Veteran reporter Ken Rosenthal has sounded the alarm for the possibility of a MLB work stoppage in a piece today at The Athletic (subscription link). He opens the article with the eyebrow-raising observation that “the threat of the sport’s first work stoppage since 1994-95 is palpable.”

Importantly, Rosenthal does not cite sources for the proposition that a strike or lockout are specifically being contemplated now or in the immediate future. But the fact that such a well-placed reporter characterizes the state of affairs in that manner is noteworthy in and of itself. And the piece does document a few nuggets of information that hint that the possibility is in the back of the minds of some. For instance, per the report, the players “have taken the unusual step of authorizing the union to withhold their entire [licensing fees] checks” to keep a reserve fund in place.



It’s hardly novel at this point to see the concept of a labor war floated. Certainly, the increasingly antagonistic relationship between Major League Baseball (and its member teams) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (along with the players that make up its membership) has long been observed. Market changes have been evident since the current CBA went into effect, with last winter’s laborious free-agent market bringing things into sharp focus.

This time last year, it was already clear that change was afoot. But it was generally emphasized, here and elsewhere, that the next winter’s market — that is, the one we’re in at present — would offer a better test due to the presence of uniquely youthful and accomplished superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado (along with some other high-end talents). As it turns out, it’s now clear at the winter-long staring contest is not just a one-year phenomenon. Though some significant contracts have been handed out, it’s obvious that teams now have ample resolve when it comes to negotiating major deals.

The question remaining now is how much more cash remains to be distributed — an end game that is upon us with Spring Training closing in. No doubt the union side is still waiting to see precisely how things will shake out, though the above-linked article does not paint a particularly optimistic picture of expectations.

It seems the rub of the issue is just when and how the league and union will head back to the bargaining table on some key elements of the labor accord. Agent Sam Levinson, who warns of a scenario where the sides end up “locking arms and walking off the cliff together,” notes to Rosenthal that “the CBA has been opened in the past to address compelling issues.” Unsurprisingly, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem has a different perspective, saying he’s “not sure why we are talking about ’walking off the cliff together’ when we are three years away from the expiration of our collective bargaining agreement and there has been no effort by the MLBPA to engage in discussions on these issues.”

As Rosenthal rightly points out, the league surely cannot force teams to spend more money. At the same time, there’s little question that it negotiated the CBA with a healthy dose of foresight regarding the trends in front office valuations, cost-efficient roster-building approaches, and the rising tide of young, affordable talent. While teams likewise cannot be faulted for seeking and seizing advantage, both in collective bargaining talks and in their actions under the bargained-for rules regime, there does seem at minimum to be a legitimate need to, as Rosenthal puts it, “work around the edges of the CBA to create incentives for teams to compete to the fullest.”

Just what that might look like, and how it might come together, isn’t at all clear — hence, the sense of tension. But it’s interesting to wonder whether a solution might not be found in an area that ought to be of concern to all involved. There’s a major competitive imbalance in the American League, in particular, that likely has not only strongly contributed to depressions in the free-agent market, but has likewise impacted the league’s increasing attendance problem. While that concern has been dismissed by some (including myself) in the past, it seems more and more to be a root issue.

Is there a means of inducing more teams to seek near-term wins, such that the overall MLB product (and its revenue-producing capacity) is improved and such that teams have good reason to spend more on players? Might there be a positive, collaborative path to pursue, which may at least offer a partial solution to the labor rumblings while also helping to reduce misgivings? We will have to see how things proceed, but it would surely behoove all involved to begin looking for ways to engage in a constructive manner.

Baseball might not ever be the same if they strike again. The sport was almost dead after the strike in ‘94. It will be worse this time.

Hopefully negotiating banter to get the league to open up talks earlier than normal. Players need to adjust to life and contracts without PEDs. At the same time the league needs to understand fans need to get rebates which is not happening or players’ earnings need to coincide with production. If not what I’ve posted before then allow incentives based on performances. so don’t like it because it’s a team sport but something needs to give.

I jumped in today to have some fun. But the reality is this line buried in the sensationalized article:

– Unsurprisingly, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem has a different perspective, saying he’s “not sure why we are talking about ’walking off the cliff together’ when we are three years away from the expiration of our collective bargaining agreement and there has been no effort by the MLBPA to engage in discussions on these issues.” –

If the players stage this “work stoppage” in spite of their Union negotiating the contract and the players subsequently voting to approve, it seems any strike on their part would be illegal. Maybe they could do some legal mumbo jumbo to claim the Owners are violating the contract, but nothing like that has remotely been brought forward.

The next CBA will not be needed for 3 years. Have a look at teams rosters from 3 years ago and compare to today. Radical differences. Some rebuilds now in process will be completed by then with those teams spending to bring in veterans to augment their young rosters. While other rebuilds will be in place then, by teams minimizing their exposure to expensive long-term contracts today, those rebuilds will not have to be as deep.

What we appear to be discussing is something – “…..full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”.

The players won’t do very well if they DO decide to strike. They can push for less team control/arb years(and probably get it), but I don’t think we’ll ever see 10+ year contracts again no matter how much the players complain.

As long as he can get them better clubhouse food and more comfortable seats on airplanes and buses, all threats of a work stoppage will be quickly put to bed.

Last year people said FA was slow because Harper and Machado were hitting FA the next year and teams were waiting to spend. Possibly. It’s also possible this year it’s slow because those 2 haven’t signed. Tell them to pick a team and we’ll see what happens.

The problem is that Machado, Harper, and their agents are egomaniacs trying to set records rather than get the best deals possible. Coming out of the gate asking for $300M is insane given the history of such deals…

…and the fact that each is playing chicken with the other in hopes of being top dog is equally as ridiculous.

Also problem, Stanton contract set bad precedent. Top pay increase in increments but Marlins, like always, said screw MLB, lets do something dumb.

not only that, but also both players had bad years prior to their free agency. If Harper would have led the Nats into the Worlds Series, do you think he would be unsigned with no offers like he is now? if Machado hadn’t made those comments and bone head plays while being a key player with the Dodgers he would also not be in the position he is in now.

I find the Harper situation mind boggling. He’s coming off a year in which he produced less than 2 WAR and he scoffs at a 10yr300m offer from the Nats? Players have a right to be upset in certain instances, especially regarding the 2/3’s of teams not really trying to compete, but Harper’s expectations are too high.

It could be that teams just don’t want to spend $300 mil on an alleged clubhouse cancer (Harper) or a non-hustler (Machado). The rest of the free agent market seems to be going as normal.

A-Rod was way worse as was Barry Bonds and both got monstrous deals from owners who bucked traditional owner orthodox and spent lots to keep the fans happy.

The Giants owner (Peter Magowan) in specific was one of the only to privately fund his ballpark which pissed off the owners who like to hold cities ransom for ballparks and then sell the team immediately like Jeff Loria.

The days of Mike Ilitch, Steinbrenner and Peter Magowan spending lots and openly hinting that the other owners are trying to collude to keep down salaries are over.

Both Arods contracts proved to be mistakes and Bonds never received a mega deal. Also, both players had significantly better numbers than Harper and Machado.

ARods first contract was a productive one. Tough to quantify whether it was worth the money considering he was the only player who got that type of contract at the time, but his production was there.

I believe teams might finally understand that more than 5 years on a contract is a really bad move regardless of age. Players only have so much motivation in them so 7-10 years contracts are just too comfortable for them. Even these young guys would produce early have a few down years & then ramp it up the last two years of the contract, especially the final year. New CBA should cap years at 5 for the home team 4 years for all other teams in exchange for a 65 million bottom. Increase first year salary from 500k to 2 million allow free agency to start a year earlier & have the MLB clock to start once a player hits double AA. MLB teams won’t keep a player in the minors so long like Acuna or Guerrero when they are losing years of control. It incentivizes the team to bring players up not keep them down.

