The Mainboard MLB Lockout Thread

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OCD SS

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We're a month and a half in since MLB ownership locked out all players on the 40-man roster the second the CBA expired, bringing to an end the longest recent run of uninterrupted run of labor peace in professional sports. At the deadline the MLBPA had submitted a plan focused on the economics of the game. Manfred claims that the League submitted a counter proposal, but the union disagreed, noting it was only a promise to issue a proposal if the union dropped key demands. Yes, "...if it had been accepted, would have provided a pretty clear path to make an agreement" per Manfred, but it also would've been tantamount to the MLBPA just accepting whatever Ownership wanted.

Since then, it's been determined that the average MLB salary has dropped more than 6% since 2017. Yes, there was a rush to spend on free agents just before the lockout, but that was based on a bumper crop of elite free agents, which has not been the norm in the past few years, and I think it's worth noting that none of the teams issuing those contracts, excepting the Mets, are even close to the CBT threshold. This spending spree is not an example that the players are getting plenty of money and the current system is just fine.

The MLB network has also declined to bring back Ken Rosenthal because he was even slightly critical of Manfred. That is not a good look for the network as supposedly independent purveyor of journalism, but I also don't think it bodes well for negotiations that are all to likely to be both contentious and ultimately become very public.

With the owners set to deliver their own economic proposal, let's be clear: this was always going to come down to money, but now it's been foregrounded as the league has taken rule changes to the on-field game off the table. The players gave up a fair amount of ground in the last few CBAs. Whether Tony Clark totally botched those negotiations, or the MLBPA recognized that they weren't then ready for a protracted labor battle, but are now, is up for debate; I think there's also a case to be made that the players really didn't think owners would fully excercise the powers inherent in those agreements, but a decline in player salaries as revenues going into the game and franchise valuations are on the rise speaks to why the MLBPA is not happy with the status quo.

The players are looking to get paid more, earlier, when they are actually producing. To that end they are looking to end service time manipulation, and maybe reduce the amount of service time before they hit free agency, but of course the owners are having none of it; their proposals so far would ultimately reduce the amount they pay out for labor. I think we'll have a good idea of how far apart the sides are tomorrow, even if I don't expect the proposal to be immediately leaked to the press, and I don't think I'm the only one who isn't optimistic that this is going to be solved quickly.

We're not going to have lots else to talk about around here, so buckle up.
 

LogansDad

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I think we are going to lose a large portion, maybe all, of the season, and unless something changes drastically, I lay the blame for that 100% at the feet of Manfred and the owners.

The day of the lockout, Manfred issued a statement about how the week before teams had spent unprecedented amounts of money on free agents, which was such a ridiculous statement that I couldn't even take it seriously. It isn't about Scherzer's contract for the players, it's about the minor leaguers and the guys who spend their mid twenties getting raked over the coals trying to succeed enough to get maybe one big free agent check. Manfred's statement was so disingenuous that I wouldn't be uncomfortable throwing around the word "collusion" about these free agents all being signed so early in an offseason when we knew starting a season in the spring was dicey at best.

The players have much, much better representation this time around, and I hope he rakes the owners over the coals to get them what they deserve.
 

jon abbey

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The MLB network has also declined to bring back Ken Rosenthal because he was even slightly critical of Manfred.
A little bit of pushback here: his contract expired after last season, he is still under contract and working for Fox Sports and The Athletic, and the one outlet that reported this story (badly and with a bias) was the NY Post, so overlapping ownership with Fox Sports. Rosenthal is still the sideline guy at the World Series.

Also they don't say it in the story but I am pretty certain any interference from Manfred wasn't about personal criticism, but that Rosenthal helped break the cheating Astros story which MLB would have much preferred to never emerge.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Rosenthal was a high priced reporter for a network with declining revenues and an uncertain future. I think this is similar to when ESPN let go of Jayson Stark, it happens.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I think we are going to lose a large portion, maybe all, of the season, and unless something changes drastically, I lay the blame for that 100% at the feet of Manfred and the owners.
Don't the players have the best deal among the US pro sports? If so, how can you lay the blame 100% on the owners?

I don't really care one way or the other; agree with everyone else that there's not going to be baseball for a while. I hope the players are prepared or it's going to be a bloodbath come July.
 

