CBA expires Dec. 2-- how will this affect the Red Sox?

The Gray Eagle

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Looks like there will be a lockout if a new deal isn't agreed to by the end of the month.
Silverman in the Glob looks at the situation:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/10/30/sports/answering-some-key-questions-mlbs-collective-bargaining-agreement-is-set-expire/

What the owners want:
The owners have proposed, according to The Athletic and New York Post, a lower CBT of $180 million with stiffer penalties plus a payroll floor of $100 million that also comes with penalties, automatic free agency when a player turns 29½ years old, and elimination of arbitration... plus expanded playoffs and an international draft.
The bolded would be a tough blow for fans of teams that spend money to try to win. And obviously a disaster for the players. So I wouldn't be surprised if Tony Clark agreed to it.

What the players want:
They seek a reduction, likely two or three years, in the number of years it takes for a player to become a free agent. They want salary arbitration to begin after the second year, rather than the third. They want to close the loophole that allows teams to manipulate service time, a trick that essentially tacks an extra year of service before hitting free agency. They want to revise the draft rules that currently guarantee high picks for low-finishing teams.

They also want a higher competitive balance tax. In the last CBA, they were only able to negotiate an increase from $195 million in the first year to $210 million this year.

The players also want a universal DH. There’s more, but those are the main components.
No mention of actually wanting to tie the luxury tax to the game's revenues. NFL, NBA, and NHL salary caps are tied to revenues. Doesn't look like either side is looking at doing the same for baseball.

In MLB, player's share of revenues dropped from 57% in 2015 to 54% in 2018.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2019/01/11/economic-data-shows-mlb-spent-less-on-player-salaries-compared-to-revenues-in-2018/?sh=15e5b19939d7
I have no idea how that has changed since the pandemic hit, but I doubt it's increased.

From what's in this article, I'd expect the luxury tax to remain where it is, or even drop. And the owners want even harsher penalties for exceeding it, to make sure that they can pocket more money. The players want a higher tax level, but they haven't been very successful in getting that in the past, and the owners already want to slash it from the $210 million it is now down to $180 million.

This doesn't seem good for the Red Sox. It makes hiring Bloom look even better, at least. But it sure looks like they will be forced to either keep payroll low, or pay even more punitive penalties that will hurt in the long term.

In The Athletic, Dreilich anticipates that there will be a lockout:
https://theathletic.com/2921054/2021/11/01/how-a-major-league-baseball-lockout-would-work-this-winter/

If Major League Baseball and the Players Association have not agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement by midnight entering Dec. 2, it is very likely that the sport’s owners will lock out the players. If that happens, all of the typical offseason transactions, from free agency to the arbitration process to the Rule 5 draft, would likely be frozen until a new deal is reached. The sport’s annual mid-December winter meetings would likely be canceled — at least the portion of the meetings involving the major leagues. (There is a minor league component, as well.) Players would not be able to use club facilities, but spring training and the 2022 regular season itself would only become threatened if the lockout lasted long enough. Spring training starts in February, the regular season at the end of March.

The sides could still reach a new deal prior to the current one’s expiration at 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1. Proposals have been made on dozens of topics, and some have led to more progress than others. On Tuesday, prior to Game 1 of the World Series, commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark expressed tepid optimism.

But on the core economics, the piece both sides are most concerned with, the gap is large. The league and union have made one such proposal each, and neither was well received by the other party. More discussions are to come as the deadline nears.
A lockout would create the sport’s ninth work stoppage since 1972, and its first since the 1994-95 strike — ending a streak of 26 years of labor peace.
Owners see an advantage to locking out the players.
One club executive said owners would “lose all their leverage” if they did not institute a lockout right away in December.

“Why would the players ever reach an agreement then?” the executive said.

Owners might also have interest in testing the players’ resolve, and might not mind shifting free agency to a later, more condensed window on the calendar, either. A scramble to sign players, say, two weeks before spring training — were the CBA to be agreed to then — could work to the owners’ benefit.
 

E5 Yaz

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They want to revise the draft rules that currently guarantee high picks for low-finishing teams.
That's an interesting wrinkle. Wonder what the players mean by this
 

Harry Hooper

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That's an interesting wrinkle. Wonder what the players mean by this
Presumably it's some form of anti-tanking policy, so teams that strip mine a roster and operate with a minimal payroll don't automatically reap a top draft pick.
 