Interesting. It’s possible the sheer quantity of free agents being added to the pool may be enough to satisfy the MLBPA, but I’m sure some agents and high end players will be fighting mad about the 5-year limit. They could work it to allow teams to mutually agree to another year after each season to bring the total remaining back up to five years. They could put an age limit of, say, 35 for the ability to extend the additional year on the contract.

Your post is well thought out, but there are points I agree and disagree with. I like the contract caps. I’d put the floor at 100mil. First year salaries and free agent agency stay the same. Instead of having the clock start at AA, change the 6 year free agents to 4 years.

If Bryce Harper actually was a “clubhouse cancer” why would the Nationals have offered him a $300MM extension late last season? After spending 7 seasons in Washington they of all teams would know if he was a problem.

As for Harper and Manny Machado, it’s interesting to note that only two other teams have been strongly linked to each free agent. The still rebuilding White Sox and recent “do-over” Phillies are the only known teams to have met with Harper at his Las Vegas residency. Both clubs also had sit-downs with Machado, along with the Yankees who seemingly have moved on from him. To this point the White Sox are the only known club to have officially submitted an offer for Machado but reports have each of the two teams still fully engaged with signing one or the other. If either were perceived clubhouse problems one would think that these two organizations who have rosters predominately composed of younger players would not be willing to spend such a huge sum of money in order to make each the face of their franchise.

Also problem, both Machado and Harper did not take career production increase steps last year. Both kind of regressed. Manny demand to play average SS instead of alien other world awesome 3B? Bad move. Harper defense and bat declined and showed world he is no where near Trout. If Harper did like Stanton and said yes to extension right after MVP year, then he gets Stanton contract plus, probably.

Totally agree, except I don’t think the cap needs to be hard, but there does need to be a hard floor.

That will absolutely kill any chances the 20 mid and small market teams of ever building a team that can contend for more then a year……..

Or half of all local revenues stay with the home team and the other half goes into the pool for all clubs.

More revenue sharing would help the competitive balance, but the flip side is that local revenues matter less to each team.

They don’t need a hard cap. The current system is obviously working as a deterrent. All the teams that were over the tax threshold in 2017 were under last year, Yankees and Dodgers included.

What mid or small market team can afford to pay their bullpen what the Yankees pay theirs? The Dodgers have bench players making more then those teams starters. To say nothing of how large market teams can eat bad contracts then go out and sign another high-priced player…..while bad contracts paralyze small and mid market teams.

It has nothing to do with big markets. Big markets were always there to pony-up for the big FA. The problem now is that those big market teams are working smarter right now not so much out of necessity the way the A’s and Rays did but because it”s just smart business to use the analytics in efforts to reduce waste.

Bottom line is this. Harper and Manny might well end up being disappointed. However, Patrick Corbin, Nathan Eovaldi, JA Happ, McMcutchen, etc are probably happy with the deals they received.

Not to mention that teams like the A’s have been takin around $40mil a year in redistributed funds from other clubs while carrying around a $40 mil payroll. Their owners refuse to put their own money into the team or the stadium, yet get to make a healthy profit thanks to the hard work of other teams… Particularly the A’s, but other teams are doing better in this regard by slightly raising their payrolls, but it’s still a problem. Having a hard floor would increase competition, player salaries, and the fan experience, because the greedy owners would finally have some skin in the game and really need that income to meet their investments

According to Forbes, in 2017 the A’s spent $99 M on player expense (salaries) and had a profit of $15 M.

That is NOT the issue, it’s the lack of a middle. 75 to 80 win teams, use to add free agents but now those teams don’t and instead trade players, so those trading partners don’t need to spend either. The attitude now is you would rather loss 100 games, than win 78 games.

Nah. Read that a little closer. The A’s have had 200+ million in revenue per year for the past 5. The article also says… The A’s 2018 payroll is around $70 million, despite receiving more than $80 million from MLB from national media deals and revenue sharing, plus a $50 million payout for the sale of BamTech, a division of MLB Advanced Media that was sold to Disney.

I also suggest fixing the international player system in ways that address lux-tax teams’ worry about it, while at the same time, maybe increasing the straight financial penalty in return, even.

Go from “rookie/post-rookie” contracts straight to free agency, like the NBA, or kind of like that, at least.

As for any alleged threat by big-market teams not to share more revenue? Lemme see, an increasingly polarized MLB will be less and less attractive on future national TV contracts, etc., etc. The national invisibility of the likes of Mike Trout on top athlete lists will only increase.

The hard floor would be calculated based on the league minimum player salary. So if you want a team minimum of, say, $75mm, then the player minimum would be $3mm.

Yeah something like this would address the key problem. High minimum salary per player, aggressive minimum payroll per team, and to pay for it a much bigger pool of money going from the big market teams to the small market teams. And then you could pretty much lift the cap, or make it very high.

If the smaller markets go for a cap, the big markets will demand they give up revenue sharing and competitive balance picks.

No way they implement a salary cap although I do think MLB teams have too much control over players initially so I think that prompts these guys asking for insane money once they’re free 6-7 years after their debut. Why pay a player 500 million when you can pay a younger player 750,000$ on a year by year basis for three years? I personally think players should have just one season of pre-arb salary and then three years of arbitration. In other words, 4 years of control… It would enable players to get paid at a younger age so they feel less pressure to make 500 million after 7 years of making 40 million combined.

That would totally kill competition. Small market teams depend 100% on cheap control of good young players. Take even some of that control away and they’re dead in the water. You’d have a European soccer situation, where the same 5 teams win every year for decades.

Just because smaller market teams are exploiting the cheaper labor of younger players to be competitive doesn’t mean they have to be. This is the paradigm created by recent CBA’s and teams are squeezing the most out of it that they possibly can.

League contraction is also good idea, a lot. Florida market is good, but only enough for one team. Drop a Marlin or a Ray. Bay Area? Drop a Giant or the Athletics. Rangers maybe go too. Also definitely, drop Orioles. Then product quality goes up even higher and teams not compete for fans in same geo area.

Haha you’re not going to get MLB to approve dropping 4 teams. If anything, they add two. Charlotte NC and somewhere west, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Mexico City either. But if it was in US, I’d say San Antonio or Portland.

Wouldn’t a salary cap contribute even more to these slow off-seasons? Teams not spending is the problem and a salary cap prevents team spending

No minimum!! That just makes teams spend $ on no deserving players which ups the anticipated bidding on others down the line.

Instead, no more small market allocations. You either make it or move where your team will be better supported and then allow more spending on players and stadiums etc.

free agency after 4 MLB service years or 7 years after drafted would flood the market with a lot of young free agents and there would be even less veteran players, resulting on shorter careers for all players.

10 year contracts are insane. So are 5 and 6 year contracts for closers. The problem is the players. Most teams will pay high AAV for a shorter deals.

By the way, don’t the agents – starting with Boras – tell us the market sets the salaries? I guess the market only counts when – “well, the owners gave out those bad contracts….it’s their fault!”

wont you please give generously to support the millionaires club of mlb players? for just the cost of 815,222 lattes per day per player, they can be back to doing nothing during the strike (in the Bahamas!)

You mean instead of the billionaire owners smart guy? Also, most players are not milionaires. Try reading.

The Luxury Tax is basically a salary cap. The penalties are immense and require international bonuses to be reduced.

Actually all the majority owners are billionaires since the worth of every MLB team is worth a billion or more dollars.

Jeffery Loria sold the Marlins for how much despite being the low end joke of MLB every year when it came to revenue and expenditures?

Of course, “net worth” doesn’t mean money in their pockets. It means if and when they decide to sell their team, they can reap the “net worth” of their investment. Your house may be worth a lot more than it was when you bought it, but it only reaps you a profit when you sell it. Meanwhile, players get paychecks based on their negotiated salaries. Neither side is hurting, but both will pay dearly if there is another strike. I know people who still refuse to watch games because they are pissed off about the last strike. If both sides want to hack away at the golden goose, by all means let a strike occur again. The public will no doubt sympathize greatly.