OCD SS

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A little bit of pushback here: his contract expired after last season, he is still under contract and working for Fox Sports and The Athletic, and the one outlet that reported this story (badly and with a bias) was the NY Post, so overlapping ownership with Fox Sports. Rosenthal is still the sideline guy at the World Series.

Also they don't say it in the story but I am pretty certain any interference from Manfred wasn't about personal criticism, but that Rosenthal helped break the cheating Astros story which MLB would have much preferred to never emerge.
That’s certainly fair; I certainly have no inside scoop of what went down via a vis Rosenthal, but the Fox report isn’t the only time I’ve heard baseball commentators opining that Mandred is a bit thin skinned. That Rosenthal was sidelined (but still paid) certainly made it seem like this treatment was punitive. With regards to MLB owning and operating a media outlet that purports to cover the game like no one else, it is not a good look that there is no editorial firewall as would be expected with most legitimate news organizations. I do think it’s safe to say that we can expect that to color their coverage of the lockout.
 

brs3

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I think Covid has given the owners a peek at what they can sustain as far as loss of revenue from every area, so I pessimistically expect no MLB in 2022 and maybe beyond. The fact that nothing has happened in a month leads me to believe the plan is to play it out in the court of public opinion before actually sitting down. P&C are supposed to report 1 month from now. As long as the owners don't go the route of replacement players again, there probably won't be any reason for the government to step in to push either side. The '95 lockout was from August 12, 1994 - March 31, 1995. Fans have recently experienced the season being delayed and not being able to go to games, so it'll be just like that, but for a different reason.

Vince McMahon should buy a few indy teams and coordinate with indy leagues to establish an XBL. DHs all around, computerized umps, home run derbys to settle ties after 12 innings, everything and anything.
 

lexrageorge

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Aren't the players and owners supposed to meet this week?

Seems like the 2 sides are willing to discuss changes to the draft to avoid tanking, which benefits players and fans. I'm also not convinced that the universal DH is off the table; wouldn't be surprised the owners are just holding that back for now.

Still, I see the two sides are pretty far off in other areas like service time manipulation, revenue sharing, CBT thresholds and floors, tax penalties, arbitration. Games will be lost; just hard to put a number on it. I do agree that the owners have a long leash and deep war chest, but the players, as angry as they are, seem to realize it (unlike the NHLPA in 2004), so am cautiously optimistic that a season will be salvaged. But it could be June or July.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Aren't the players and owners supposed to meet this week?
They are meeting today. The owners will probably smile and nod and talk about long-term "health" of the sport. The players will ask where the owners' counterproposal is. The owners will say that the players need to take some things off the table. They will have lunch and schedule the next meeting. They will come out and probably talk about how discussions are "constructive" but there's a "long way to go."

I hope they get a good lunch out of it.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2022/01/11/mlb-lockout-news-thursday-meeting-scheduled-between-league-players/9171298002/
 

8slim

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I subscribe to the life rule of "Don't give someone a reason to *not* miss you". MLB delaying, or scrapping, the 2022 season would be a disaster for the health of the game. The league never truly recovered from 1994-95, and now they seem intent on giving a whole new generation of fans a reason to cynically bail.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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MLB's revenues in 1995 were $1.4B, which is probably something like $2.5B when accounting for inflation). They were over $10B in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

This is a sport that could have literally been the sole focus of an entire country but couldn't agree on how to put games on.

If I am reading the tea leaves correctly (and maybe I am not) but the owners are (i) dead set on getting what they want and (ii) while sure, there will be a near-term dip in revenues, they don't believe that there will be any long-term effect on overall revenues and cost certainty will certainly have a positive effect on teams' finances.

It's sad that the owners treat the game like the business and the players kind of do but most fans cannot. So we get the short end of the stick (high prices for merchandise, tax dollars for stadiums, outrageous prices for tickets and concessions, etc.).
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I think Covid has given the owners a peek at what they can sustain as far as loss of revenue from every area, so I pessimistically expect no MLB in 2022 and maybe beyond. The fact that nothing has happened in a month leads me to believe the plan is to play it out in the court of public opinion before actually sitting down. P&C are supposed to report 1 month from now. As long as the owners don't go the route of replacement players again, there probably won't be any reason for the government to step in to push either side. The '95 lockout was from August 12, 1994 - March 31, 1995. Fans have recently experienced the season being delayed and not being able to go to games, so it'll be just like that, but for a different reason.