E5 Yaz

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Presumably it's some form of anti-tanking policy, so teams that strip mine a roster and operate with a minimal payroll don't automatically reap a top draft pick.
Seems hard to enforce, though. Basically saying that teams out of the playoff hunt would be discouraged from trying to build farm systems by trading off stars.
 

Rasputin

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Probably meant to dissuade teams from tanking for higher draft picks. How they'd actually go about this, I have no idea.
I'd do it by giving the top draft picks to the teams that finish closest to .500.
 

Daniel_Son

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I'd do it by giving the top draft picks to the teams that finish closest to .500.
I guess that's one way to do it. But then you've got an increased likelihood of last-place teams staying at the bottom with no help coming from the farm.
 

yeahlunchbox

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Wouldn't you just institute some kind of lottery for non-playoff teams like the NBA and NHL do? Last place team gets best odds at pick, but it's not guaranteed, so there's less reason to tank?
 

Daniel_Son

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I'd imagine it just means a lottery of some sort.
Wouldn't you just institute some kind of lottery for non-playoff teams like the NBA and NHL do? Last place team gets best odds at pick, but it's not guaranteed, so there's less reason to tank?
I think a lottery is the easy solution; however, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the current system, and I really don't think this is the hill that the MLBPA dies on. In terms of the systemic problems I'd like to see fixed in this version of the CBA, tanking is pretty far down on the list. It's not like the NBA where a #1 draft pick is guaranteed to change your franchise immediately, or even at all.
 

snowmanny

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I understand that some teams want the luxury tax threshold to drop, and I do agree that this would lessen the competitive advantage the Red Sox have from their fan interest (read:revenue). I’m not sure why we think the players would agree to this or why we think the owners would win the lockout.
 

Harry Hooper

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MLBPA has historically opposed setting a salary cap and setting a salary floor. A lottery-style solution is a way to prod teams to spend more on payroll without requiring a salary floor.

I understand that some teams want the luxury tax threshold to drop, and I do agree that this would lessen the competitive advantage the Red Sox have from their fan interest (read:revenue). I’m not sure why we think the players would agree to this or why we think the owners would win the lockout.
Reversing the trend of several decades, the owners won the last round of CBA negotiations. Why wouldn't they think they can win again?
 

shaggydog2000

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Wouldn't you just institute some kind of lottery for non-playoff teams like the NBA and NHL do? Last place team gets best odds at pick, but it's not guaranteed, so there's less reason to tank?
And yet teams in the NBA still tank hard. Now part of that is that the #1 pick is often worth so much more than the #2 or 3, and I don't think that is the same in MLB, but there still would be incentive to improve your chances of getting a good pick if your team isn't good anyway. A draft lottery wouldn't be a terrible idea, but I don't think it's a transformative one.
 

cannonball 1729

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I think a lottery is the easy solution; however, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the current system, and I really don't think this is the hill that the MLBPA dies on. In terms of the systemic problems I'd like to see fixed in this version of the CBA, tanking is pretty far down on the list. It's not like the NBA where a #1 draft pick is guaranteed to change your franchise immediately, or even at all.
From the MLBPA's perspective, when a third of the league is tanking at a given time, fewer teams are willing to give big money to free agents. I don't know that a lottery is the answer, but the PA definitely wants to do something that incentivizes more teams to pay for players.
 

Silverdude2167

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And yet teams in the NBA still tank hard. Now part of that is that the #1 pick is often worth so much more than the #2 or 3, and I don't think that is the same in MLB, but there still would be incentive to improve your chances of getting a good pick if your team isn't good anyway. A draft lottery wouldn't be a terrible idea, but I don't think it's a transformative one.
The best idea I have heard floated to prevent tanking came from an NHL writer.
They proposed the team who had the most accrued points after they had been eliminated from the playoffs got the first pick.

For example, if you are so bad that you have eliminated 10 games before the next worst team, you have 10 extra games to accrue points towards the 1st overall pick. So in the MLB just make it # of wins after being eliminated.

I do believe this would prevent teams from completely tanking and would not punish just bad teams at the same time.
 