Nobody including Warren Buffet and Bill Gates actually has the money they’re worth. Everything in this world is hypothetical wealth until we ask to see it liquidated which is why everyone uses credit as a system for buying and selling things.

It’s pretty much why every single nation on this planet has debt. Regardless the open market said the Marlins was worth 1.2B when Loria sold the team for that, despite them being the joke of the league when it came to revenues and expenditures. A team like that being worth that kind of money is ridiculous.

Umm … yeah they are. The least valuable team in baseball is the Rays at $900m, who are the only one worth less than $1b. Most are worth much more.

Right. I noted that above. The tying of the international bonus and compensation pool etc. to the lux tax needs to be fixed.

Eliminate everything but a simple, straight-up international draft. (Or, even consider one draft, period; international players, whether pros or not, get dropped in the annual draft pool.)

Then, allow teams to keep international players “stuffed” abroad for, up to, say, 2 years. Again, the general NBA outlines are something MLB could learn from.

Actually that still isnt accurate. Principle owners still only own a percentage of the team; moreover they may have debt that offsets the value of their ownership share.

Not that any of them are hurting. And it doesn’t change the point that there is no reason for fans to be rooting for either the millionaire players or the hundred millionaire players. I only point this out because there is something of a myth in this country that there are lots and lots of billionaires when in truth there is a relative handful, something like 500.

This from Jake! We ought to be rooting for things like “unbundled” cable TV and stuff like that that “drains the money swamp” away from both sides.

In the 1980s, I could get bleacher seats at Busch for $2, half the price of a movie ticket. Try finding a deal like that at a ballpark today.

Billionaire owners have invested money to have the right to earn a return on their investment. The average player salary is already north of $4,000,000 so they are not doing too bad. If the players stay on their projected course, you are likely to see a bad deal for the owners next time followed by contraction which in the end is not good for the players. The reality is that teams have figured out that they don’t need to pay $30M for ten years to get 4-5 more wins a season. They can accomplish the same for less.

Players have made an investment as well – they’ve sacrificed their bodies and their lives to get to where they are now. Why would you ever want to defend a billionaire owner over a player – many of whom come from nothing and are clearly being exhorted by the MLB.

They can only “accomplish the same for less” because baseball (and the other major pro sports) have an antitrust exemption that allows them to control employees at their peak earning power, so they can pay them much less than they’re worth and no one can compete for their services. That’s literally the ONLY reason they can do that. If pre-arbitration players could sell their services to the highest bidder like any other employee in any other industry, they’d make multiple times more.

MLB is the only sport that has an official antitrust exemption. That said, the government has de facto treated other major sports leagues the same.

yes, but there are only 30 team owners and 750 MLB players. Supply and demand indicates that owners should make a lot more than players. Besides, the players that need to make more are not the superstars, but the other players making minimum or close to it.

1. Draft lottery.. 2. penalty for lose 90+ games 3 or 4 years in a row. Like drop 10 spots. 3. Penalty for too low a salary, just like too high.

Rebuilding also does not equal putting almost no money into a roster so that the team loses as many games as possible in order to reap the rewards of top draft picks. The Orioles are doing that right now. It takes away the competitiveness of the sport. Teams like the Red Sox are guaranteed to win 12 out of 16-17 intra divisional divisional games each year against them.

guaranteed eh? as if anything is guaranteed in baseball. what was the yankees record vs the orioles last season? not very good, but those were games they were “guaranteed” to win

really the problem should not be tanking but teams failing to tank. If a team tanks properly they hopefully will only be abysmal for a few years, then have a solid run of success. (as the Cubs and Astros seem to be having) The problem is teams failing in their tanking. If all tanks worked, there would likely be less tanks at the same time, and less teams mired in oblivion for years on end. However, that’s a perfect world scenario, and success in tanking is much less guaranteed then in other sports, where players develop much more rapidly.

If teams cant trade picks there sure as heck wont be a draft lottery. And there is no point if a draft lottery. Baseball is the biggest crapshoot of them all.

1. draft lottery would only make tanking longer when teams dont get the picks they want 2. most rebuilds don’t last that long anyway, and a salary floor would largely prevent this anyway.

These salaries are so out of whack that everyone I know lol’s and shakes their heads. Yet the players want more.

yes won’t someone think of the poor billionaire owners, it’s so unfair that they should have to pay the players from a revenue pool that has nearly tripled since 2001

You don’t think the average MLB players salary has more then tripled since 2001? To say nothing of the cost of running an MLB franchise.

So mad about players salaries being so high…not even considering how high the owners salaries are…

The billionaire owners may have the same goal as the millionaire players: maximizing earning potential. But the owners have far more invested in their teams and its long-term well-being than do the players, who get their money whether they can man their post or not and whether or not their team is competitive.

The owners don’t get their money unless they field a product worth watching, and handing out 10-year, $200 million-plus deals has PROVEN time and time again to be detrimental to that cause.

The point is that overall revenue increased by about 33% from 2013-2017 ($7.1B to $9.46B). The minimum salary in the league only increased by just over 9% ($490,000 in 2013 to $535,000 in 2017) and the overall average salary moved up by just about 21% ($3,386,212 in 2013 to $4,097,122 in 2017). So salaries are not increasing commensurately with the revenue coming into the league, and while the owners can make the case that they deserve a return on their investments, the players have every right to demand their fair slice of the pie. No one’s buying a ticket to see Hal Steinbrenner or Jerry Reinsdorf.

The players can demand what they want, but they are ultimately employees of the owners — just like employees in any other industry. They don’t set their own salaries. The market does.

And if the players want to blame someone for the trend we’ve seen the last two years, they can blame their own representation and the aging stars whose nine- and 10-year contracts wrecked enough organizations to snap front offices back to their senses.

Those are universally bad investments. And the individual greed that made them a thing for a five- or six-year period cost the collective dearly.

@dannibalcorpse That’s an incomplete picture. There’s a third of the puzzle missing: the amount by which non-payroll costs increased over that same period. If costs increased at a higher rate than revenues, then it makes perfect sense that salaries can’t go up as fast as revenues.

And, odds are, costs did increase at a higher rate. All those new ways the League is generating revenue also incur new costs. Not just maintenance costs: when you build a new platform for marketing something, you also have to make a large initial investment that will only pay for itself over time. That’s just as true on the web as it is in physical ventures. Server banks aren’t free. Software developers, marketing specialists, etc. don’t work for free. It all costs money.

Unlike the general public, the PA has access to those figures. So, as far as we know, they were shown financial data that convinced them that they’re getting their fair slice of the pie.

“$200 million-plus deals has PROVEN time and time again to be detrimental to that cause.” @Daniel Youngblood ——————

Nonsense. There have been 12 $200M plus contracts handed out in baseball, so far. (there will be 14, by March 1st at the latest)

Most of the 12 proved, or are well on their way to proving to be above average investments (meaning that they generated more WAR per million bucks than the average free agent deal.

In fact, out of the 12 contracts, only 4 are clear failures: A-Rod’s second deal, Cabrera’s second deal, Fielder and Pujols. Note what three of those have in common: they were all ten year deals, given to players significantly older than 30. And the fourth one is a rare career ending injury no one could’ve foreseen.

All the other players on $200M+ deals are productive: A-Rod won three MVPs during his first 10 year deal, Stanton already has an MVP on his, Cano and Votto both have 24 WAR already, which means they’re almost paid up just halfway through, Kershaw has 29 WAR in the first five years of his seven year contract (so he’s all paid up, everything he does in the next two years is a bonus), Scherzer is a SPECTACULAR signing, who outperformed even the wildest expectations anybody had for him (he’s producing more than double what he’s getting paid for), and even Greinke and Price have rebounded after a rough start, and I wouldn’t put it past either of them to end up with the 22-23 WAR required to make their signings worthwhile, when it’s all said and done.

That’s 2/3 of all the $200M+ contracts that AREN’T detrimental. No. 13 on the list is Derek Jeter, by the way, with 10 years, $189M. That’s another example of a REALLY, REALLY well spent chunk of money. So it’s 9 of the 13 biggest contracts in history, contradicting your theory.

