiesced on their attempts at getting certain players to free agency quicker, and there’s nothing new to talk about here.

Service Time Manipulation

Players: Add service time to players who were called up after the start of the season based on accomplishments

Owners: Reward up to two draft picks to teams that roster Top-100 prospects from the start of the season who go on to achieve certain accolades in their pre-arbitration seasons

At the moment, it seems the league is still sticking with its Top-100 prospect proposal—which we now know would be determined “according to a mutually agreed-upon definition”—that I covered before, but they’ve tweaked it slightly.

Before a team could only reap the benefit of one award-winning performance with draft pick compensation, the league is now offering picks in two separate years if a player performs well enough during pre-arbitration. This means the Chicago Cubs could have received picks for Kris Bryant’s 2015 Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP, but only if he had been in the majors all of 2015.

It should be noted that their proposal specifies one Rule 4 and one International Draft pick—both coming after the first round—but this is obviously assuming the players accept that part of the proposal. There is no mention of the alternative if an International Draft is not accepted.

The players have reportedly accepted this award-based framework, but it seems they want to make additions of their own.

At first, the union—on top of their award-based structure (or it’s unclear if that is now simply based on the league structure)—wanted to award rookies a full year of service based on position and average rWAR and fWAR totals—infielders and catchers that finished Top-10 in WAR for their position in each league, while pitchers (relief and starting separate) and outfielders would have been Top-30.

Despite lowering those thresholds to Top-7 and Top-20, the league feels this would be too broad of a group to be rewarding service-time to.

Setting aside the logistics of the rule, I want to mention a point that Craig Goldstein made on a recent episode of the Effectively Wild podcast.

The league, by making the offer it has, is at the very least making a tacit acknowledgement that their practice of calling up young players later isn’t right. By adding incentives to try and stop this behavior, while simultaneously not implementing penalties against said behavior, they are now legalizing the practice for those who choose not to try for the incentives. Basically, they are making no effort to make the practice illegal; rather, they are awarding teams for not doing something immoral.

The common refrain is usually “this is something allowed under the CBA, so it’s okay”. While that’s not explicitly true—it’s not not allowed—this change would make that statement more true than it already is.

Competitive Balance Tax Threshold

Players: Raise from $210 million in 2021 to $245 million in 2022, raising to $273 million by the end of the agreement

Owners: $214 million in 2022, raising to $222 million by the end of the agreement

As speculated before, based on player reaction to owner proposals, this is a major sticking point for their platform, seeing revenues rise in recent years while the threshold largely stays stagnant.

The league came back and offered $6 million more in total over the five-year agreement, going from $214, 214, 214, 216, and 220 million to $214, 214, 216, 218, and 222 million from 2022 to 2026. This obviously isn’t much, but it at least shows there may be some give there as far as the league goes.

It will be needed, as we now know the player’s request of $245, 252, 259, 266, and 273 million over the same span. Really, all the players are trying to do is make up for increases that never happened. As Travis Sawchick of theScore points out, 5% annual raises starting in 2012 would have left the threshold at $276 million in 2021, so it’s not as if the players are being totally unreasonable, given the significant increases in revenue over the same period—Sawchick also notes revenues increased 63% from 2011 to 2019, while the CBT threshold only went up 15.7%.

I also wanted to cover a particularly interesting aspect that I’ve meant to but have yet to mention in all my coverage—the Competitive Balance Tax isn’t actually in effect right now, as it sunset as part of the CBA expiration. If the league decided to end the lockout and play under the prior CBA until a new one was agreed upon, there would be no CBT. This is obviously unpreferred for the league, as teams being allowed to actually spend may shine a light on their claims that they don’t have enough money to spend. It’s even been speculated that this is one of the main reasons why the league locked the players out in the first place, to not operate an offseason without a CBT.

So, in theory, the reinstitution of a CBT was not a given; however, both sides have proposed adding it back in the next agreement. That means that from the get-go, the union has been meeting one of ownerships biggest goals in negotiations, yet the league has not yet decided to negotiate on the union’s biggest requests in turn. Therefore, some may argue that the players jumped the gun on offering to reinstitute the CBT so quickly.

Also, the argument that they haven’t come far enough towards the owners in negotiations doesn’t hold as much water when considered from this point of view.