Daniel_Son

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From the MLBPA's perspective, when a third of the league is tanking at a given time, fewer teams are willing to give big money to free agents. I don't know that a lottery is the answer, but the PA definitely wants to do something that incentivizes more teams to pay for players.
Agreed, but there are other ways to pay players that would fix bigger problems as well. Right now, the biggest problem in this sport is that the owners get a player's best years for pennies. The MLBPA wants owners to have less control of those years, coupled with arbitration beginning at two years and no service time shenanigans. If even two of those three demands goes through (and that's a big if, because owners seem to be completely opposed to it), I think that'd go a long way towards paying players what they're actually worth.
 

shaggydog2000

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The best idea I have heard floated to prevent tanking came from an NHL writer.
They proposed the team who had the most accrued points after they had been eliminated from the playoffs got the first pick.

For example, if you are so bad that you have eliminated 10 games before the next worst team, you have 10 extra games to accrue points towards the 1st overall pick. So in the MLB just make it # of wins after being eliminated.

I do believe this would prevent teams from completely tanking and would not punish just bad teams at the same time.
A little convoluted and is another system that rewards teams for being the best of a designated bad group. It also doesn't solve the issue of not building a team to be a winner. If you're not signing players in the offseason because you don't want to waste money making your bad team marginally better, this doesn't change anything. It might change the not putting out your best team towards the end of a losing season issue, but in MLB that would mean fans watching a bad team for 120+ games, and then not getting to see any young prospects they might possibly get excited about at the end of the season.
 

cannonball 1729

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Agreed, but there are other ways to pay players that would fix bigger problems as well. Right now, the biggest problem in this sport is that the owners get a player's best years for pennies. The MLBPA wants owners to have less control of those years, coupled with arbitration beginning at two years and no service time shenanigans. If even two of those three demands goes through (and that's a big if, because owners seem to be completely opposed to it), I think that'd go a long way towards paying players what they're actually worth.
I think they want both. Service time issues are the big problem for players under about 30 (with a cascading effect for older players), but for mid-level players later in their careers, having more possible places where they can grab a decent-sized contract would be huge.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I think a lottery is the easy solution; however, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the current system, and I really don't think this is the hill that the MLBPA dies on. In terms of the systemic problems I'd like to see fixed in this version of the CBA, tanking is pretty far down on the list. It's not like the NBA where a #1 draft pick is guaranteed to change your franchise immediately, or even at all.
When the Os are spending $25M in payroll (minus Chris Davis) that certainly impacts the amount of money being paid to MLBPA members. I'm not sure a payroll floor helps it - in the NBA, teams typically just give the additional money to the existing players, although admittedly the other way teams use the system is to use their cap space to suck up bad contracts and get assets, which probably does help MLBPA members.

Payroll floor in and of itself can't hurt the MLBPA but I doubt owners agree to this unless it is combined with a lower luxury tax is likely a non-starter.

And yet teams in the NBA still tank hard. Now part of that is that the #1 pick is often worth so much more than the #2 or 3, and I don't think that is the same in MLB, but there still would be incentive to improve your chances of getting a good pick if your team isn't good anyway. A draft lottery wouldn't be a terrible idea, but I don't think it's a transformative one.
As we have discussed before, the issue is that cost-controlled young talent is so supremely valuable and drafting high is the easiest way of getting that young talent, that even if teams won't care if they get an extra 10% chance of getting the #1 pick, a rational team that doesn't see itself as having a path to the championship should stop playing to win.

As we've also discussed before, there's nothing worse for a team than to win 81 games.

As long as the long-term incentives are tied to losing, teams are gong to tank. Which really sucks because sports is based on the premise that opposing teams actually want to win.
 

Daniel_Son

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I think they want both. Service time issues are the big problem for players under about 30 (with a cascading effect for older players), but for mid-level players later in their careers, having more possible places where they can grab a decent-sized contract would be huge.
I think lowering the average age of free agents would help solve the second issue.

According to this article from 2018, the average of players entering free agency for the first time is 30.6. A quick glance at Spottrac shows the average age for 2022 FAs (first time or otherwise) is 32 years old.

Let's say the owners get 4 years of control instead of 6, and arbitration starts in year 2. Under these new rules, Player X breaks into the big leagues at 23 years old. He's got arbitration at age 25, 26, then free agency at 27. Wouldn't it make sense that the contract offers he receives at 27 would be much higher than what he'd get if he was a free agent at 30+ years old? Those are prime years that teams would be paying for. A lower-tier team might not spring for a 32-year-old player, but a free agent in his prime? That's the kind of player that can quickly change a team's fortunes.
 