Vince McMahon should buy a few indy teams and coordinate with indy leagues to establish an XBL. DHs all around, computerized umps, home run derbys to settle ties after 12 innings, everything and anything.
There will certainly be no replacement players this time around. In 1994-95, it was a player strike, not a lock-out. The owners brought in replacement players because the real players were choosing not to show up. That's not the case now. The owners shut things down. They can't exactly open things back up without allowing MLBPA players on the field.
 

Sin Duda

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The players have much, much better representation this time around, and I hope he rakes the owners over the coals to get them what they deserve.
Thanks everyone for laying it out for us and keeping it an even-tempered discussion. I dislike this part of baseball, so I've not been following. Who are the key representatives on the Players' side and the Owners' side? And when do we get to nominate Jon Abbey to negotiate on behalf of the fans ;)?
 

leftfieldlegacy

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It's not just the players, owners and fans affected this time. If we get through March Madness (April 3) and there is no MLB to pick up the betting action, the sports betting sites are going to take a major hit to their revenue stream. Not to mention all the income that the state governments won't see flowing their way.
 

jon abbey

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Thanks everyone for laying it out for us and keeping it an even-tempered discussion. I dislike this part of baseball, so I've not been following. Who are the key representatives on the Players' side and the Owners' side? And when do we get to nominate Jon Abbey to negotiate on behalf of the fans ;)?
Now this is the rare job I actually would accept, let me know if it’s being offered. :)
 

ehaz

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Thanks everyone for laying it out for us and keeping it an even-tempered discussion. I dislike this part of baseball, so I've not been following. Who are the key representatives on the Players' side and the Owners' side? And when do we get to nominate Jon Abbey to negotiate on behalf of the fans ;)?
Dan Halem (for MLB) and Bruce Meyer (MLBPA) are the lead negotiators. As others mentioned, MLBPA's beefed up their representation this time around, and I don't think they will be backing down without some serious concessions from the owners after the previous owner-friendly CBA.
 

OCD SS

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They are meeting today. The owners will probably smile and nod and talk about long-term "health" of the sport. The players will ask where the owners' counterproposal is. The owners will say that the players need to take some things off the table...

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2022/01/11/mlb-lockout-news-thursday-meeting-scheduled-between-league-players/9171298002/
This is essentially what the owners did on December 1. The good news is that the owners had a proposal ready today, the bad news is that it wasn't very appealing to the players (which I guess we should've expected.
 

soxhop411

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This is essentially what the owners did on December 1. The good news is that the owners had a proposal ready today, the bad news is that it wasn't very appealing to the players (which I guess we should've expected.
Meanwhile NBC sports Chicago, tweeted out this story with this headline, and no name on the byline, and not only pissed the fans off but royally pissed off Jeff Passan
View: https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1481768440641855488

I most certainly did not report that. So please fix your headline, delete your tweet or take me entirely out of this poor excuse for whatever you're trying to do.
they (NBC) ended up not only deleting the tweet but tried to memory hole the article as well
https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/white-sox/reports-mlb-proposes-return-work-mlbpa-balks
 

OCD SS

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MLB's revenues in 1995 were $1.4B, which is probably something like $2.5B when accounting for inflation). They were over $10B in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

This is a sport that could have literally been the sole focus of an entire country but couldn't agree on how to put games on.

If I am reading the tea leaves correctly (and maybe I am not) but the owners are (i) dead set on getting what they want and (ii) while sure, there will be a near-term dip in revenues, they don't believe that there will be any long-term effect on overall revenues and cost certainty will certainly have a positive effect on teams' finances.

It's sad that the owners treat the game like the business and the players kind of do but most fans cannot. So we get the short end of the stick (high prices for merchandise, tax dollars for stadiums, outrageous prices for tickets and concessions, etc.).
I think the owners are being a bit tone deaf, and are assuming that a PR line of "spoiled athletes getting paid millions to play a kids game" line will carry the day. I think that misses very real changes to the general public's understanding of income inequality, and that Manfred is a terrible choice to be placed front and center to try and deliver this message. I can't tell if the owners are still holding the line on the idea that they don't make any money, so they can't afford to pay the players more, but that's getting patently ridiculous. They are at least couching the same argument in the guise of competitive balance and maintaining the 6 year reserve clause, because (supposedly) small market teams won't be able to compete without such structural help. While I think anyone can acknowledge having more money is an advantage, I find such an argument dubious since we have very little data to go on but what ownership groups tell us about the state of their finances, but it seems like every team could easily spend more and remain profitable.