Stanton, Votto, Kershaw were pre-free agency deals. Cano (and Stanton btw) was traded in salary dump. DBacks can’t get rid of Greinke. Price opted into the remainder of his contract implying an overpay. Scherzer is the only actual free agent deal those teams would make again if they had a chance at a redo.

@dannibalcorpse if you remove those that only made the league minimum, you’ll see that the salaries have increased their average salaries by more than 33%. What the MLBPA needs to address is those making the league minimum. I believe it should be 1M and increase 5% each year.

Sure, but what happens when there is a downturn? Owners salaries are not guaranteed like players. You have to plan for the future and that means ample cash flow and smart budgeting.

Anthony Davis is turning down a five year deal that would pay him over $40 million/year, yet it’s the baseball players who are in a fantasy world. Sure thing, dude.

Can Chris Davis be the first player to testify on how unjust and how unfair major league salaries have become. Seems fitting as he was the last player to sign a ‘mega’ long-term contract.

What are you talking about? Just off the top of my head, Strasbourg and Altuve signed bigger contracts than that, in the last two years. And they weren’t even close to free agency, when they signed.

There haven’t been any huge free agent contracts in the last two years because there haven’t been any high end free agents. That’s gonna end this winter with Machado and Harper (who already has a $300M+ offer on the table), and the big contracts will continue in the next two years, with Sale, Cole, Arenado, Betts and Trout all set to hit free agency.

Should have clarified that Davis was the last mega FREE AGENT contract signed. And to say that there have been no high end free agents is a perplexing statement.

I don’t have a problem with players making record money. It just needs to happen on shorter-term deals.

Break the bank on AAV’s as far as I’m concerned, but any deal longer than five or so years is almost always terrible for the club.

You can force teams to spend crazy money Maybe mlb pa needs to reevaluate some of these salaries. You got bad players making crazy money. You got other player trying to get 30m in arb Seriously ?

Eliminate ARB. After 3 years in the league, players become FA. Put a HARD SALARY CAP of $225M and a FLOOR OF $100M. Put the DH in the NL and make rosters 26 instead of 25. I’m just spitballing here, but something has to happen. These people can’t be stupid enough to think they can afford another work stoppage.

@Nick Stevens – poetry. Correct on every possible thing you said. MLB needs this vision, this future. Great post. I dont understand the downvotes and popularity of owners vs players on this site. Utterly bizarre.

Sorry to say but the salary cap ship sailed 25 years ago with the last player strike. Good ideas otherwise. Only problem is how do you keep teams that can only spend 100M competitive if they lose their best players after 3 years to the teams that spend 200M+?

If a strike is on the horizon, coudln’t it possibly make more sense for harper or machado to go ahead and sign a SHORT term high annual value deal to take advantage of the new arrangement?

If something new happens it should help the average players. If Harper turned down 300 million then he can just sit in the corner and pout.

All I read is that this is all about the middle-tier players getting more money (minor leaguers as well)..

If I owned a small or mid market team I would sue the union for forcing me to overpay for players when I can get the same production elsewhere for less. Isn’t this exactly what made Billy Beane the living legend of the analytical movement?

Make all players free agents. Dissolve farm systems. Allow players from age 15 to age 44 to sign with whoever they want for whatever salary and length they negotiate. Period. If they aren’t good enough to be on the ML roster, let the players and the union figure out where they can play to develop their skills and become attractive to a ML team.

Seems to me like the stall from the rest of the free agent market is coming from two players who want enough money to sink 3/4 of MLB franchises for a decade.

There really should be a salary minimum. With the way things are going free agency needs to happen sooner for players. Maybe a look at the NBA and the way they have restrictive free agents. That way the team has the control if they want it but then would have to pay the player what they should be getting sooner in their career. Then when they are older they can get the shorter less expensive contracts.

I do believe that teams are being smart not signing players to these long contracts for their declining years, but they need to be able to become free agents sooner so they aren’t getting the short end of the deal with owners finally figuring out paying for these declining years isnt worth it.

There already is a salary minimum. I know SEVERAL players and past players and none of them will say that they didn’t make a great salary in the majors. To a man they though they say that the minor league salaries are too low.

Teams are just becoming starter. Most of FAs didn’t meet the expectations in terms of their performance. Everyone knows that giving out 6+ years contract to a single player is going to have negative impact to team’s overall management in the long run. MLAPA go ahead and strike, see what happens!

Is Ken Rosenthal becoming a tool of the owners? This is the second story he has published recently that seems like an opening shot of a pre-emptive PR campaign for the owners..

But can we do the same for the rest of society and increase the minimum wage and have a high effective tax rate on the ultra-rich?

I get the feeling that the owners and players are going to think their ideas are great and the other side is ridiculous. kind of mirroring society.

Yeah, because the whole “raise the minimum wage” has worked out so well. People are being replaced by kiosks. Good plan.

Raising the minimum wage screws the rest of us who aren’t rich by any means but make more than the minimum. My pay isn’t going to go up relative to the mandated minimum wage increase, but the cost of goods I buy at places that pay minimum wage will.

I don’t get why everyone keeps thinking that there is some unachievable method to resolve all of this. There is one core idea, but everyone is too greedy to go with it. The core of the system should be a Cap & Floor system. That’s where the solution is rooted, and can be built upon. However, the players, the owners, the MLBPA, MLB, the lawyers, and the agents don’t want this because everyone is trying to get as much money as they can. If they realize that a Cap & Floor system has a longer shelf life for making money and growing the business, they would get in on this, and everyone would make a lot more money in the long run.

So you want to officially make it impossible for teams compete if they make a bad decision or two on long term contracts? That hurts the players further.

There is no discernible reason to add a salary cap except to make small market team fans feel good. Right now, there are multiple ways to build rosters. Add a salary cap and there’s only one way.

In regard to salary floors, again, force small market teams to remain non-competitive for longer spells of time or just sign has been players at inflated 1 year contract rates and put a bad, but more expensive, product on the field.

I could see instituting a luxury tax (draft positions) on teams spending less than a certain amount, but not a hard floor.

This is undoubtedly the worst solution. It forces teams in bad years to spend money on players that wouldn’t normally get that much, and by that same thing forces them to have less to spend on good players when it is time to pay them. So you keep the bad teams down and keep the good teams (with money to spend) up.

Look at the NBA and look at how many crappy players are making WAY too much money. There are a LOT, and they stem from teams being forced to spend money on someone and not be able to save it.

This. He should have seen the writing on the wall about shorter contracts the last time, but the cash cow was good and he didn’t Meanwhile, owners were leaping into analytics and showing these contracts didn’t pay off. Clark didn’t, and it is costing his players.

I get striking over unfair conditions. But don’t strike because your own idiot leader was too stupid and backward thinking to go after what really mattered and you followed him. That will lose you fans.

I could see a salary floor, based on a three-year average. If the floor is $100 million, a team that doesn’t spend $300 million over a three=year period loses draft position or has to return a portion of their revenue sharing money to MLB where it’s split among the other clubs.

And the cap would guarantee the large market teams with their local TV income would be making their owners as rich as Mark Zuckerburg.

No it doesn’t. It eliminates teams trying to save for a period to be able to do so and forces them to spend a lot of money on bad contracts, further crippling themselves for the future. It actually does the exact opposite.

Making a law doesn’t change reality. It just changes how people can exist in that reality. It’s the easy way out for a bunch of players that had every opportunity to see that this was coming, but didn’t.

All a salary floor would do is cause washed-up veterans to get well above what they should be getting.

And let’s not forget that what a player earns, especially through arbitration, depends on what others have made previously. A player that should only be getting a $2 M deal is getting a $5 M deal just to get a team over the floor means any player that thinks they are better than that player will want more than $5 M.

Well, the last time that there was a work stoppage and then baseball came back…my Braves won a World Series title. Might history repeats itself?

The players screwed themselves in the last CBA. They let the owners win just to slighlty reduce the penalty of signing a qualifed offer player.

