There is nothing special about Day 19 of the lockout, by the way. It just happens to be a Monday when I had some things I wanted to get to, including the latest update on actual negotiations taking place. Negotiations have happened recently, but you already know that it didn’t touch on the most important economic topics.
⇒ Jesse Rogers reports that reps for the owners and players met last week to discuss, among other things: “scheduling, grievance procedures, special events, and/or the drug and domestic violence policies.” If it could plausibly touch on economics, it isn’t going to be on the table until next month at the earliest. So it’s pretty tame stuff for now, and your unbridled hope is that the noneconomic stuff goes so smoothly that the sides are ready to dig in on core economics in the first half of January. (Your more realistic fear is that each side will stick with where they were on December 1, and it won’t be until Spring Training actually gets impacted that they even start really talking again (at which point, a delay to the start of the regular season would be a virtual lock).)
⇒ Stephanie Apstein reports that the negotiations last week were deemed minor enough that the lead negotiators on each side were not even involved.
⇒ Rogers adds in a separate piece that no negotiations are scheduled for this week, and it’s not known when the economic issues will actually be teed back up.
⇒ Speaking of the core economics, we always mention them in a general way – this issue, which impacts the money; that issue, which impacts service time and thus the money; etc. – but what if you could drill down the numbers to something more tangible? How much money is Issue X actually worth? Well, Eno Sarris took a look at just that over at The Athletic, trying to quantify the actual dollar values of the possible approaches by the sides to things like earlier free agency. There’s a version in there where the players get free agency at five years if they’re 29.5 years old, the DH is added, the minimum salary is increased sharply, and the owners get uniform patches and expanded playoffs, and the net is a wash (i.e., the uniform patches and expanded playoffs pay for the other changes). An interesting way of looking at it, and it would certainly make you think that the sides can’t possibly be as far apart as they seem – or at least that they shouldn’t be. But, well.
⇒ For me, I was mostly just interested in seeing how relatively small some of the issues actually amount to. The increase in minimum salary could be, by far, the most “expensive” change for the owners, depending on how large the increase is – but then, shouldn’t it be? Considering that something like half of all big leaguers are now pre-arbitration, shouldn’t we be shifting more of the dollars their way (in addition to increasing arbitration years and getting to free agency earlier)? For example, increasing minimum salaries to $800,000 from their current $570,000 level would “cost” more than twice as much as the plan to reduce free agency to five years for guys who are at least 29.5 years old.