Ideas For A New CBA

R.P Piper, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, here we are, lockout in full swing. Since we have nothing better to do, I thought I’d take a stab at some ideas for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is not a comprehensive-type deal, but I will go over several key “talking points” that I believe are pertinent to the discussions going on in the current labor negotiation. Most of the scenarios and math I’ll be using are very basic, rough estimate type generalities that are not meant to raise anyone’s dander. However, if you take the time to read this, thank you and feel free to pick apart anything you wish. I am not an attorney and have no background in contract law. I’m just a fan, spitballing ideas to other fans. If you have an educated or differing opinion about the mechanics of any of these points, please feel free to comment.

Ok, so what the heck do the two sides want? Well, basically the players want more money and the owners don’t want to give more money. Easy enough, right? We know the players have some pointed topics they’d like to see addressed.

  1. They want some redemption from 2016 when they agreed to what has been widely criticized as a less than stellar deal.
  2. They want teams to compete vs actively “tanking.”
  3. They want to make the big bucks faster and stop service time manipulation.
  4. Overall, just fix a system that seems to be skewed towards squeezing the middle (the top tier salaries are fine), and give players a bigger slice of the pie. More on the pie later.

The owners really don’t want anything to change, but I suppose they’ve dangled expanded playoffs and lottery draft as somewhat of a bargaining chip. Honestly, I have no idea if these are things they really want or if that’s just window dressing.

I’m going to use 2019 numbers to explain revenue sharing in the most rudimentary way possible. 2019 is being used because we aren’t out of 2021 yet and 2020 was the outlier of all outliers, financially. In 2019 MLB reported revenues of ~10.7 billion dollars. Player salaries were in the ~4.5 billion dollar range. Basic math, 10.7-4.5=6.2, 6.2 billion / 30 teams ~ 207 million per team. Again, that’s not all that goes into the equation. This simple exercise is just for example purposes. Clearly, every team didn’t spend $200 million+ on payroll in 2019. As a matter of fact, only 4 teams had a payroll north of $200. See this link for more info on revenue sharing.

Here are some ideas geared towards compromise. Also, some rule changes that almost everyone agrees on just need to be made. Big caveat here, I fully realize you’re never going to make everyone happy. This fact also doesn’t bode well for a 2022 season starting on time.

  1. Universal DH. Make it happen.
  2. Expanded playoffs – 12 team playoffs, 1-3 seed = divisional winners, 4-6 seed = based off best overall record. 1 & 2 seeds get byes to the LDS. 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 in a 3-game “Wild Card” series to advance. It’s not that big of a deal to add one more team in each league and the owners seem to want expanded playoffs.
  3. Lottery draft – the 18 teams that don’t make the playoffs enter a lottery-style draft with descending odds of getting the #1 pick. Allow teams to trade picks! Also, signing pool money formula stays the same.
  4. Salary floor – little different spin on this. Make the salary floor a number that teams have to reach by Opening Day or some predetermined date early in the season. The final payroll number can dip below it. This accomplishes two things. Teams at least have to spend like they’re trying to compete. They won’t be penalized if they get to the deadline and they are 30 games back and want to look to the future in their deadline deals. That’s just common sense more than “tanking.” Plus, the benefit of gaining a few percentage points chance in the Lottery draft isn’t as enticing.
  5. Service time/Super 2 – team control years remain at six. Do away with Super Two. Six years has been the number forever. I really don’t see the owners budging on this. Maybe I’m wrong. At least doing away with Super Two would remove some of the service time manipulation.
  6. Extra innings rule – for the love of God, go back to regular rules. Starting a runner on second just seems ridiculous.
  7. Increase league minimum salary– this likely happens anyway but it could be another slight win for the players.
  8. Draft pick compensation – Do away with the loss of a pick just because you signed a free agent with a Qualifying Offer attached. It’s just stupid. Teams that lose a QO free agent can still gain a pick. Just don’t penalize players because they want to try and make more money a year sooner.
  9. Player revenue sharing – this last one could/should be done without the owners having to be involved. The union should adapt a “revenue/profit sharing” program much like the owners. One of their concerns is the middle tier and pre-arb/arb players aren’t making enough money, fast enough. Well, they still make pretty good money. But, if it’s that big of an issue then help each other out. When players sign a contract that results in them making more than a certain, predetermined amount of AAV, a percentage of that contract goes into a pool. At the end of the season, that pool is divided up amongst the players that didn’t make “X” amount AAV that season. They’re worried about certain players not making enough? Put your money where your mouth is. Factor in this percentage when you negotiate your huge contracts and guess where that money ends up coming from? Yep, the owners!

I’ll admit if I were to choose a “side” in these negotiations, I’d have to say I side with the players. Although, I don’t completely fault the owners for wanting to make as much money as possible. After all, they take a big risk in owning a team. What I’ve tried to do here is come up with some ideas in the spirit of compromise. The players get something they want with changes to Super Two and raising the league minimum salary. The owners get their expanded playoffs and lottery draft.

So what do you think? Please feel free to comment on Twitter. I’m at @jvickery55. I’d be glad to discuss this further while we wait on a real-life resolution to this labor dispute. Hopefully, both sides come to an agreement sooner rather than later.

Oh yeah…and end blackouts!!!

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