Unless you have been living on a deserted island recently without any access to any form of media, you know that the relationship between the MLB players & owners is not doing too well. There are still some pretty big name free agents waiting for their big payday. Among them are Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb. Teams are not throwing around money the way they used to, and the players are not too happy about that.
There has been talk (since dismissed) of a “Spring boycott” and even some rumbling of a potential strike in the not too far off future. The players feel as though they are being mistreated and are not thrilled with how the new CBA is working against them.
Well, truth be told, they only have themselves to blame for that. After all they did vote for this current contract. They had to know that at some point their current agreement would blow up in their faces. My guess is they did know this, but that they were not expecting things to get this bad this soon. This current deal is heavily in favor of the owners and they are loving every bit of the current CBA. The owners are taking advantage of the situation which was pretty much wrapped and placed on their front porch.
The problem though, is that the players are not happy and they are not afraid to let that be known. Threats of strike have been made a number of times by some fairly big names who are currently under contract. That leads to some fans asking why is a man who has a contract complaining? He is speaking for and standing with his union brothers who are still trying to get paid, as well as speaking out against a flawed system because they will be entering the free agent class themselves at some point.
No one wants a strike. Not the owners, not the players and certainly not the fans who are the real victim if there is indeed a strike. When billionaires and millionaires fight over money, the fans are the real losers. The two sides need to sit down and work out a deal that benefits both players and owners. A contract which would give each side leverage in key areas.
Let’s start with the luxury tax. Get rid of the luxury tax. Owners hate this because they get penalized for spending money to improve their team while players hate this because they cannot get the money they feel they deserve. In my opinion, the luxury tax hurts more than help. Keep the competitive balance fees, but eliminate the tax which goes up the more you are over “budget”
One thing that should be done, is raise the minimum salary for a major league player. Making the major leagues is hard. I get that $500k a year is a crap load of money for most people, but in a profession such as baseball that is a low figure. Raise that up to about $750k. A big increase, but not one that will hurt the owners to give up.
Currently, a team has rookies under contract control for six years, with arbitration raises in most cases after their third year. Swing this part to the players. Allow them to enter the arbitration phase after year two, allowing them to start making “real money” earlier in their careers. Also, get rid of the super two status. All players are arbitration eligible after their second year in the majors. This should eliminate teams waiting a week or two to call up their stud prospects just to gain that “extra year of control”.
Owners will not like this, as they want to keep these guys “cheap” as long as they can. However, I propose extending team control over the players to seven years. Again, those too prospects are typically held down just long enough to ensure that seventh year anyway. Just make that a condition of the rookie deal. Eliminate the bullshit. Fans hate that, the players hate that. Just call him up for game one and let your fans enjoy him.
Another edge for the players should be to either eliminate the designated hitter entirely and add a player to the roster bringing the total to 26 every day or make the designated hitter universal. The players association would love either because that means jobs. The DH would mean those “aged vets” could hang around longer and make more money.
Now, I have the players getting a lot. That is because if you are going for something big, you need to make some big concessions. I propose a hard cap. Not on what a team can spend every year (even though technically that is what I am doing) but on what a player can make. Put a cap on the number of years you can sign a player to, and a cap as far as what they can earn in a year. I do not know what a fair number would be for either years or salary per (I will leave that for smarter men than I) but owners would love this. No bidding war. When a team cannot have a financial edge, players would not be chasing money as much as rings. Sure, we see players taking less in order to play for a winner, but making things more of an “even playing field” would help the competitive balance.
The problem is getting the sides to agree to these terms. Players will not want a cap, owners will not want to pay more for their players under control any earlier than they have to. Especially not if their are more players on their rosters. No one wants to give up any edge that they may have over the other.
I remember an old saying which paraphrased says “the perfect contract is one neither side likes”.
Yeah, none of my ideas will likely ever go farther than this blog, but if they did, I feel these concessions would go a long way to keeping the peace and avoiding a strike.