MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the MLB Players Association expires on December 1, which means there’s suddenly only a little more than a day left to get a new deal hammered out.
At last check there were still a number of hurdles, but tonight it does seem like there are signs of optimism sprinkled throughout. Among today’s developments …
- Bob Nightengale reports that owners believe a deal will be struck before the expiration of the CBA on Thursday. Nightengale cites sources who tell him there will likely be no international draft (as we heard last night), and the free agent compensation system will be tweaked. Minimum salaries will rise, the season may get slightly longer (not in terms of games, but days), and the roster changes we’ve heard about will be implemented. (Michael wrote earlier today about some of the issues that could arise with a 26th man.) Notably, Nightengale reports that the luxury tax cap may actually stay at $189 million for 2017, with only incremental increases from there. That would be a huge win for the owners overall (except for one or two who might want it increased), as they could then better keep salaries in check. Perhaps that was the price for no international draft and still getting free agent compensation tweaks.
- As for that luxury tax bit, Ken Rosenthal adds this interesting possible change:
Sources: Owners proposed forfeiting draft picks as penalty for clubs that exceed luxury-tax threshold; teams value picks more than cash.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2016
- If you’re thinking, whoa, that sounds like it would make the luxury tax cap even more “salary cap”-like, you’re not alone. Teams will very much not want to give up draft picks if they’re close to that limit. Rosenthal adds, as you might expect, that the players are very wary of approving anything that makes the luxury tax cap too much like a hard salary cap.
- Revenue-sharing rules have also, in the past, been tied to the luxury tax cap, so there are implications there (which go far beyond player-owner negotiations), too. On that front, we’re really not going to know much of anything until the deal is finalized and revealed. The Cubs, as a team that pays into the revenue-sharing pot quite significantly, are going to care a whole lot about this aspect, even if it doesn’t make many headlines.
- Earlier today, Buster Olney explored just how it is that things could be dragging on like this, right up against the deadline, when there don’t seem to be the kind of fundamental and enormous issues on the table that you’d expect to see when the words “lockout” and “strike” pop up. Part of the reason, from what Olney hears, is that it could be the changes in the leadership on the two sides, and negotiating styles that simply aren’t meshing. It’s worth remembering that there have been changes on both sides in recent years, with Tony Clark taking over at the top of the Players Association, and Dan Halem representing the owners.
- Still, Jon Morosi specifically reports that there is optimism for a deal, and the “chances of reaching a deal by tomorrow have gone up.” The work will continue well into the night, he says.
- As I mentioned earlier with the Mets re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, it’s hard for me to believe either side is willing to finalize that huge contract (with draft pick compensation implications, no less) if they didn’t have at least some sense of what the new CBA was going to look like. And the only way they’d have that sense is if the players and the owners were getting somewhat close on a deal.
- Word could break on a new CBA any time, or it’s possible we’ll learn that the sides have shifted gears toward working out an interim agreement – a way to extend the current rules and avoid a work stoppage – so that negotiations can more comfortably continue past the December 1 expiration of the current deal.