There’s really no excuse for team’s not wanting Machado other than him being a bad person, because he was traded during the year a team signing him will require nothing other than money to acquire him IE: no draft pick surrendering

There’s no excuse for a team’s not wanting Machado. $30 M a year is a great excuse for not trying to sign Machado.

I want the Cards to make a move on him, as I blogged today. Play him at short, DeJong learns to play 2B as well and becomes super-sub. Gives team flexibility for outyears on Ozuna, Carp, Goldy, etc. link to socraticgadfly.blogspot.com

I want to hear what some fans think about this: Could MLB survive another strike in this current age?

The NHL lost a whole season in 2004-05, and about 40% of one in 2012-13, and is still on the upswing. The NBA lost 16 games in 2011-12 and is probably at its most popular point in history. So if the MLB misses game time, it might hurt them in the immediate term but probably wouldn’t have a huge issue in the long term.

Except that MLB already has problems with the younger generation that the NBA doesn’t have to deal with, and the NHL has always been a niche league in America.

If MLB wants to lose the youth forever to the NFL and NBA or become a niche league like the NHL, it should strike. If it doesn’t, it should find a way to fix these issues through negotiations like reasonable adults.

Well put. The NBA is, for many other reasons, starting with league front office respect for players, well ahead of the NFL in my book, and could move past MLB. That’s especially if Commish Corleone doesn’t address other things, like a pace of play that’s getting to be like either cricket or one of golf’s majors.

That depends on the owners. Clearly, the players have a reason to want RADICAL changes to team control, in the next CBA. That system worked when steroids were ignored, and players were able to stay productive into their mid to late 30s, but it doesn’t work anymore.

The whole thing is out of balance, and causing really good players to lose out. Yasmani Grandal for instance is one of the best catchers in the league, and he’s on a one year deal. Guys like deGrom and Donaldson have it even worse. Donaldson won an MVP, and had a string of brilliant years, and he’s on a one year deal now. Moustakas is the victim of his agent as well as the market, but still, he’s been a really good player, and he’s getting shortchanged.

I imagine that Aaron Judge will also get a raw deal, since he’s gonna be 32 when he hits free agency. That’s another MVP caliber player who is unlikely to ever get a $100M+ contract.

These things didn’t happen during the steroid era. If you were good, you eventually got paid. Now, there are more and more really good players falling victim to dirty tricks teams use to delay free agency.

Why, beyond the fact that a few were handed out in past years (stupidly in most cases), are players entitled to $100+ million contracts?

If the market suggests those are dumb, and in most cases they are, why should players reasonably be able to expect them?

Does it suck for the players that they can no longer demand long-term contracts that reward them more for their past performance than future production? Probably. But that’s not really the owner’s problem or concern. They’re trying to build a team that can win in the present and future, and handing out those types of deals hurts that cause in the vast majority of cases.

Players are going to have to learn that they’re going to have to earn their money now, and the best value is high AAVs over significantly shorter terms. If they want to earn multi-generational wealth, it’s likely going to come over multiple contracts as opposed to one mega deal that leaves the teams that offered it in ruins.

The overriding problem is allowing teams to tank intentionally and not even try to compete. That and the salary structure are both screwed up, IMO. People talk about a salary cap (which I think is actually a good idea…….look at the NBA), but what about a salary floor? Is that a crazy idea?

Perhaps the issue is that there are only a few teams willing to spend the amount of money needed to acquire a Harper, etc. Sadly for them the Yankees, Cubs, have already maxed out and other teams simply don’t need an outfielder or s.s.b

Brycer Harper and Manny Machado were asking for far too much. 10+ year contracts are not going to be handed out to players with ANY significant warts.

Machado has known conditioning issues prior to age 25 coinciding with a major decline in defensive value and well documented attitude and work ethic issues.

Harper just had a really down year (for him) in terms of batting average and has only 1 elite season under his belt. That elite season was driven partially by unsustainable SSS metrics from CF. As of right now, Harper plays a position with little defensive value so any decline in the bat is cause for concern.

The demand to beat Stanton’s contract is crazy. Stanton was gifted a contract by an owner who didn’t care how much the contract cost and a player who didn’t want to play for the team for which he signed. The Marlins overpaid Stanton at least $100M and 5 years to get him to sign.

I think it’s the 10 years that is making owners balk more than the average annual salary. I’d be more inclined to pay 5 years at $35-$40 per than 10 years at $30. Ten years is a LONG time for an athlete.

Jeffery Loria gave Stanton that contract and then sold the team before Stanton’s big salary started to kick as he didn’t start making a lot in his deal until 2018 as it went from 14.5M to 29M from 2017 to 2018. It had nothing to do with Stanton not wanting to play for the Marlins, he wanted to leave once it became evident the Marlins were never going to compete with him on the roster and they tried to send him to St Louis and San Fransisco. He smartly got a no-trade clause because the Marlins are notorious for trading away anyone with value so he used it to force their hands to send him to the Yankees.

The Marlins got a publicly financed stadium from the taxpayers of Miami and then blew up the 2012 team within a year and never tried to compete again with a similar payroll before Jeffery Loria sold the team for 1.2 billion dollars. Who really lost out on this? The people of Miami while Loria laughs his way to his private island.

It’s amazing how time has changed memories on Stanton. Loria offered Stanton the contract structured in a way that #1 made Stanton believe Loria was going to build a competitive team so Stanton would change his mind about wanting out. #2 paid Stanton an amount he couldn’t refuse.

Stanton was quite vocal about being tired of losing and wanting to play for a winning team early in 2014, which was before his extension and he’d been angry since the 2012 fire sale which gutted a competitive team.

Harper had a major decline in fielding last year, his first-ever negative dWAR. THAT would be of concern to me as a GM.

Add in a salary floor. If a team doesn’t reach X amount on the payroll, then they suffer some consequence. Maybe take away compensation picks from the team, or move their draft spot. It would definitley encourage spending from teams, and make teams that refuse to have even league average payrolls to spend more to get players.

The floor helps the players get their families out of poverty, a ceiling helps the owners get wealthier.

Why do we keep calling Harper & Manny SUPERSTARS? They are very good players, but they are certainly not superstars and should not be paid as such.

At least 20 other players starting with Trout, Betts, Verlander, Scherzer, Sale, Altuve, Lindor, Yelich, Rameriz, Arenado, Judge…..”

I would rather have each one of them over Machado and Harper for the next 5 years. Would even take a chance on Goldschmidt at age 31 over them. Solid classy ballplayer that comes out every day to play. Never a problem. Team leader. Winner. Consistent run producer and saves the infield with his D at 1B. _ _ _

If a walkout does in fact come to pass, you’ll be happy to know I’m done. I have a life. Friends and relatives that played ball and followed MLB for 30-40 years think I’m nuts keeping an eye on it. The player movement and absolutely awful fundamental play along with the walks and strikeouts have made a joke of what was once an American institution. So what’s new?

They both are and i have no clue how you can say otherwise. And dont give bryce harpers batting avg last year as reason why. Look at his career OPS. He is a superstar

What happens to Harper’s career OPS if you take out 2015? It’s looking more and more like an outlier every year.

Sure, Manny Machado is the same as Chad Pinder. Great contribution to the discourse ya got there friend.

One big problem is the number of players that it takes to have a successful baseball team. You need 25 guys. At $6 million average, that’s $150 million, which is more or less the average payroll today, or at least close to it. If you give one player $35-$40 million, that leaves $110 million or so to spread around to the other 24 players, so you have to have a bunch of young guys that can play, and who are cheap, or you have to blow your payroll up. There’s really no middle ground. It gets even worse when you have a team like Tampa with a total payroll of $50 million or whatever it is .They’ve cut loose 2 very good everyday players the last couple of years in Cron and Dickerson for no reason other than they are CHEAP. They should be penalized heavily for that type of action, IMO.