Rasputin

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I guess that's one way to do it. But then you've got an increased likelihood of last-place teams staying at the bottom with no help coming from the farm.
I don't think the draft is an accurate enough measure of talent to make that a thing, but it would be relatively easy to buy your way into being a mediocre team.
 

TheGazelle

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I think they want both. Service time issues are the big problem for players under about 30 (with a cascading effect for older players), but for mid-level players later in their careers, having more possible places where they can grab a decent-sized contract would be huge.
I agree that the service time issues should be a major issue for the players. The current system does not make sense, is susceptible to far too many chicanery, and is needlessly owner-friendly.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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This feels like a really long lockout based on where the two sides are. They both seem to be looking for real fundamental change. Good luck.
 

cannonball 1729

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I think lowering the average age of free agents would help solve the second issue.

According to this article from 2018, the average of players entering free agency for the first time is 30.6. A quick glance at Spottrac shows the average age for 2022 FAs (first time or otherwise) is 32 years old.

Let's say the owners get 4 years of control instead of 6, and arbitration starts in year 2. Under these new rules, Player X breaks into the big leagues at 23 years old. He's got arbitration at age 25, 26, then free agency at 27. Wouldn't it make sense that the contract offers he receives at 27 would be much higher than what he'd get if he was a free agent at 30+ years old? Those are prime years that teams would be paying for. A lower-tier team might not spring for a 32-year-old player, but a free agent in his prime? That's the kind of player that can quickly change a team's fortunes.
I mean, these are all good arguments to fight for a change in service time. But there's no reason for them not to fight for both. And the association also represents a lot of players who are over thirty right now for whom service time is no longer an issue.
 

OCD SS

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This feels like a really long lockout based on where the two sides are. They both seem to be looking for real fundamental change. Good luck.
Kevin Goldstein has been pointing out that if there is no agreement by December 5, the lockout is basically automatic as a point of law, rather than an aggressive move by the owners. Everyone should be prepared for that and not freak out, but of course the media will…
 

Daniel_Son

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I mean, these are all good arguments to fight for a change in service time. But there's no reason for them not to fight for both. And the association also represents a lot of players who are over thirty right now for whom service time is no longer an issue.
You're right. No reason to not fight for both. But if they can't get both, I'd rather see them take a stand on restructuring free agency/service time and keep the draft as-is.
 

RedOctober3829

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What about letting college players declare for the draft whenever they want instead of holding them there for 3 years? It’s never made sense. That would get players into pro ball a couple years earlier and help get to free agency sooner.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Couldn’t “tanking” be avoided by pushing the trade deadline up the end of June? Cubs were still somewhat in the hunt then.
Or at least a stiff penalty for a second deadline that ends in early August somehow?
 

Hank Scorpio

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How unified are “the owners”?

I can’t imagine the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers are thrilled about harsher penalties for going over the luxury tax threshold.

My feeling is that it would do little to nothing to stymie the $30-40M/yr contracts, but at the same time make those same contracts be crippling.

The whole competitive balance mantra of MLB is tired and overdone at this point. The problem right now isn’t the Yankees and Dodgers, it’s that the Orioles, Pirates, Rockies, and others are making approximately no attempt at fielding a successful team.

Can’t keep Mookie because of a luxury tax. Gotta have a luxury tax so guys like Peter “Magikarp” Angelos can line his pockets.

Owners: “We don’t want to spend money, but we’re tired of being embarrassed, so you guys stop spending money too.”
 

soxhop411

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How unified are “the owners”?

I can’t imagine the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers are thrilled about harsher penalties for going over the luxury tax threshold.

My feeling is that it would do little to nothing to stymie the $30-40M/yr contracts, but at the same time make those same contracts be crippling.

The whole competitive balance mantra of MLB is tired and overdone at this point. The problem right now isn’t the Yankees and Dodgers, it’s that the Orioles, Pirates, Rockies, and others are making approximately no attempt at fielding a successful team.

Can’t keep Mookie because of a luxury tax. Gotta have a luxury tax so guys like Peter “Magikarp” Angelos can line his pockets.