Competitive Balance Tax Penalties

Players: Reduce/Eliminate penalties, including nonmonetary (draft picks and international pool space), while keeping tax rates the same

Owners: Increase first level to 50% tax, plus increases of the second and third levels to 75% (plus loss of a second-round pick) and 100% (plus loss of a first-round pick) respectively, repeal repeater tax

Not only are the owners offering very little give as far as thresholds go, but they are also simultaneously and severely raising penalties for teams who would like to exceed the tax. The union is obviously not pleased at all with these proposals, as they see it for what it is—an attempt to further harden an already soft cap to spending on the top end.

Previously, the tax rates were tiered over three levels: 20%, 32%, and 62.5%, going up as teams continued to exceed the tax year-over-year. Under the league’s new proposal, the recidivism penalties are gone, but in their place are increased tax penalties: 50%, 75%, and 100%. On top of these penalties are changes to draft-pick penalties. Before, teams would only have certain draft picks fall ten spots if they fell into the third tier of the tax ($40 million over). Now, while MLB did withdraw their proposal to have teams lose a third-round pick for exceeding the first threshold, they are still asking for loss of a second-round pick for exceeding the second and first-round pick for exceeding the third tier.

Jay Jaffe did a great job covering this in more detail at FanGraphs, providing clear and concise graphs for any visual learners out there.

The league is trying to claim their offer is better for the players on the whole, but the players see this proposal as a clear step backwards from the prior agreement, and it’s hard to say that they are wrong.

Draft Pick Compensation

Players: Seeking to eliminate draft pick compensation attached to free agents

Owners: Suggested to eliminate in most recent proposal

In his press conference, Manfred confirmed the stance of the league, that of which we already knew—they have agreed to disconnect draft pick compensation to free agency, basically ending the Qualifying Offer.

This was a big ask on the player’s part, but it is fair to ask just how big a concession it is on the part of the league, as 110 players have received the Qualifying Offer since 2012, an average of 11 players an offseason.

While it hasn’t shown to impede the highest earners, it certainly has impacted the market for players that aren’t as marquis, so it’s not a bad thing to see going away.

If it’s not totally clear to some, while teams wouldn’t be assessed draft picks for signing players, they would still receive them for losing players. As reported by the Associated Press, compensation received would be tiered and depend on the contract the departing player received as a free agent:

  • $25 million in guaranteed salary or $18 million average annual value (AAV)
  • $55 million or $23 million AAV
  • $100 million or $30 million AAV
  • $150 million or $40 million AAV

While it’s assumed the higher the guarantee, the better the compensation, actual placement of picks was not reported.

This has its pros and cons, such taking away the ability to receive picks would leave teams with no recourse to losing a player, taking away their leverage and making them more inclined to trade them during the season, as to not lose their services for nothing in return. However, continuing to offer picks for losing free agents may make teams more inclined to not resign their own players, especially smaller markets who feel they can’t afford certain players, affecting competitive integrity as well.

Minimum Salaries

Players: $775,000 starting in 2022, ending with $875,000 by the end of the agreement

Owners: Three tier system ($615,000 for less than one year of service, $650,000 for 1.000 to 1.171, and $725,000 for 2.000 to 2.171), rising $10,000 annually

In their latest proposal, the league offered to raise the rate for players at or above 2.000 years of service by $25,000, a slight increase but still not approaching the ask of the players.

They also offered an alternative—a straight minimum of $630,000 as opposed to tiered, while giving teams the right to give raises over the minimum as they see fit. This is basically the old system, just with a $59,500 raise in the minimum, which is 5% higher than the starting raise of the prior agreement (10.43% to 5.42%), but 5.5% worse than the starting raise of the 2012 agreement (15.94% to 10.43%).

Figures have been flying around as to how much of a benefit this would provide to players. I tried pulling salary figures from Spotrac, but it was slow moving, so my next best alternative was applying the new rates to the 2021 Pirates, as I knew exactly how they would affect them.

In total, their payroll went up $1,261,818, and that’s with 50 of the 66 players receiving service time being paid at the minimum rate, by my count. Obviously, it would differ from team to team, but 75% is certainly a high number, and extrapolate that out by 30 teams and you’re in the ballpark of what is being reported as projected increases to the players under the league’s proposal.