So I'm finding Grant Washburn's article on measuring ownership performance, which is pretty much about ownership spending, very interesting. With the caveat about the inexact data available on team finances, he works through team payrolls as a percentage of revenue, and then normalizes it against other economic variables to show how much teams could be spending to improve their chances. That the Rays could easily be spending more is not a surprise. That the Yankee's Hal Stienbrenner is the worst owner for spending (by the WBRO metric he came up with) is. Circling this finding back to the CBA negotiations, it shows why owners would want to lower the CBT threshold, and why even Hal was in favor of it: they can use it and the penalties that go with it as an excuse to treat the thresholds has a hard salary cap, and that keeps their spending down while not really impacting their revenues, so they can just pocket a lot more money (for comparison, the only other teams lower than them for 2019 were the Rays and Pirates, and the only other teams close are the Marlins, Orioles, and White Sox).
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I think the owners are being a bit tone deaf, and are assuming that a PR line of "spoiled athletes getting paid millions to play a kids game" line will carry the day. I think that misses very real changes to the general public's understanding of income inequality, and that Manfred is a terrible choice to be placed front and center to try and deliver this message. I can't tell if the owners are still holding the line on the idea that they don't make any money, so they can't afford to pay the players more, but that's getting patently ridiculous. They are at least couching the same argument in the guise of competitive balance and maintaining the 6 year reserve clause, because (supposedly) small market teams won't be able to compete without such structural help. While I think anyone can acknowledge having more money is an advantage, I find such an argument dubious since we have very little data to go on but what ownership groups tell us about the state of their finances, but it seems like every team could easily spend more and remain profitable.

So I'm finding Grant Washburn's article on measuring ownership performance, which is pretty much about ownership spending, very interesting. With the caveat about the inexact data available on team finances, he works through team payrolls as a percentage of revenue, and then normalizes it against other economic variables to show how much teams could be spending to improve their chances. That the Rays could easily be spending more is not a surprise. That the Yankee's Hal Stienbrenner is the worst owner for spending (by the WBRO metric he came up with) is. Circling this finding back to the CBA negotiations, it shows why owners would want to lower the CBT threshold, and why even Hal was in favor of it: they can use it and the penalties that go with it as an excuse to treat the thresholds has a hard salary cap, and that keeps their spending down while not really impacting their revenues, so they can just pocket a lot more money (for comparison, the only other teams lower than them for 2019 were the Rays and Pirates, and the only other teams close are the Marlins, Orioles, and White Sox).
Sounds like an interesting article; thanks for posting and I'll have to read it later today.

I just want to point out that I'm not sure that the owners care about PR anymore. Almost two years ago, Baseball had an opportunity to be the only major sport playing in the basically the entire world with everyone looking for something to do and Baseball couldn't figure out how to get on the field. I think baseball is a lot like hockey when Bettman was running things - they want to at the very least get the sport in line with the other major sports and get something very very close to a salary cap and they don't care how many games are lost and what the public thinks.

Maybe I'm wrong but that's the impression I'm getting just from random things "insiders" are saying (mostly on the radio).

Which absolutely sucks for the sport and the fans but that's where we are.
 

jose melendez

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I think the owners are being a bit tone deaf, and are assuming that a PR line of "spoiled athletes getting paid millions to play a kids game" line will carry the day. I think that misses very real changes to the general public's understanding of income inequality, and that Manfred is a terrible choice to be placed front and center to try and deliver this message. I can't tell if the owners are still holding the line on the idea that they don't make any money, so they can't afford to pay the players more, but that's getting patently ridiculous. They are at least couching the same argument in the guise of competitive balance and maintaining the 6 year reserve clause, because (supposedly) small market teams won't be able to compete without such structural help. While I think anyone can acknowledge having more money is an advantage, I find such an argument dubious since we have very little data to go on but what ownership groups tell us about the state of their finances, but it seems like every team could easily spend more and remain profitable.

