The streaming talk got me thinking about RSNs and the lockout, and wondering when MLB’s broadcast partners would start poking the league toward getting a deal done. I’m sure they don’t want to be losing games for the second time in three years. The latest from the lockout …
⇒ This is framed in an almost insidious way – and I know a lotta folks don’t like Scott Boras – but I don’t know that agents having a voice in this process is necessarily an unfair thing, since they help represent the players’ interests:
Baseball faces its greatest labor crisis since the World Series was canceled in '94. The owners are increasingly convinced Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer have had their power neutered and that owners are actually negotiating against the hidden hand of the game's top agent Scott Boras https://t.co/9FllQyfFfL
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) February 7, 2022
⇒ To be sure, Scott Boras’s agency represents a lot of players on the executive board, and because his agency disproportionately represents a number of the tip top players, you could make an argument that his interests would not be in perfect alignment with, for example, the many players making the minimum. I don’t know if I would make that argument (mostly because you could make that same argument about the players, themselves), but I suppose I will say that there will always be challenges in getting consensus among players in such a range of personal situations. So, yeah, I don’t really see this as a big deal, even if it’s true.
⇒ Speaking of which, here’s Kevin Goldstein in his chat today on the topic:
Scott: I hear Boras is taking a big role in negotiations. True? and is there any way that’s a plus for getting a CBA deal?
Kevin Goldstein: True, and I don’t think it’s a big needle mover either way.
⇒ MLB sent a memo to teams explicitly telling them they cannot move the minor league Spring Training dates in response to the lockout (NY Post). It’s a little annoying that teams couldn’t, if they wanted, start minor league Spring Training earlier – since they’re gonna have all their staff available and no big leaguers to work with – to get in some extra time for their minor league players. On the other hand, maybe that would have risked creating some discomfort for the minor leaguers, who’d be coming early only because their big league brethren were locked out. So, anyway, previously-scheduled prospect minicamps can proceed like normal, but minor league Spring Training must also proceed as normal.
⇒ In case you were wondering: former big leaguers who signed minor league deals with a non-roster invite will be given the option to come to minor league camp, or continue to wait until big league camp is open. All guys on the 40-man roster, however, will be prohibited from participating in big league or minor league camp until the lockout is over.
⇒ Respect veteran Adam Wainwright on the state of negotiations (Belleville News-Democrat):
He went on to suggest, perhaps rhetorically, “Who knows? If they proposed the exact same deal that we have right now, we probably would go play baseball, to be honest with you.
“But that’s just not happening. That’s not even close to being happening, honestly. It’s pretty one-sided. And they’re not really willing to talk right now. That makes it tough.”
In a message to the News-Democrat on Sunday night, Wainwright added, “the owners current offer is far from a place we could start negotiations from. It would be interesting to see how fast something would be negotiated if they brought a more reasonable offer to the table to start.”
⇒ That is how it looks from the outside, too. I remember when the negotiating about the pandemic season was going on, and an owner offer would come out, there were ways to talk about it as being “reasonable in this way,” “rough in that way,” etc. You could spin it if you wanted, but mostly, it was in the range of having the discussion. The offers so far this time around have been pretty hard to even spin. Almost no movement in the luxury tax level, and no meaningful change in free agency or arbitration or service time manipulation. A very small draft lottery. Harsher luxury tax penalties. No change in revenue sharing. More postseason games. A small increase in the minimums (but even that includes doing away with teams’ ability to pay players more than the minimum). Removing draft pick compensation from free agents. That’s about the size of it, and it’s really not that hard to argue that’s a worse overall deal than the last CBA, which everyone agrees was a huge win for the owners! That is all to say, *based on the publicly-available information thus far*, Wainwright’s comments certainly seem fair: it would be hard to do much in negotiations when the owners’ starting point is so unreasonable.
⇒ Wainwright is not alone in the frustration, either. We’ve seen all the messages on social media, and there’s also this:
In speaking with several players, I don’t think it can be underestimated just how much dislike the collective body of the union membership has for Manfred.
“He has galvanized us in ways he can’t imagine,” said one. “He underestimates how unified we are in this moment.”
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) February 6, 2022
⇒ Marcus Stroman is not one to mince words:
Manclown and his boys need to figure it out and stop ruining the game of baseball. https://t.co/gfQz4ctQas
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) February 6, 2022