Owners: “We don’t want to spend money, but we’re tired of being embarrassed, so you guys stop spending money too.”
Yes. Exactly this. See Trevor story torching the Rockies ownership and Front office after the trade deadline this year.

and Like I have said about 10 times this season, the so called “Luxury tax” is a salary cap just with a different name. There is a reason the Sox and the Yankees and the dodgers rarely if ever go above the highest threshold since that idiocy was implemented. The penalties for doing so are drastic that it can cripple a franchise for constantly going over. And that’s not even getting to the asinine caps on draft spending and the penalties for exceeding those as well. I mean we all saw how the Yankees and Sox spent in FA when those rules were not in place.
Mlb should be more worried about the cheap-ass owners who not only don’t spend money but don’t give a shit about fielding a competitive team. Those types of owners are bad for the game and are the ones who need to be “punished” Not the ones who actually want to spend money to field a team.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Yes. Exactly this. See Trevor story torching the Rockies ownership and Front office after the trade deadline this year.

and Like I have said about 10 times this season, the so called “Luxury tax” is a salary cap just with a different name. There is a reason the Sox and the Yankees and the dodgers rarely if ever go above the highest threshold since that idiocy was implemented. The penalties for doing so are drastic that it can cripple a franchise for constantly going over. And that’s not even getting to the asinine caps on draft spending and the penalties for exceeding those as well. I mean we all saw how the Yankees and Sox spent in FA when those rules were not in place.
Mlb should be more worried about the cheap-ass owners who not only don’t spend money but don’t give a shit about fielding a competitive team. Those types of owners are bad for the game and are the ones who need to be “punished” Not the ones who actually want to spend money to field a team.
Isn’t there a $100m “floor” proposal too?
I actually like the cap. I hate seeing the same teams over and over but it needs to also have a high floor and higher ceiling.
Somewhere between a $100m differential
 

BringBackMo

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Mlb should be more worried about the cheap-ass owners who not only don’t spend money but don’t give a shit about fielding a competitive team. Those types of owners are bad for the game and are the ones who need to be “punished” Not the ones who actually want to spend money to field a team.
You’re absolutely right, of course. The problem is that MLB *is* those owners. There is no far-seeing, third-party entity making decisions that are objectively in the best interest of the game. It’s owners all the way down.

Is there another established professional sports league that isn’t just trying to slow the increase in salaries, but is actually trying to reduce in real dollars the total amount that teams can spend on salary? And keep in mind that this is happening at a time when the league recently signed national tv contract extensions that are estimated by Forbes to increase tv revenues by 65 percent, and when total local television rights revenues are estimated by this Fangraphs writer to have increased by a third in the past four years.

I mean, that’s completely shameless and embarrassing, yet here we are. Owners all the way down.
 

lexrageorge

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I do think the owners feel they have a lot of leverage; otherwise, why would they open with a huge drop in the luxury tax threshold? And they may be correct, in that few care that much if spring training gets cancelled or if the season starts a couple of weeks late.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Is there another established professional sports league that isn’t just trying to slow the increase in salaries, but is actually trying to reduce in real dollars the total amount that teams can spend on salary?
Is this question rhetorical? Frankly, that's what every sports league is trying to figure out how to do, particularly after the NBA and NFL have been able to exercise such control over their payroll costs.

Owners are owners. They want to make money. Most of them actually want to make a lot of money. One generally doesn't get to be a billionaire without being motivated to make a sh*t ton of money. Salaries are the biggest expense and in baseball one they really can't control. So they want cost certainty.

Sure it may sound stupid to me (I mean, do you really need another billion dollars) but that's probably has a lot to do why I am posting on a message board critiquing owners from the basement of my mom's house instead of being, well, an owner (of sorts).
 

BringBackMo

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Is this question rhetorical?
It wasn’t rhetorical at all. I honestly couldn’t recall off the top of my head another established league publicly arguing for a reduction in real dollars in the total amount that teams may spend on payroll. We know that leagues are constantly pushing to slow the growth of salaries, and that salary caps
are used for this purpose. But is there another league where the owners have gone public about their desire to actually cut the amount teams can spend? There may well be! I’m prepared to be embarrassed by an avalanche of examples. But I couldn’t recall it.

EDIT: I believe that baseball is one of the only sports where the mechanism used to control team salaries isn’t tied to league revenues. So the NBA and NFL may have seen dips in the year-to-year salary cap, but those would have been tied to fluctuations in revenues, not negotiated decreases. I’m asking about whether we’ve seen a league’s owners attempt to negotiate not just a lowered rate of payroll growth in a new contract, but an actual decrease in team payrolls.
 
