It’s a start. A delayed start. Probably a fractious start. But a start all the same.
With MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring on December 1, and with so many serious issues facing the sport, the league, the teams, and the players, negotiations really needed to get going. In years past, CBA talks would’ve long started before now, but at least they’ve now started, according to Jeff Passan. And they didn’t start out horribly, either:
While the relationship between MLB and the union has been strained, the call today included preliminary talks on what the sides hope to achieve and was not, sources said, contentious. Plenty more discussions to have, plenty of things to achieve, but a good start for the parties.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 20, 2021
In addition to on-field needs, the economics of the game – revenue-sharing among teams, share of the pie that goes to players, service time, arbitration, etc. – are in heavy need of negotiation. With barely six months to go before the CBA expires, it’s a little hard to imagine the two sides to get together on the kind of extreme overhaul I think could work best (i.e., a true revenue-sharing system with a salary floor, earlier free agency/arbitration, higher minimums, etc., since the current version makes the luxury tax a de facto salary cap anyway when teams go over it for at least two years). I won’t pin my hopes on it.
But can competitive integrity (i.e., tanking) be addressed well? Service time games? Expanded playoffs? Universal DH? Draft spending and draft pick compensation? Qualifying offers? Trading draft picks? Expansion?
These things have to be on the table, and you have to hope that each side will see enough value in their “asks” to give back some, and that both sides will see the extreme value in labor peace. The thought of losing some or all of the 2022 season after what happened in 2020? That would be brutal for the sport.
At least the talks are underway now.