I remember when players hit free agency and let the owners figure out how much they were worth, but today it’s the players telling owners how much they are worth and obviously it’s not working for either side

They also need to add more playoff teams. I mean the Ray’s won 90 and got nothing, to draft higher, that’s it.

I think the answer would be get rid of divisions, not more playoff teams. The season is long enough as-is.

Yes, but it would bring more excitement to more teams and bring in more fans. MLB needs to attract young fans

Man, money really kills the romance of the game. I wish more guys (players and owners alike) were more like Nick Markakis who recently said “I play a kid’s game and make a lot of money” discussing his recent modest contract of $6 mil.

Thing is, the owners make a helluva lot more, but no one sees that. All baseball fans wanted to play in the major leagues, so they relate to players. Fans simply don’t relate to owners.

How about the rock bottom salaries Jay Z and Beyonce pay their back up musicians and those that produce the products in their various businesses. Jay Z made over $74m last year. He can afford to pay his employees more.

How much actual risk is there though? There is barely any risk whatsoever in professional sports nowadays when it comes to ownership. They know what their incomes are going to be, and don’t have to rely on ticket sales and concessions like a couple of decades ago. For the most part they don’t even have to pay for their own stadiums, but get to keep the naming rights revenue.

I read of an idea that is pretty intriguing. To take a step towards preventing tanking, change how the draft order is determined. Teams that make the playoffs still go to the bottom of the draft, but every team that misses the playoffs drafts in the reverse order they do now – the team with the best record who didn’t make the playoffs gets the #1 pick, etc.

Not the worst idea in the world but it’d probably have to go through a trial by fire. I don’t know if it would work or not.

There’s another thing that’s unique to baseball, and that’s the extensive minor league systems. Player development costs a lot of money, and owners see no real return on those investments. Are minor league teams self-supporting or do the big clubs have to subsidize them in order for them to survive? I could research it, I suppose, but I’m lazy….LOL

Here is a radical solution taken from soccer leagues around the world. Relegate the bottom teams to Triple A, and promote the top teams from triple A.

I’d like to see a few drastic changes: 6 yr max contracts, salary cap and floor starting in 2025 so teams have plenty of time to figure things out, re-location of the Ray’s and Marlins along with complete realignment, randomized international draft

Minor league ball is not meant to be a career. Think of it as an internship, You don’t do it to make a living wage, You do it for a chance to make surreal money in the majors.

I can’t see this happening. Are the owners really going to give up their record 10 billion dollar revenues just to save a few million on payrolls per year. If so, good riddance.

Pay minor leaguers a responsible to profit living wage for 12 months, something like $75,000 should do, with 8000 minor leaguers, that’s $6B out of $10B right there. 8000 people get to live better quality lives instead of 30-100 wealthy elites get more profit.

Here’s what the laws of economics say happens when the price of goods or services is raised artificially: demand goes down. If you raise the cost of hiring a minor leaguer 10 to 20 times, teams simply get rid of most of their farm systems. Small market teams will likely have to get rid of everything except their triple A team.

And it’s not like colleges can pick up the slack. Baseball is hard to learn to play well. That’s why the lower minors don’t attract spectators: no one wants to see teenagers play baseball. Even the really talented ones are bad at it, at that age.

So everyone except for that lucky 10 to 20% that gets drafted will have two options: 1. give up baseball, and pick a sport you can get into college with 2. go play abroad (Mexico, Korea, Japan, China, wherever there’s baseball, and the League isn’t dumb enough to create ridiculously high barrier for entry.

As for all the young Latin players, that’s simple: Japan. Even relatively high ceiling guys would have to go to Japan, because for a US team to sign a 16 year old, and pay him $75,000/year for 5-6 years, just for that 10-20% chance that he’ll eventually make it into the majors, is bad economics.

I bet the NPB would jump at the opportunity to start signing 16 year old talent with similar tools to a Luis Severino or Gary Sanchez. They would probably even build a minor league just for Latin kids, and hire former pros who speak Spanish to coach them, to reduce the culture shock.

So no more 10 year contracts? Shucks, who didn’t see this coming. Something tells me that Harper and Machado have both been offered very good contracts, just not market changing.

6 year max contracts are a good idea. That way, players and management alike would be in a much better position regarding value. If you reduced service time to free agency to 4 years instead of 6, the best players would have 2 shots at free agency, too. Take a guy like Ronald Acuna. He would be eligible for free agency at age 24, and again at age 30. For your top players, this would mean beaucoup bucks down the road.

Yankees and Cubs should have given Machado and Harper $400M deals last month, had the greedy owners stopped caring more about profit than winning. It’s pure owner greediness. The fans that are angry about player salaries are mad at themselves for not making that money, and therefore do not care where that money “saved” would go (back into owners pockets). How much money do billionaires need? Why bother owning a sports team if you aren’t willing to do make money not an option if it comes to winning a title? So many coward, greedy, scummy owners out there.

Business ownership comes with privileges. Being an employee has privileges too Business owners “Own The Remote Control”

If the players strike, because $25 Mil/year isn’t enough…….. I don’t care if they “Ever Play Again” Send them home and fill the team with other players.

Dumb comment, just moronic, the players deserve a bigger share of the profits, the owners are getting too much and then crying poor when it comes to handing over that profit. It’s highway robbery. The owners are scumbags.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Players want to use modern tech and metrics to capitalize on earnings yet don’t want the same tools to work against them. They can’t have it both ways. Secondly, I think it’s a joke that players sit and whine about not getting what they want and cry foul against the owners. I don’t blame any team for not wanting to commit to long term contracts. I’ll use an example. If players got paid each year based on the previous years performance and they were elite, that one year money is still life changing coin. I understand the desire to set up for the future but if they don’t like it they could certainly start their own league. MLB is a business and the players are nothing more than employees. Just like any other business. I’ll add that they are very well paid in comparison to the average annual salary of the common folk.

Before anybody can cry about league minimum, $500,000 is plenty to survive on. Even after any deductions.

Sure, it’s plenty to survive on. And, since that’s your criteria for whether something is fair or not, you should be fine with a lost season when the players go on strike. After all, you don’t need baseball to survive.

Do you really think the player gets $500,000 though? Because come on. Agent fees, taxes, if they are from a poor background they have to help out family. Trust me, you’d be surprised at the quality of life some MLB players have outside the game.

Agent fees are usually 4% ($20 K on $500 K). After taxes, $500 K is about $340 K, minus state income tax for a single person, $365 K for married.

Why should they not be well paid compared to a desk jockey making $50K a year? They’re successful professional athletes in the #1 league in the world that has billion dollar profits every year, due directly to what the players do. I cannot fathom anyone who would get mad that 1 owner is getting $500 million a year instead of a billion. And at the cost of the fan, because they are purposely putting a bad team out there to maximize profits. If you defend this over the player, go away.

Looks like Ken learned to avoid being specific with his made up news. This way, no one’s gonna call him out, like Machado’s agent did when he invented that $175M offer by the White Sox.

Rosenthal made up that “leak” about the White Sox’ offer? If so, he really is a tool of the owners.

And MLBTR and others sites should start treating his stories as PR Press releases instead of as news.

I don’t know if KR made it up himself, but someone made it up, and Ken reported it without checking it in any way.

Instead of arbitration, restricted free agency, tied to a free agent draft similar to what MLB had in the 70’s.

The CBA is what it is, and the Union negotiated the last one without grasping what the owners were trying to do. They are stuck with it until the next time around.

I’m struck by the number of people wanting to reduce players salaries, take away guaranteed contracts, etc. I think you are shooting at the wrong targets. You want to see quality baseball, you want teams to at least try to be competitive, For example, I get the business logic of what Orioles are doing this offseason–rummaging through the bargain bin, but it’s depressing seeing so many teams uncaring about the results on the field. Tickets are overpriced, of course. But they are really overpriced when you are watching a poor team with no exciting players (yours or theirs) and with that team keeping down talent in their minor league system to manipulate service time. I don’t care that much whether the players get the last dollar out of every contract. But I do care about competitiveness.