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wade boggs chicken dinner

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It wasn’t rhetorical at all. I honestly couldn’t recall off the top of my head another established league publicly arguing for a reduction in real dollars in the total amount that teams may spend on payroll. We know that leagues are constantly pushing to slow the growth of salaries, and that salary caps
are used for this purpose. But is there another league where the owners have gone public about their desire to actually cut the amount teams can spend? There may well be! I’m prepared to be embarrassed by an avalanche of examples. But I couldn’t recall it.

EDIT: I believe that baseball is one of the only sports where the mechanism used to control team salaries isn’t tied to league revenues. So the NBA and NFL may have seen dips in the year-to-year salary cap, but those would have been tied to fluctuations in revenues, not negotiated decreases. I’m asking about whether we’ve seen a league’s owners attempt to negotiate not just a lowered rate of payroll growth in a new contract, but an actual decrease in team payrolls.
The point is that both the NFL and NBA were clamoring so loudly for "cost certainty" is directly why they were able to institute salary caps.

Just from the NBA side, see this article - https://my.vanderbilt.edu/vrooman/files/2016/06/Vrooman-perfectgame.pdf. While the main reason publicly offered by the NBA for the salary cap in 1984-85 was "competitive balance" - as the owners warned that the bigger market teams would outbid smaller market teams for free agents - note that according to the article (see page 19), from the end of the NBA/ABA bidding war to 1983, NBA player salaries constituted approximately 70% of NBA revenues, teams were losing money, and the NBA was openly considering contraction. The salary cap was devised by Gary Bettman to give the NBA owners cost certainty.
 

Manuel Aristides

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As far as re-imagining the draft: I'd love to see baseball reimagine the draft around a "wheel" system, where picks are allocated evenly across several years and aren't related to record. If any sport is positioned to try this, it's baseball, where top picks are less garaunteed than any other sport to make an impact and lower picks have more potential than elsewhere to out-perform their slot and make an impact anyway.

Here's an old article from Grantland (RIP) tackling the idea as it applies to the NBA. This is probably a pipe dream but any opportunity to talk about it is a good one IMO.
 

snowmanny

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Isn’t there a $100m “floor” proposal too?
I actually like the cap. I hate seeing the same teams over and over but it needs to also have a high floor and higher ceiling.
Somewhere between a $100m differential
Boston has generally had a top 3-ish payroll, not because it’s a top 3 population city but because Red Sox fans support the team with strong cable viewership and high ticket prices and so forth.

I am violently opposed to any plan that diverts the money that you and I spend on the Red Sox and their sponsors from the Sox payroll to the Marlins or to Liverpool or to John Henry’s yacht upkeep or to the MLB Foundation or to anywhere else.
 

Bertha

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Does ownership leverage decline due to real or perceived threat of anti-trust status change?
 

Daniel_Son

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How unified are “the owners”?

I can’t imagine the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers are thrilled about harsher penalties for going over the luxury tax threshold.

My feeling is that it would do little to nothing to stymie the $30-40M/yr contracts, but at the same time make those same contracts be crippling.

The whole competitive balance mantra of MLB is tired and overdone at this point. The problem right now isn’t the Yankees and Dodgers, it’s that the Orioles, Pirates, Rockies, and others are making approximately no attempt at fielding a successful team.

Can’t keep Mookie because of a luxury tax. Gotta have a luxury tax so guys like Peter “Magikarp” Angelos can line his pockets.

Owners: “We don’t want to spend money, but we’re tired of being embarrassed, so you guys stop spending money too.”
We've had 15 different teams win championships this century, more than any other major men's sport. The general idea of competitive balance is sound - as a baseball fan, having the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers spend big to win the WS every year sucks.

Implementing the salary floor that the owners want, coupled with the higher ceiling that the MLBPA wants, would help alleviate the "do-nothing owner" problem. You don't want to spend $100 million to field a competitive team? Fine - either pay up in taxes or sell to someone who cares about growing the sport.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
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Does ownership leverage decline due to real or perceived threat of anti-trust status change?
It would decline if there was a legitimate chance that the antitrust exemption might be rescinded.
But AFAIK, that's not happening any time in the near-future. Or probably the long-future either.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Mar 11, 2007
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Boston has generally had a top 3-ish payroll, not because it’s a top 3 population city but because Red Sox fans support the team with strong cable viewership and high ticket prices and so forth.

