Gauntlets. They’re coming.
In the aggregate, it sure seems like arbitration settlements yesterday were lower than expected, and, outside of a couple outlier/extreme players, it didn’t seem like salaries for years 4 through 6 players moved ahead all that much compared to years past. In a working system where revenues are increase, pay for these players should be increasing commensurately.
To that end, Jake Arrieta has one of the most pointed messages yet:
All of you 1-3 yr players out there better be paying attention to what’s going on in our game. You’re next. @MLB
— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) January 12, 2019
I can’t say I’m surprised that it’s someone outspoken and confident like Arrieta dropping this message (which, let’s be honest, he would have felt comfortable dropping even if he hadn’t signed his free agent deal last year – Jake ain’t shy). Still, it’s jarring to see a player so plainly laying out one of the fundamental problems between the owners and the players.
It is indeed the youngest big league players who (should) stand to gain the most in the next round of collective bargaining negotiations. If the league is increasingly reluctant to pay age 30+ free agents big money, then that’s fine, but money will eventually have to shift younger if an appropriate percentage of league revenues is still going to go to the players. That could mean – in addition to trying to make teams more competitive with each other – increasing the minimum salary, increasing the years of arbitration, or shrinking the years of team control (or all three).
These are *not* things that owners are going to want to bend on, because they are truly fundamental to the financial structure of the game. But if the sport is going to continue succeeding long-term, I tend to think getting more money to prime-age players is going to be important to the health and competitive balance of the league.
This part isn’t news to you: relations are poor, and a labor stoppage in conjunction with those post-2021 CBA negotiations are as likely as ever.
You will – and probably should – see more players speaking out about these issues. Heck, the more it gets on the table soon, the slightly better chance that things are in a better place when it’s come to hammer out a new deal.