The reason why Machado is still unemployed isn’t Ellsbury, it’s Miguel Andujar. If they didn’t have Andujar, the Yankees would’ve already signed Machado.

The notion that owing $21M/year to Ellsbury for the next two years is keeping a team with $800M in projected 2019 revenues from signing Machado is silly.

– Sort out the pre-arb and pre-FA dynamic. Teams have too many years of cheap control of players. Now that Teams have worked out the economic value of producing players being paid a pittance, they’ve become less reliant and less interested in paying big FA dollars. It’s half the reason (at least) the FA markets have been so glacially slow the last few years. The MLBPA needs to get money in the hands of their players earlier.

– Give MiLB players a better share. Unfortunately, this is a moral action – one which the MLB Owners and MLBPA have absolutely none of. They have collectively negotiated away the rights of MiLB players for decades, without representing them at the table in any way, shape or form. Minor Leaguers are a bargaining chip, and that’s not okay.

The MLB and MLBPA have negotiated away the rights of people they don’t even represent, for decades. It’s horrendous.

Don’t even get me started on how the MLB Ownership group is trying to push for state-level changes to ensure Minor League Players are except from minimum wage laws. Absolutely disgraceful.

It’s not a “moral action”. Most of those players are only playing baseball because they cost their employer next to nothing. If they did cost a lot, they would be released. Teams wouldn’t just continue employing thousands of 18 year olds no one is interested in seeing play baseball (most of them with an infinitesimal chance of ever becoming good enough that people would want to see them play), if it became an expensive proposition to do so.

So there’s nothing wrong with that system. If you’re not good enough to command a significant signing bonus after you’re drafted, baseball isn’t your job, it’s your hobby, and you should count your lucky stars that there’s a system that not only hands you all the equipment and facilities you need to practice your hobby for free, but it even gives you enough pocket change for food and rent for the six months of the season. And you only need to work for a living in the off-season, instead of the 11 months a year everyone else puts in.

Mike Piazza came from a very wealthy family in Philadelphia. He was subsidized by his father. He didn’t have to go to work after school (he used a batting cage and pitching machine in his parents back yard).

Piazza’s father has been lifelong friends with Tommy Lasorda. In fact, Lasorda is Mike’s Godfather. Dodgers drafted him in the late rounds as a favor to Tommy. Never expected him to amount to much. Credit to Mike for working so hard for years.

They key here : Dodgers drafted him in the late rounds as a favor to Tommy. Never expected him to amount to much. Credit to Mike for working so hard for years.

And couple that with your other statement: Mike Piazza came from a very wealthy family in Philadelphia. He was subsidized by his father.

And you see why the current system is flawed. Not everyone comes from a wealthy family and can be subsidized by their father

Imagine I went over to your house and started singing in front of it. You didn’t ask me to be there, you don’t want to see me, and you really would like me to leave because I”m wasting your time. Then imagine I come up to you and demand you pay me for my services at $X/hour because I’m poor and need to feed my family of 8 kids. There is no way you would pay me because the job I did isn’t worth that to you, i.e., I didn’t provide $X/hour services to you. so you should not be obligated to pay.

Those minor league parks operate, for the most part, on their own. Vlad Guerrero is probably getting his salary subsidized by the big club, but for the most part, those clubs operate within their own revenue. If you are a fringe minor leaguer, do you really honestly think you are bringing in more than a thousand a month for the team? I’ll go one further and say that I imagine those guys are actually bringing in LESS than that and their salaries are being subsidized by the big talents.

The myth that owners are greedy misers and the whole “robber baron” thing was largely (note: largely) a myth spread by the early unions to garner support for themselves. And ironically, the reason we have health benefits at jobs now is because business owners wanted to pay people more but couldn’t because, you guessed it, the unions forbade it. So they had to work in non-salary benefits to entice people to work for them. So actually, over the course of the years, unions have actually contributed to LOWER wages than we would have had now.

I probably lean on the side of old school, but it’s time MLB implement a playoff ranking for each league like NFL and NBA. Top 8 (or 6) from each league battle it out. Incentive for players to sign with various teams and for the teams themselves to invest.

The idea of asking prices for Harper and Machado starting at 400 mil is just too stupid. Max dollar and all the risk on a 10+ year deal? What a joke. That has nothing to do with trying to win or tanking. That’s a quest for a stupid owner.

Until players can look at the success of large contracts and figure out a way to make them successful more often there is simply no reason for clubs to take so much risk.

Unfortunately, when the top players hold out it crashes the whole market as the team’s with the most money refuse to spend until the top guys sign.

Maybe I’m the outsider but I don’t see where Machado can even ask for 300mill+. None of his stats scream superstar. Yeah he’s young and has talent but he’s not taking a 80 Win team to a 90 win team. Even Harper who’s had up and down seasons w/ a lot of injuries never really has never really lived up to the hype.

I believe the dollar amount isn’t as much the issue as the fact it’s guaranteed. Every big contract is so in favor of the player that front offices are finally realizing that no trade clauses with opt outs for the player aren’t fair to a team.

If you want something mutually beneficial then the team/player should have a mutual option after year five. Honestly, if you have underperformed in those five years then do you deserve to keep getting paid? If you want to keep your 7-10 year deal then earn it.

I don’t know any other profession in which you’re allowed to get paid 10 years ahead of time to ‘possibly’ earn your pay.

They should be paid a flat rate on performance and attendance just like every other job in the world. You can get a signing bonus, but after that you have to earn your pay. This way young guys who produce early can make more also.

Of course they can. They do this in every CBA negotiation by including a deal to raise the minimum salary. In the next negotiation they can and should move that number significantly higher.

The core problem that results in both ridiculous free agent salaries and declining player share of revenue is that the current system causes younger players to subsidize older players. The union is as responsible for creating this as the owners are. They should be getting together and rebalancing salaries so that younger players are making much closer to what they’re actually worth. But this will drop free agent salaries so the current union is unlikely to support it.

The solution to both the MLBPA’s main problem of declining salaries and MLB’s main problem of lacking competitive balance is the same….a cap/floor system.

Players currently get 39% of revenue, so a system based on a 50/50 split would put another $1 billion per year in the players pockets.

Add in a draft lottery where the worst team could pick as late as #10 and no team can pick in the top 5 for more than two straight years and you have most teams in the league trying to win and paying more to players.

The owners would have to devise a better revenue sharing system, but they could work out a system where the cash poor teams that struggle to meet the salary floor can owe that money back upon the sale of the franchise or when windfalls like the BamTech sale come along.

The MLBPA had good reason to reject a salary cap when the owners and GM’s were dumb and spent wildly, but now a salary floor is their best hope of changing the new salary paradigm. They should also push for arbitration after 2 years and restricted free agency after 4 years.

I almost lost interest in watching the game the last time they did this… This time, if it happens again I imagine there will be many people in the same boat and will likely just stop watching all together.

I would never come back again if these players ask for more money. Enough is enough. Prices are already impossible for people that make minimum wage to attend a game. It is becoming a game to entertain the wealthy only.

“As Rosenthal rightly points out, the league surely cannot force teams to spend more money. They sure can force them to try to win games: team owners are required to give their best efforts to win every game: That their efforts have always included spending money , they must spend the maximum amount available to win games. Failure to do so and especially tanking is against the rules:

MLB Rule 21 (a): MISCONDUCT IN PLAYING BASEBALL. Any player or person connected with a club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned; or who shall intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a club to lose, or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way connected; or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform his Major League President and the Commissioner.

Even though I am a HUGE fan of MLB, I think if we put this much time & effort in solving real life problems like poverty or treating cancer we could solve both problems.

Unfortunately we spend all this time and effort complaining about entertainment. No wonder beer costs $12 and tickets are over $50, We’d rather throw our time & money at billionaire owners and millionaire players instead of solving real problems in our communities.