I am violently opposed to any plan that diverts the money that you and I spend on the Red Sox and their sponsors from the Sox payroll to the Marlins or to Liverpool or to John Henry’s yacht upkeep or to the MLB Foundation or to anywhere else.
Yeah... I'm aware of the Sox buying power and where it puts them in relation to other teams. I also would like the league to be more competitive and think a combination of a salary cap that is connected to a salary floor can work and still allow the Sox to stay at the top of the food chain assuming they don't make a bunch of dumb moves. Small markets teams would still need to be more agile. The Owner asking for $180M cap is ridiculous.
I honestly don't know what I think a cap (preferably a "soft" cap, as it currently is that can be reset and readjusted) should be or what the floor should be either. What about ideas like having each team be allowed to have one player whose salary doesn't go "towards" the cap? Penalties for teams that sell off talent (Rays, A's, Pirates... all to varying degrees of general success).
I don't think the Sox, Yankees, etc... should just be allowed to spend an unlimited amount. It can snowball and turn lesser teams basically into farm systems for the wealthier teams. And without a cap, it makes it harder for those lesser teams to claw their way out and makes a small bad decision into an albatross for years.
 

allmanbro

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The attempt to push the cap down to $180M as revenues continue to grow is really insidious. It's pretty transparent that it's not about competitive balance, but about salary suppression. I hope the online hype machine can get as angry at this as they get about things like the Mookie or Lindor trades (since these rules are why that happened).

BTW, I (partly tongue in cheek) blame this all on the Yankees. When people talk about high spending teams, I think it often gets forgotten just how much the Yankees were outspending everyone else. In 2005, their opening day payroll was $206M and the next three highest were $121M (Sox) $104M (Mets) $95M (Phils). THAT is a payroll disparity that is a problem, and that was at least what made the idea of a tax threshold palatable. These days, the top 6 or 8 teams are usually all pretty close, hovering just under the threshold (the Dodgers this year being an exception, but I don't think they would stay at this high of a payroll for long even if nothing changed).
 

shaggydog2000

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The point is that both the NFL and NBA were clamoring so loudly for "cost certainty" is directly why they were able to institute salary caps.

Just from the NBA side, see this article - https://my.vanderbilt.edu/vrooman/files/2016/06/Vrooman-perfectgame.pdf. While the main reason publicly offered by the NBA for the salary cap in 1984-85 was "competitive balance" - as the owners warned that the bigger market teams would outbid smaller market teams for free agents - note that according to the article (see page 19), from the end of the NBA/ABA bidding war to 1983, NBA player salaries constituted approximately 70% of NBA revenues, teams were losing money, and the NBA was openly considering contraction. The salary cap was devised by Gary Bettman to give the NBA owners cost certainty.
This is a terrible idea because:
1. Casual fans will have no idea of how the draft works any more
2. The die hards and pros will still have to consult a chart to figure out what their team's pick will be next year
3. There will be fans who root for teams that are bad and are 20+ years from getting the #1 pick. Those fans will be pissed, and not comforted by the fact that they'll get the #3 pick in 5 years.

People understand drafting in reverse order of your final record. People understand lotteries, if not the probabilities behind them. They will not understand the wheel, and it robs bad teams of the fan interest that goes along with drafting high and having top prospects. It has the potential to wreck some markets. Owners and fans will hate the idea.
 

allmanbro

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The best idea I have heard floated to prevent tanking came from an NHL writer.
They proposed the team who had the most accrued points after they had been eliminated from the playoffs got the first pick.

For example, if you are so bad that you have eliminated 10 games before the next worst team, you have 10 extra games to accrue points towards the 1st overall pick. So in the MLB just make it # of wins after being eliminated.

I do believe this would prevent teams from completely tanking and would not punish just bad teams at the same time.
It certainly has no chance of happening this year, and probably no chance in general, but I like this idea a lot. It may not be the best in terms of overall distributive justice (I'm not really sure either way), but it disincentives full tanking, and most importantly I just love the idea that fans of bad teams would be totally, unreservedly rooting for their team to win for the last part of the season. No need to have that nagging hope they lose and get a better pick.

Weirdly, a team might get hurt by being in a really bad division, if they are eliminated from the WC but not division when a team in another division would be fully eliminated. I don't see a problem with that, but I can see why one might.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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The proposed $100 million salary floor is interesting. Looking at Spotrac (not sure if there's a better source), 12 teams were under that threshold for 2021, some by just a few million (e.g. Milwaukee, at $97.4 million), some barely halfway there (e.g. Cleveland, at $50.2 million). If you add up the total shortfalls by those 12 teams, that's an extra $284.5 million that would be going into players' direct deposits if each team spent up to the floor, which works out to about 7% of the ~$4 billion in total player salaries league-wide this year. That may not be worth accepting in exchange for what amounts to a fixed salary cap, and fighting for a defined percentage of revenue may well be the better path, but that's real money going from the owners to the players.

