With the near-certain expiration of the baseball collective bargaining agreement at 11:59 p.m. ET on December 1 without a new agreement between MLB and MLBPA owners and the work stoppage expected to follow, in the form of an imposed lockout. By the owners: We’ve seen what is basically an unprecedented surge of activity in the free agent market over the last few days.
The parties on both sides, the owners and the players, spent the last few days before the early closing looking for certainty, and the hot stove was as hot as ever, as the transactions were agreed at a pace normally reserved only for the deadline of changes from July 31st.
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On Sunday, Marcus Semien, Kevin Gausman, Avisail Garcia, Jon Gray, Corey Kluber and Michael Lorenzen (among others) agreed to deals worth a combined $ 409 million. That, folks, was just the warm-up act for Monday’s mania, when former Dodgers Max Scherzer and Corey Seager cashed in on huge contracts: The 37-year-old Scherzer landed a three-year contract with the Mets at a median annual salary. $ 43.3 million and the 27-year-old Seager said yes to a 10-year, $ 325 million deal with the Rangers. And, yes, American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray agreed to a $ 115 million contract with the Mariners.
If the collective bargaining agreement expired every year on December 1, free agency would be a lot more fun, huh?
The big question is this: What does this frenzy mean for the next collective agreement negotiations? And the answer, of course, is this: it’s complicated. Let’s take a look at some thoughts and implications.
1. The MLBPA will stand firmly against the salary cap.
Looking at the rumors and transactions on Twitter for the past two days, I kept thinking about something Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told me in a phone interview during the World Series. Glavine, of course, was a representative player for the MLBPA during the 1994-95 strike and often served as a union spokesperson during that nasty labor dispute.
“During the last strike, we never asked for more money. We never asked to be paid more. We just didn’t want a salary cap, ”Glavine said. “Pay us what you want to pay us, but we didn’t want to implement a system that would artificially help owners control themselves in an environment that they otherwise wouldn’t.”
Without a strict salary cap, Mets owner Steve Cohen showed no restrictions by signing Scherzer to that three-year contract with an average AAV of $ 43.3 million, which is light years ahead of the $ 43.3 million AAV. 36 million from Gerrit Cole which used to be the record. And the Rangers showed no restraint, pledging up to $ 500 million to a pair of center infield players, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Players do not want to be part of a system that avoids these types of agreements.
Those owner groups focused on just one thing: we love this player and we will do whatever it takes to get it. Now, are all the owners happy that the Mets and Rangers spent to win as a goal instead of sticking to a budget as an incentive? No, probably not. That brings us back to Glavine’s quote, about not wanting a system to prevent high-spending homeowners from spending too much.
It’s also a primary reason the MLBPA will almost certainly oppose a minimum wage as well, although that would appear to address the concerns of other MLBPA members. A minimum wage is considered the first step towards a salary cap; if there is a limit, why not two limits? – and that is quite uncertain.
It is also why the MLBPA will push to increase the levels of the competitive equilibrium tax (luxury tax), which has not kept pace with rising revenues. The threshold, for example, grew from $ 189 million in 2014 to $ 206 million in 2019 (11.1 percent more), while MLB’s gross revenue increased from $ 7.86 billion in 2014 to $ 10.37. billion in 2019 (31.9 percent more).
MORE: Max Scherzer Believes in the Mets
2. Dig Deeper, Friends
Nathaniel Grow, associate professor of law and business ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, has written extensively on baseball CBA-related issues and issues for several years. I asked him this question via email: Do the events of the past few days better improve the MLB position or the MLBPA position in the face of CBA negotiations?
His answer: “Great question. I think the main thing it reflects is the fact that players anticipate a potentially prolonged work stoppage, hence the desire to sign now, rather than waiting for a condensed offseason between an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement and the opening of training for spring. In terms of leverage, it could slightly improve the MLBPA’s position, to the extent that it suggests players are primed for prolonged resistance. “
Perhaps it’s worth noting that the two members of the MLBPA’s eight-player executive subcommittee who were free agents, Semien and Scherzer, agreed before the Dec. 1 deadline. On the All-Star media day in Denver in July, Semien spoke to TSN.
“We have a good leadership group. We have eight subcommittee members who, most of us, have a decent number of years in the game, “he said. “For player replays, we have young guys, veterans, a good mix of player replays. We are in constant communication. “
That communication was about preparing for the storm they knew was on the horizon. Gerrit Cole, another member of the executive subcommittee, also had thoughts on Colorado.
“We have had a lot of participation from the players,” he told TSN. “To some extent, some of the tribulations we went through with the commissioner’s office last year gave us a bit of experience as a group. At this point, the information is conveyed accordingly, the players are as educated as possible and they certainly have access to whatever information they want. “
@thesportingnews’ It is the season for the lockout of @mlb ⚾️🎄 # December #lockout #mlb #christmas #baseball ♬ original sound – The Sporting News
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3. Don’t read in a frenzy
Here’s the truth: The free-for-all from free agents was compelling, to be sure, but the reasons players and owners are likely poised for a lengthy negotiation go far beyond the dollars given to elite free agents in the last days. .
Let’s see what ESPN’s Jeff Passan lists as the top goals for both parties.
MLBPA – Larger paydays early in their careers, more competitive integrity, no manipulation of service time, and fewer artificial restrictions on players through competitive balancing tax and draft pick compensation.
MLB Owners: A static amount of player spending, extended playoffs, an international draft, and changes to the field.
Of those top eight topics, how many involve free agency? Only two. So while on the surface it may seem strange that a sport that is clearly making a lot of money for both parties is having owners shut down the offseason, know that free agency is just the tip of the iceberg of what could be a cold pair. months to baseball.