Under the player’s proposal, payroll would have increased by $4,150,286.

Pre-arbitration Bonuses

Players: Share a pool of $115 million to pre-arbitration players based on accomplishments

Owners: Offered a pool of $15 million to be split among certain pre-arbitration players based on performance

In their February 1st proposal, the players lowered their request from $105 to $100, and the owners responded in turn by going from $10 million to $15 million. After yesterday’s proposal, the union actually added an additional $15 million to their pool, to make up for their decrease in arbitration eligible players, as I’ll touch on later. The gap is obviously still very wide.

While it had yet to be super clear as to who both sides wanted to compensate with the extra funds, the proposals have now crystalized for both sides.

Yesterday, the union proposed spreading their pool amongst the Top-150 pre-arbitration players based on an average of rWAR and fWAR, up from 30 in previous proposals. While their award proposals aren’t as clear as the leagues—an extra $766,667 per player (if spread evenly) would essentially double the league minimum proposed by the player side. It certainly makes sense to extend this plan to more players, if the goal is to get younger players paid more.

As for the league’s plan, a six-person panel would develop an agreed upon WAR statistic that would allocate funds to the Top-30 players by that statistic, as well as award winners. Bob Nightengale is reporting the following amounts by award winner:

  • $1 million for winning MVP or Cy Young
  • $500,000 for second place MVP or winning Rookie of the Year
  • $250,000 for third place MVP or Rookie of the Year runner-up
  • $100,000 for fourth or fifth place MVP or third place for Rookie of the Year

We’ve seen the names included throughout the reporting for months now, so the league is obviously circulating examples of how certain players would benefit from this. For example, the same players have been offered as those who would benefit under the new system:

  • Corbin Burnes: $608,000 to $2,600,000 (328% raise)
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: $635,400 to $2,000,000 (215%)
  • Jonathan India: $570,500 to $1,340,000 (135%)
  • Randy Arozarena: $581,200 to $1,300,000 (124%)

All four are obviously award winners or placers, with Burnes winning a Cy Young, Guerrero Jr. placing second for AL MVP, while India and Arozarena won Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues. Applying Nigtengale’s increases from above, it’s clear that the WAR increases are also tied to the raises the players would receive. Add all four raises up and you get $4,844,900, or almost one-third of the league’s proposed $15 million pool. That would leave $10,155,100 for 26 other players, or $390,581 on average.

Looking at these numbers, it seems clear that the player’s request is a little more realistic if the goal is to get players more money early in their careers. Maybe $115 million is too high, but $15 million is definitely too low, and there should be a happy medium somewhere the sides can meet on this.

Expanded Playoffs

Players: 12-team playoff

Owners: 14-team playoff

No changes to proposals here, so I’ll just offer some more commentary.

While there is certainly a debate about how much new money this could bring into the game—Eno Sarris projects $50 million, while Ken Rosenthal suggests $100 million—there’s no debate that it’s going to be a lot. It’s why the owners are proposing it, after all.

The part that should be questioned is how, with such a new influx of money, the owners can offer a mere $2 million raise in the CBT thresholds with this much new money coming in a year. Sure, players share of the gate would go up as revenues go up, but it’s questionable that only players making the playoffs reap the rewards of league playoff expansion.

Also, much like the previously discussed CBT reinstitution, the players met one of the league’s biggest requests right off the bat. While it’s not as big of an expansion as the league is requesting, the players are still willing to negotiate on both of the league’s biggest goals for this agreement, and the league has seemingly yet to respond to that take with any give.

Maybe the players should have waited to offer a bigger playoff pool, as the league doesn’t seem to be taking them seriously, seemingly taking for granted the fact they know they already have what they want on the table.

Universal Designated Hitter

Players: Will agree to Universal Designated Hitter

Owners: Included in most recent proposal

Here is another revelation from Manfred’s press conference that wasn’t actually a revelation. What is a surprise is why the league is claiming it as some kind of gift to the players.

It’s been clear that this is something the league has wanted, but it’s continually used it as a bargaining chip, trying to get players to agree to it in 2021 in return for expanded playoffs. The league is again touting it as a win for the players, acting as if owners and front offices want to continue to see their big-ticket pitchers injured while batting or running the bases.