The devil is in the details, of course. How would the floor be tracked, on a rolling basis or an annual basis? What are the penalties for falling below, would it be just a payout of the difference to the team's current players, or would it be more punitive, like docking draft picks or reduction in revenue sharing income for repeated failures to meet the floor? The MLBPA would probably prefer something that incentivizes teams to go out and participate in the free agent market, driving up salaries for everyone, so the nature of the penalties beyond just a make-up payment would be a point of contention as well due to the potential knock-on effects.

EDIT: I should probably also do the analysis for the reverse, the teams that are over the proposed $180 million number. That's a total of 7 teams, ranging from crazy over the line (Dodgers, $267.2 million) to the barely over (Angels, at $180.35 million), for a total overage of $153.5 million. Assuming no team spent over $180 million nor under $100 million, that's a net increase in player salaries of $131 million, amounting to an increase of about 3.23% to total player salary. Again, not better than tying spending to revenue, but better than status quo.

EDIT 2: Looking at the Spotrac chart again, that appears to be just for the 26-man roster. Changing the drop-down menu to "Luxury Tax Allocations" and using the "Luxury Tax Payroll" column to presumably get full 40-man payrolls (not sure if it's going by actual salary or AAV), the numbers are very different: 5 teams under $100 million by a combined $131.2 million, 9 teams above $180 by a combined $278.2 million. From that perspective, looks like a worse deal for the players.
 
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BringBackMo

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Jul 15, 2005
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The point is that both the NFL and NBA were clamoring so loudly for "cost certainty" is directly why they were able to institute salary caps.

Just from the NBA side, see this article - https://my.vanderbilt.edu/vrooman/files/2016/06/Vrooman-perfectgame.pdf. While the main reason publicly offered by the NBA for the salary cap in 1984-85 was "competitive balance" - as the owners warned that the bigger market teams would outbid smaller market teams for free agents - note that according to the article (see page 19), from the end of the NBA/ABA bidding war to 1983, NBA player salaries constituted approximately 70% of NBA revenues, teams were losing money, and the NBA was openly considering contraction. The salary cap was devised by Gary Bettman to give the NBA owners cost certainty.
I don't mean to turn this thread into a back and forth on this subject, but I think it's worth pursuing this question further because I want to get a sense of whether others are seeing in this negotiating approach by owners something as radical as I am. The owners’ reported proposal is not to slow the growth of player salaries in the next collective bargaining agreement, it is to actually cut them.

I’m not sure that in evaluating this question it is particularly helpful to keep bringing up the circumstances that led to the implementation of the first salary caps. I agree with you 100 percent that salary caps, luxury taxes, etc. were created to suppress player salaries. There is no question about that and there is no part of what I am asking that doesn't accept that. But the caps have typically worked to slow the growth of salaries rather than cut them. In fact, the caps have typically risen along with revenues. So the question is, in the salary cap/luxury tax era, as one collective bargaining agreement expired and negotiations began on the next one, has there been a case where owners have publicly demanded that players accept a lower salary cap than existed in the previous CBA? I'm not asking whether they've demanded a lower percentage of growth over the previous salary cap/luxury tax. I'm asking whether they have said, The salary cap in the just-expired CBA was X. In the new CBA we want it to be Y percent lower than X.

Again, there may be multiple examples of this kind of thing but I am unaware of them. I’m banging this drum because I wonder what this seemingly radical stance augurs for the stand-off to come. As I posted earlier, MLB broadcast revenues are estimated to be up significantly, from both national and regional outlets. We know that franchise valuations have continued to grow rapidly. The game appears to be flush with cash. Can the players accept making not just a lower percentage of those growing revenues but fewer actual dollars in their paychecks?

I did find the analysis by @HowBoutDemSox intriguing. I hadn’t considered the degree to which a raised salary floor might mitigate the overall impact on player salaries, but even his follow-up note seemed to indicate that the impact might be smaller than it seems at first blush.

I also agree that there is likely a negotiation angle to what the owners are proposing at the moment. But this opening salvo strikes me as unusually aggressive and I wonder if we’re going to be in for a much longer stoppage than many of us are expecting.
 
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