So I'm finding Grant Washburn's article on measuring ownership performance, which is pretty much about ownership spending, very interesting. With the caveat about the inexact data available on team finances, he works through team payrolls as a percentage of revenue, and then normalizes it against other economic variables to show how much teams could be spending to improve their chances. That the Rays could easily be spending more is not a surprise. That the Yankee's Hal Stienbrenner is the worst owner for spending (by the WBRO metric he came up with) is. Circling this finding back to the CBA negotiations, it shows why owners would want to lower the CBT threshold, and why even Hal was in favor of it: they can use it and the penalties that go with it as an excuse to treat the thresholds has a hard salary cap, and that keeps their spending down while not really impacting their revenues, so they can just pocket a lot more money (for comparison, the only other teams lower than them for 2019 were the Rays and Pirates, and the only other teams close are the Marlins, Orioles, and White Sox).
That’s super interesting and shows a lot for mfy fans to be mad at. That said, I do think there’s real value to developing your own prospects rather than just dealing them after blocking them behind high priced free agents
 

jon abbey

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It's simultaneously interesting and idiotic because like so many articles and comments on this topic, it ignores the very real non-financial penalties that a team incurs if they go over the tax levels. For instance, NY has signed the #1 IFA 2 of the past 3 years, and if they had gone over the highest tax level every year, the penalties incurred would have quite possibly meant they weren't able to sign either of those guys.
 

jon abbey

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Also it doesn't factor in non-salary expenses, which can vary quite a bit. I believe that teams like the Yankees and Dodgers gain an advantage by spending massive amounts of money on scouting at every level (other team's MLB players, other team's minor leaguers, college players, etc) but those numbers are not known or totalled (or taxed) anywhere.
 

effectivelywild

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It's simultaneously interesting and idiotic because like so many articles and comments on this topic, it ignores the very real non-financial penalties that a team incurs if they go over the tax levels. For instance, NY has signed the #1 IFA 2 of the past 3 years, and if they had gone over the highest tax level every year, the penalties incurred would have quite possibly meant they weren't able to sign either of those guys.
I don't disagree that the non-financial penalties are significant, but a "money is no object" owner could use financial muscle to make up for them. Let's say you're the owner and you've decided that you want to run over the highest luxury tax threshold but you also want to be able to buff up your farm system (presumably you just like the idea of a stocked farm system because, again, money is no object). So you go out in FA and acquire the closest equivalent to exchangeable currency I can think of---relief pitchers---sign a few high level relievers on short term deals and then trade their heavily (or entirely) subsidized contracts in exchange for prospects. Now yes, you're not going to be able to exactly replace the players you are missing out on by having lost draft picks and international free agent money, but you can essentially "purchase" prospects this way. You'd probably have to overpay your relievers to get them to be ok with this sort of plan but presumably many of them have a dollar figure at which they could rest easy. You'd also probably piss off the other owners and MLB could theoretically create rules to keep you from doing this. But it would be a way to more or less buy prospects for a farm system, thus blunting the "non-financial" penalties.
 

jon abbey

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I don't disagree that the non-financial penalties are significant, but a "money is no object" owner could use financial muscle to make up for them. Let's say you're the owner and you've decided that you want to run over the highest luxury tax threshold but you also want to be able to buff up your farm system (presumably you just like the idea of a stocked farm system because, again, money is no object). So you go out in FA and acquire the closest equivalent to exchangeable currency I can think of---relief pitchers---sign a few high level relievers on short term deals and then trade their heavily (or entirely) subsidized contracts in exchange for prospects. Now yes, you're not going to be able to exactly replace the players you are missing out on by having lost draft picks and international free agent money, but you can essentially "purchase" prospects this way. You'd probably have to overpay your relievers to get them to be ok with this sort of plan but presumably many of them have a dollar figure at which they could rest easy. You'd also probably piss off the other owners and MLB could theoretically create rules to keep you from doing this. But it would be a way to more or less buy prospects for a farm system, thus blunting the "non-financial" penalties.
Eh, this makes more sense in theory than in reality, I think. I don’t think we actually see top relievers being traded for premium prospects in recent years, maybe not since NY moved Chapman and Miller in 2016. What’s more likely is signings like Britton to NY before last season (it was a contract quirk but NY chose after 2020 to commit to two more years of him) or Trevor Rosenthal to OAK, both contracts complete duds from the second they were signed.
 