This is akin to your friend asking if you want to order pizza, you agreeing, but then that friend insisting you wash their car in return because you agreed eat the pizza they suggested.

Of course, it’s possible that this could mean more money for players, as MLB is selling it—Bob Nigthengale claims the average DH made $9 million in the AL last year—but that obviously depends on how teams choose to staff the position.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America looked at the 2020 season, when the DH was sprung on NL teams with little time to plan. Despite this fact, 10 of the 15 most productive DHs were in the NL, while the five least productive were in the AL. Do teams take this to heart, choosing to staff the spot with multiple players, giving players the day off as opposed to staffing one full-time DH?

It’s certainly possible, but that unintended consequence is something that will just need to be watched out for.

Revenue Sharing

Players: Reduce pool by $30 million

Owners: Have not submitted changes in any proposals thus far

There’s still no movement here, as the league’s recent proposal didn’t address this topic and they continue to claim they won’t negotiate over it, citing competitive balance concerns.

As already mentioned, the players have met the biggest requests of the league, so it may be prudent for the league to at least entertain this. If not, they should at least meet the players more fully in another aspect of their proposal.

Super 2

Players: Increase from Top-22% of players between 2.000 and 3.000 years of service to Top-80%

Owners: No current changes

The players, in yesterday’s proposal, technically shifted their focus, even though the Super 2 and arbitration requests are basically one in the same.

Instead of doing away with the Super 2 designation and shifting all the focus to arbitration eligibility as they were, they are now essentially proposing to keep traditional arbitration unchanged, instead significantly increasing the number of players eligible for arbitration as Super 2s.

In case it’s not registering, let’s say there are 100 players in every bucket from 2.000 to 5.000 years of service. Before, the players were suggesting all 400 would be arbitration eligible. Now, it would be 380, with 80 qualifying as Super 2s.

Owners are adamant they will not go up from 22%.

Arbitration

Players: No current changes

Owners: No current changes

As was just addressed, the players are now suggesting normal arbitration eligibility remain the same—3.000 years—even though increasing Super 2 by 58% kind of muddies that technical statement a little.

As for the league, their recent proposal didn’t address this topic and they continue to claim they won’t negotiate over it, again, despite the players meeting their biggest requests.

This is a good lesson to the union on why they need to be careful about what does and doesn’t make it into the CBA, as it seems once something is there, it’s not easily changed.

As recently as 1985, players were eligible for arbitration after 2.000 years of service, so it’s not as if there isn’t precedent for the player’s ask; however, the league refused to even talk about the change.

Also, I want to promote some work in these areas, even though I had some trouble understanding it. Ben Clemens of FanGraphs did some calculations, finding that the players’ original changes in Super 2 and arbitration would result in roughly an additional $110 and $120 million in salaries for players, respectively. The work was very in-depth, so proceed with caution.

Salary Cap

Players: “Don’t ask”

Owners: “We won’t ask because we know you’re going to say no”

To end, just consider this my constant reminder that a Salary Cap is not on the table and will not be on the table, no matter how badly you want it to be or who tells you otherwise.

As I covered recently, the owner’s charade of an original proposal did nothing but severely cut costs while making zero changes to revenue, and it should have been laughed away.

A true cap system, which is what I think a lot of you are pining for, would require massive amounts of revenue sharing that would not even be considered by many ownership groups, stopping the idea in its tracks.

Sure, maybe, just maybe, if the players relent on playoff or CBT proposals in an attempt to get the league to take them more seriously, the league may counter and say “you want to change your proposals, well we’ll change ours too”. Again, I really don’t see that happening.

Finally, I’ll leave you with one question about the whole topic I haven’t been able to figure out.

If player’s revenue share is truly falling, which it seems to be, or else they wouldn’t be so mad and owners wouldn’t be fighting so hard to keep their deal…

And if players aren’t explicitly asking for a set amount of revenue…

Why would ownership fight to institute this, losing out on shares of revenue they currently are afforded?

The joke $100 – $180 proposal? Sure, of course, because it just saves them money at no change to revenue. Yet many seem to think they would fight the union to…pay more in salary by tying it to revenue? In what world does that make sense?

A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

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