I am going to resist the urge to dig in TOO deeply on this report, because there’s still a lot of critical information we don’t know, as even Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich acknowledge. That is to say, I want to react strongly to certain topline numbers in the report. But I’ve been burned enough in the past when it comes to these strategic leaks by one side or the other to know that there’s key info missing. There just is.
OK. So here’s the report, updating us on the latest in talks between the owners and the players on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which governs the sport and expires on December 1:
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) August 18, 2021
The players, of course, would be happy with a salary minimum, but pairing it with a HUGE DROP in the first luxury tax tier – AND a reported increase in the first tax from 20 to 25% – just feels like a overreach of an initial offer. Like, the kind where you go super extreme in one direction because you’re hoping the other side gets pulled back a bit from their extreme. You know, basically how negotiations between these two sides have gone for the last three and a half years on all matters. It’s gonna be another shitfest.
I said I wouldn’t overreact. I won’t. I won’t. I will also admit that there is a version of the CBA where dropping the luxury tax level could make sense *IF THE CONSEQUENCES* for going over the tax were dramatically reduced. Right now, a big part of the reason teams treat the luxury tax as a de facto salary cap is because of the combined impact of baseball consequences (i.e., draft impact) and revenue-sharing consequences (i.e., big market teams get back substantially less of their revenue-sharing money if they are over the tax in three consecutive years). Get rid of those things, and it’s just a pure tax? Well, then maybe a lower threshold in exchange for a floor starts to make some sense. We’ll see when we see.
There’s a whole lot more in the report to check out, include some notes on the players’ initial offer, which actually came all the way back in May (there was a focus on getting younger players to arbitration sooner, which – together with free agency also coming sooner – would seem to me to be the most critical things the players could ask for). It’s at least a good sign that legit, face-to-face negotiations are happening in August. I’ll take that as a positive, even as I know what’s coming next are angry words from sources on the players’ side.