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Trading away top performing relievers makes it harder for the major league club to compete. Yes, you can buy prospects as a rich team, but it's hard to do during the season when you're still dealing with a limited major league roster. The better way to do it is in the offseason by taking on bad contracts with prospects attached.
 

effectivelywild

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Eh, this makes more sense in theory than in reality, I think. I don’t think we actually see top relievers being traded for premium prospects in recent years, maybe not since NY moved Chapman and Miller in 2016. What’s more likely is signings like Britton to NY before last season (it was a contract quirk but NY chose after 2020 to commit to two more years of him) or Trevor Rosenthal to OAK, both contracts complete duds from the second they were signed.
I did intend for this to be more of a theoretical exercise than a realistic strategy for running a team (hopefully covered by the obviously fictional "money is no object" owner). And I don't think you could necessarily get a bunch of premium prospects out of it but it wouldn't be that hard to squeeze out a recent first round pick. Quick, very imperfect example:

Let's say you've got craig kimbrel for one year (his current contract with the ChiSox is 16 million I think). I used the Baseball Trade Values site for these calculations, so we're assuming that their value estimations are approximately correct (obviously a huge and likely incorrect assumption). I took a look at the site's valuation for Yankees prospect Austin Wells, the 15th ranked prospect of theirs by Fangraphs and a 2020 1st round draft pick. By the trade simulator, he has a value of around 8 million. Simulator says Kimbrel's actual value is around 16 million. So if you traded a subsidized kimbrel (paid half his contract) the trade simulator would let you get Wells in return.

Now, I realize this is not a very realistic scenario. And to Max Power's point---I'm presuming you would be signing guys with the intention of trading them---I believe you would have to wait until June to trade newly signed relievers, but you would essentially be signing more relievers than you "need" with the intention of trading one or more away when you could.

Mostly I was just trying to make the point that the non-financial penalties for going over the luxury tax could, theoretically, be mitigated. In retrospect, it is only tangentially related to the lockout and I apologize, though I guess this is where my mind goes when there is no other news.
 

jon abbey

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1) The “fictional ‘money is no object’ owner’” isn’t fictional, Steve Cohen owns the Mets now.

2) The Kimbrel example you want is the Cubs one, they signed him to a 3/43 deal with a club option and paid him $26M to be awful in 2019 and 2020. Last year he was good again and they got a promising young MLB player for him in Nick Madrigal, but there are much easier and cheaper ways to obtain young talent. Kimbrel was never available on the open market for 1/16, and in fact the White Sox picked up his option probably to trade him, and weren’t able to before the lockout.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2022/01/what-if-the-white-sox-dont-trade-craig-kimbrel.html
 

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My point with posting the article was not to antagonize Yankee fans, but rather to point to just how reasonable estimates of payroll vs. revenue look. I do think it was somewhat surprizing that Hal would come out in favor of lowering the CBT thresholds given that that is essentially more of a limit on the Yankees than any other team, and this article points squarely to why he would do that. At least George was blowing through money to win on the field.
It's simultaneously interesting and idiotic because like so many articles and comments on this topic, it ignores the very real non-financial penalties that a team incurs if they go over the tax levels. For instance, NY has signed the #1 IFA 2 of the past 3 years, and if they had gone over the highest tax level every year, the penalties incurred would have quite possibly meant they weren't able to sign either of those guys.
While this is a good point regarding the CBT penalties that the article skips over, it also worth noting that these are penalties owners put on themselves (and if it allows them to further underpay 16 yr old brown kids from Latin America, so much the better). This points to why the MLBPA is looking to raise the CBT threshold and remove all non-monetary penalties.
Also it doesn't factor in non-salary expenses, which can vary quite a bit. I believe that teams like the Yankees and Dodgers gain an advantage by spending massive amounts of money on scouting at every level (other team's MLB players, other team's minor leaguers, college players, etc) but those numbers are not known or totalled (or taxed) anywhere.
This idea seems to be thrown around, but I how much more are the Yankees/ Dodgers/ etc paying their scouts, and how many more scouts do they have? Do you really think they are spending enough that it would even account for an additional 1% of their payroll? It looks to me that when compared to their incoming revenues and franchise valuation, this difference is couch cushion change.
 

