We’ve long been discussing the upcoming, and potentially dramatic changes to baseball with the expiration of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but so much of that discussion has been theoretical.
Although negotiations – and the groundwork for those negotiations – have been in play for a long time now, nothing was likely to really get done until after the 2016 postseason ended.
But here we are on November 10, in the middle of the offseason with an expiring CBA, and a new one being written as we speak (or read).
In the spirit of keeping up to date with those negotiations then, it’s important to keep close tabs on Commissioner Rob Manfred, who plays (potentially) a bigger role than anyone in determining the future of the sport. Manfred recently spoke at the GM Meetings this week on a number of topics to be addressed in the upcoming CBA.
First and most importantly (by a million), you’ll be glad to hear that Manfred believes a new CBA will be agreed upon and in place by the time the current deal expires (December 1). Although there haven’t been many issues in the very recent past, there’s always a chance that talks break down, and then you start worrying about a possible work stoppage. If as many changes come to fruition as expected, one could say this would be an especially contentious string of negotiations. But, if the commissioner is right and a full deal is done by the first, I think everyone in and around baseball will be happy.
But before we get too chummy, I’d like to point out that they originally had set a goal of finishing before the beginning of free agency, which passed just a few days ago. So … just keep your fingers crossed.
With so many changes potentially on tap, Manfred addressed a number of them during a news conference, starting with an International Draft – something of which Manfred is strongly in favor. “I believe that in today’s Major League Baseball, entry-level talent is crucial and that an effective Draft system is a really important way to preserve competitive balance. It’s not about money. It’s not about paying people less. It’s about access to talent and divvying up that access in a way that is pro-competitive balance.”
As you can tell, Manfred is clearly addressing the commonly refrained concern that an international draft is taking money out of the international players’ pockets and returning it to the rich owners of MLB – to which, frankly, I can see. Unfortunately, the Players’ Union might not have much to gain (immediately and directly) by sticking their neck out for players that are not yet in their union, so this may be trending in the direction of a draft.
Manfred also addressed the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo (which will include baseball as an event), though there is no specific movement there on whether MLB players will participate.
Manfred also got into perhaps the highest profile topic of the day: pace of play. As he’s said many times before, he believes the institutions they already have in place for pace of play have been effective in the past, but they lack follow through and focus from the players, teams, managers and even umpires. So, he added, “I think we’re going to look for mechanisms to try to keep it in front of people’s minds as we go forward.” Whether this results in a pitch clock (which I personally favor [Brett: same … come at us]) or something else has yet to be determined.
But Manfred didn’t stick solely with the upcoming CBA, he did switch over to some of the more team and player specific issues of today … or 2014.
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) November 9, 2016
Although it sounds like the Cardinals’ chickens will finally come home to roost, it remains likely that the penalty/discipline they receive will not be more than a slap on the wrist. Indeed, Dayn Perry suggests that it might be “some kind of hefty fine,” which … GAHHHHH.
But this isn’t really news to anyone. After the San Diego Padres received a relatively light punishment (all things considered) after their organizational and clearly strategic choice not to log all relevant medical information on their players with the league’s central medical bank, the Cardinals were expected to get off easy (because no one has been able to prove it was an organizational thing, just yet).
And finally, Manfred has said that MLB will allow the Jeurys Familia domestic violence proceedings to play out before baseball hands down a punishment of their own. In this case, you can give Manfred the benefit of the doubt. Why? Well, for one example, even after Aroldis Chapman’s domestic violence incident was concluded with no criminal charges, MLB still handed down a 30-game suspension.
Now, I am not saying that a 30-game suspension is a sufficient punishment (indeed, in many situations it would most certainly not be), but it does go to show that MLB will not turn a blind eye to these sort of issues.
What a lovely note to end on. Go Cubs.