They are crying over the difference of 200 and 300 million dollars. A Powerball winning ticket that the rest of us can only dream about. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are homeless, sick, living in tents and in their cars, only hoping to one day have a roof over their head while these idiots think working out and hitting a ball is worth more than their lives. It really is disgusting. It is just a sick, socialist mindset to think that the employee should make near or equal to what your employer makes. That is just bad economics.

The defining characteristic of socialism is to take money from the wealthy and distribute equally among those less deserving while giving up any say so in the matter. That is where we are headed.

It was announced today that Israel has developed a quick and inexpensive cure for cancer, If true this will be the most effective medical and economic contribution to the worlds people in many generations. and we can go on spending our time on discussing free agency.

Maybe one of the players is highly overrated and not worth 300M. Maybe one doesn’t like to hustle and isn’t worth 300M. Maybe they are both egomaniacs with personality defects and neither one is worth 300M. Maybe no owner wants to sign ridiculous long term contracts to a couple of primadonnas while rewarding their sleeze ball agents for driving up prices? Shut it down. Hire some kids at 10 times minimum wage with meals and travel expenses covered to play a fun game. Wouldn’t that be awesome? We could all get a seat, dog, and drink for 20 bucks again. SHUT IT DOWN.

Why? because no none wants to give 300 mil + 10 yr contracts. Keep going with that trend and baseball comes to an end. Think about what it costs to attend games and what the prices will look like for the fan. No I Think baseball is trending the right direction apart from Rosenthal’s world in which everyone has a price.

Jose Altuve excepted an extension He was already extended at 6 mil a year and the team got him to sign for 5 more years at what 24 mil a year. Now Altuve bats what 330 + and hits 20 + hr a year + gold glove steals bases etc. What were Machado’s and Harpers stats again and did they propel their teams to the big show? Get real neither one is worth what they are asking nor can either deliver.

Ken, you are part of the problem. This is borderline inflammatory, and it is an awful take on the current state of free agency. If you are implying that the current profit sharing margin of 60/40 is unfair, then clearly you have lost any common sense you had left. Where else does this exist in a democracy? Only if the players actually were offered stock in their teams, would that margin make sense. If it is an attempt to get things riled up and get clicks on your stories, then you join the ranks of all the other irresponsible journalists that have become the norm. The norm being applying controversial drama where it doesn’t exist, and make up stories to benefit your own criteria.

Nothing is going on except lesser than “superstars” are demanding superstar money in a game where long term expensive contracts are nearly always a bust. Owners are taking a stand on that, and they are right to do so. Everyone else is still getting paid at the expense of the average fan who can’t afford to go to more than a couple games a year. Grow up, Ken.

Look, if you want these teams to sign 10 year $30 million plus contracts you have to do something to mitigate the risk. Have a pool from shared revenue that helps cover the Prince Fielder situations so smaller market teams can go in on these free agents while having a safety net so a freak incident doesn’t sink the entire franchise. Have production milestones that allow teams to enter arbitration in the later years of long contracts for players one producing 6 war/year that are now producing 0.5. Let the players get paid by increasing the amount of viable market options by limiting risk.

How about this instead of this craziness about punishing teams for not winning enough. Remove the the qualifying offer system and raise the luxury tax by like 40 million this will make teams less afraid of spending money because they won’t lose prospects and will also encourage teams to try and extend there younger players do to the fact they won’t get anything for them signing with another team. They have barely raised the luxury tax even though free agents have been demanding so much more money. Also players need to be more realistic Harper in his 7 year career has been worth 27 War which is impressive but more than a third of that was produced in one season. He has the potential to be a super star but he has never been one consistently and doesn’t deserve to be paid like he has been. Lastly some teams that have been losing have still been spending money for instance the reds had like 115-120 million dollar payroll last year and still lost 97 games. They just haven’t been able to devolve pitching so punishing them for being bad even though they are spending money and trying to get better is only gonna make them suck for even longer wich will ruin the competitiveness of the league even more because all of the middle to small market teams that struggle to develope their prospects will have the same problems as the reds

Adding to what I said it’s not that I think Harper shouldn’t get paid well. I just don’t think he should be breaking record books with a 10 year 370-400 million contract. Something more like 5 years 180-190 million. Which would still be record breaking for AAV I believe

Of course, another strike will coincide with just when my team of preference should get good. Players had a good run, a course correction was overdue.

I am shedding little tears for players suffering through average salaries of 4 MILLION plus dollars a season with greedy agents like Boras trying to squeeze even more dollars out. MLB is about to go down a bunch of notches in my book if a strike comes about. It will hurt more than the 94-95 one.. But I am happy to see the most greedy of the Free Agents not getting much of a look from anyone. It happened last season and with two weeks left before Spring Training starts it is happening again this season. Folks, it may be time for a salary cap – do ya think?

America’s past time?!!? Right! You can all blame players like Machado n Harper. It just shows how much they want to win. But most notably is letting a snake of an agent named Scott dictate MLB like its a settlement hearing. Its a game……baseball is a game. American politics ruined this once great sport.

MLB and MLBPA deserve each other. People unaffiliated with either side have been decrying how bad the league’s financial system is for ages.

The union loved it, since the leadership has only ever cared about the superstars and they benefited greatly from the league’s slanted system. Even the occasional lower grade player would get lucky and cash in on an irrationally large contract. The union was happy even though those kinds of deals have been rotting the financial system for years, to the point where many teams are quitting playing the FA market at all and going into these deep rebuild cycles as soon as anything goes wrong. The only reason the union cares now is that the once-ubiquitous objectively ridiculous long term contracts are disappearing. They didn’t care that the vast majority of professional baseball players have been getting worked over forever, with no meaningful MiLB pay, a terrible scale leading to arbitration, and players below a certain caliber going straight into non-tender and DFA hell for the rest of their careers. They didn’t care about the pre-FA system until Kris Bryant and co got hit with service time manipulation. The league thought “quit crying, it’s in the CBA” and the union thought “Rabble rabble rabble! This is like slavery!” Nobody said anything about how that was indicative of several deeper problems with the financial system that aren’t really related to the league-darling Cubs or a star in Bryant.

Until the league decides to try and do what’s overall best for *all* of the teams and the union decides to try and do what’s best for *all* of the players… it’s just going to get worse and worse.

The fact that the 20 or so mid and small market teams have to go into 3-5 year rebuilds to be contenders for 1-3 years is bad enough. But in reality most of those rebuilds fail. Twins are a perfect example – after 5 years their best player is corner OF Eddie Rosario….a fine player…..a comp to Conforto and Nimmo of the Mets…..and they have one quality starting pitcher. Their fans are understandably fed up and are demanding that they spend $50-60m for a relief pitcher and/or $200m for one of the “superstars” thinking they can catch the Indians……a team that was on cruise control in 2018 and still finished 15 games ahead of the Twins. And if somehow that boosted Twins team got to the playoffs, the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, and Astros would demolish them. So now Twins fans have to wait till another batch of rookies comes up, spends a few years adjusting to ML ball, maybe, by which time Rosario and Berrios will be out of patience and go play for a large market contender via free agency.

Fans think free agency distributes players around the league. Maybe a few, but not enough to change a teams realistic contention prospects. Jed Lowrie and DJ LeMahieu signed with NYC teams to be utility infielders. Most teams cannot afford that salary for a utility guy. Many could justify the money if they were starters. But they’d rather be utility guy’s for a contender then a starter for a team that’s a long shot for the playoffs. And how about Zach Britton? He said “winning is more important then closing” and got closers money from the Yankees to be a set-up pitcher. Most teams in MLB could not afford to pay his salary as a closer anyway.

Until all local TV revenues are shared equally between all teams, these imbalances will obviously continue.

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Well….free agents can always head to Japan. Sometimes we all have to make hard life choices about money.

I think all players contracts should be something along the lines of pay for performance I.e. Sign a two or three year contract along the lines of somebody hits 20 home runs gets 2.5 million 100 RBI ‘s gets 2 million 10 wins 2 million and so on because even though Jacoby elsbury is on insurance the Yankees couldn’t pay another player without going over the luxury tax Hope you get the idea.

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