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There will certainly be no replacement players this time around. In 1994-95, it was a player strike, not a lock-out. The owners brought in replacement players because the real players were choosing not to show up. That's not the case now. The owners shut things down. They can't exactly open things back up without allowing MLBPA players on the field.
I think he was indicating the opposite scenario. That billionaires not in MLB's BBC open a competing league and offer jobs to all the stars now locked out.
 

djbayko

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MLBPA drops age-based free agency proposal as negotiations on new labor deal continue: Source
The Major League Baseball Players Association dropped its request to introduce an age-based free agency system into the sport on Monday, withdrawing a proposal in one of the three major areas MLB had shown no interest in changing, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Athletic.
The union also revised its proposal to alter revenue sharing between the teams, another of the three areas MLB has resisted changes toward — and traditionally, a hot-button topic for the owners themselves. Between revenue sharing and free agency, the union feels it made two significant concessions.
The union on Monday also rejected most if not all of what MLB had proposed in the sides’ most recent meeting.
With the time-to-free-agency question gone, the two major hurdles remaining are whether MLB could become amenable to any changes to revenue sharing; and what will happen to the other particularly contentious bucket, the time it takes a player to reach arbitration.
 

Max Power

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That's a bummer. It seems like age-based free agency would be a win for both sides. Teams could hold onto young phenoms longer on year to year contracts (even if those contracts are market rate) and players who didn't crack the big league roster until their mid-20s would have a shot at free agency when they're in their prime.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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To my mind it’s always seemed the union only cares about maximizing the earning potential of the top 20% of the players. If they were really into representing the best interests of the vast majority of players then minimum salary would be the first priority. They will always cave to any proposals that screw the minor leaguers or recently drafted amateurs.
 

jon abbey

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To my mind it’s always seemed the union only cares about maximizing the earning potential of the top 20% of the players. If they were really into representing the best interests of the vast majority of players then minimum salary would be the first priority. They will always cave to any proposals that screw the minor leaguers or recently drafted amateurs.
Raising the minimum salary would actually help higher paid veterans, as would allowing unlimited minor league options for all players, because both of those would make veterans more attractive to teams deciding roster spots, as compared to optionable minimum salary kids. I would like to think the MLPBA leadership understands this, but I'm doubtful they do.
 

Bosoxian

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I think the MLBPA only cares about its union membership, and most of the guys affected by Super Two aren’t in the union yet.
 

OCD SS

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That's a bummer. It seems like age-based free agency would be a win for both sides. Teams could hold onto young phenoms longer on year to year contracts (even if those contracts are market rate) and players who didn't crack the big league roster until their mid-20s would have a shot at free agency when they're in their prime.
I could be wrong, but I think the age-based FA structure was designed to be an upper limit on the reserve clause limitations. A player like Devers who got into the majors young would still only be under team control for the standard 6+ years and get to FA in their primes; players who took longer to break in would've still hit FA at after they turned 30.5 without having to go to a full 6+ years of control.

Breaking this down, it seems like the players have a lot of asks and paths to make gains, and the owners seem like they want to fight to give as little as possible and maintain the status quo, except with expanded playoffs. If the players primary goal is to get players to FA earlier, is expanded playoffs enough of a lever to get the owners to alter the reserve structure? That seems like the players' big way to put money in the Owners' pockets, but the underlying media analysis seems to assume expanded playoffs are inevitable, but that the owners don't want to alter the reserve structure; should the players budge on PO expansion without the league changing the path to free agency?
 

Murderer's Crow

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All that was reported was that the age requirement was pulled by the MLBPA, not that they are conceding on negotiations related to how long it takes players to get to free agency.
 

Rasputin

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I don't have the time or energy to dig into the details of this shit because no matter who talks, I get mad.

Can anyone convince me the season is going to start on time?
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Ok .. I’ll try … there’s too much money at stake (for both sides) and the dividing issues are fairly minimal. They may miss some ST games but that will be it.
But if you're in the upper tier paid of players..... you really don't need to work. Same with the owners and upper management. They've likely banked enough over the past several years or year, even... that they can sit and continue to enjoy their off-season in St. Barthes. The players and other labor (ones that work at stadiums) that is low on the pay scale are just disposable pawns in this bullshit. While I'm glad Max Scherzer can get paid zillions for throwing a ball, and John Henry can harvest even more off of it, there's ballboys, groundskeepers and concession workers that need this shit to get moving so they can pay for their apartments. Nobody really gives a F about them.
 

OCD SS

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I don't have the time or energy to dig into the details of this shit because no matter who talks, I get mad.

Can anyone convince me the season is going to start on time?
But if you're in the upper tier paid of players..... you really don't need to work. Same with the owners and upper management. They've likely banked enough over the past several years or year, even... that they can sit and continue to enjoy their off-season in St. Barthes. The players and other labor (ones that work at stadiums) that is low on the pay scale are just disposable pawns in this bullshit. While I'm glad Max Scherzer can get paid zillions for throwing a ball, and John Henry can harvest even more off of it, there's ballboys, groundskeepers and concession workers that need this shit to get moving so they can pay for their apartments. Nobody really gives a F about them.
That's Capitalism for you. Instead of creating a sustaining system where everyone benefits equitably, every group or concern must atomize to grab as much as they can for themselves (and strangely the benefits accrue to fewer at the top).

Some good articles by Ben Clemens and Evan Drellich (who is killing it on the lockout beat) from this week point to the sides actually sitting down and getting things going. It seems like the MLBPA has had to act as the adult in the room and actually make the first move towards real bargaining as Ownership's proposals have basically paid lip service to player concerns while setting them up to give up more money in practice.

The players have come off demands that would get some to FA before 6 years of service time, and will concentrate on getting players paid earlier through other means (focusing on raising the minimum wage and setting up a pool for pre-arb players to get performance based bonuses). The players have come off of one of the Owners' three "untouchable areas" (time to arbitration and revenue sharing between teams being the others), but I don't see the Union giving up on the other two. I don't think the Union can really afford to leave these areas alone and meet any of their goals, so it will be interesting to see if ownership gives ground at all in this area of negotiations.

Getting players paid earlier doesn't really address service time manipulation where teams wind up holding a player's reserve rights through 7 seasons. This could be easily solved by simply counting any year that a player plays in MLB as one of those 6 years, but it doesn't look like it's really been addressed...

Both sides have put expanded playoff proposals forward; since that's the players' primary bargaining chip, I'm curious how much the owners think that is worth.
 

nvalvo

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I thought that was one of the biggest issues for the MLBPA. Less years to become Arb. eligible can't be the concession to make this go away can it?
I actually think that would be a decent trade. As MLB never tires of pointing out, players who reach free agency do tremendously. The key issue for the union needs to be attenuating the surplus value discrepancy between younger and older players so that the traditional system actually works the way it was supposed to. They should be focusing on a return to only two pre-arb seasons and raising the pre-arb minimum salary.

If the difference is between giving some mid-tier veteran FA $12m/year and rolling the dice on a couple AAAA types at $500k each and seeing if you can hit on one, the latter is just too tempting — it's just not that likely that the mid-tier FA is a 24x better bet than the guy with less track record, especially when you consider the surplus value of the controllable years of the young guy (if it works out). But if you can double or triple what those junior guys would be making, the rest of the system moves a bit back towards balance.
 

OCD SS

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The Fangraphs/ Ben Clemmens article I linked to has some good breakdowns on the effects of minimum salaries in MLB:

In 2021, teams spent roughly $3.842 billion on player salaries, per Spotrac. Minimum salaries accounted for roughly $289 million of that, or 7.5% of the total outlay.

On the other hand, those players accounted for roughly 47% of the service time accrued in 2021. That’s not quite the same as games played – you accrue service time while on the injured list or while on the 26-man roster but not appearing in games – but the player pool skews heavily towards pre-arbitration players no matter how you slice it. 58% of all players to appear on a 26-man roster in 2021 haven’t yet reached arbitration.

When you consider the composition of the major league player pool, these small-sounding changes in pre-arbitration salaries take on increased importance. The union’s proposal would move that outlay for minimum-salary players from roughly $289 million to roughly $386 million, a $97 million increase. That’s small potatoes in the business of baseball, of course – the league reportedly saw $10.7 billion in revenue in 2019, and even if you just compare it to the overall player salary pool, it’s only a 2.5% increase in the total salary pool. The league’s proposal is for an even smaller increase – it would have paid minimum-salary players roughly $319 million in 2021, a 0.7% increase in total player salaries.
This doesn't look like enough money back to younger players from the union perspective, espeically as teams lean more and more on pre-arb players. The proposed bonus pools for pre-arb players would help, but I'm curious to see which of the rails the union proposal will bump up against. Making arb easier to reach seems most likely...
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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It seems like the MLBPA has had to act as the adult in the room and actually make the first move towards real bargaining as Ownership's proposals have basically paid lip service to player concerns while setting them up to give up more money in practice.
I don't think the MLBPA is being the "adult in the room" as much as recognizing that they have very little leverage in these negotiations. IMO, they will have done well to come out something close to the status quo.
 
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