⇒ The MLB lockout hit 69 days today, with no surprising resolution in sight. The owners are meeting in Florida for their quarterly meetings today through Thursday, and although the Collective Bargaining Agreement MIGHT COME UP A BIT, there are no plans to meet with the MLBPA this week. Instead, it seems likely that Commissioner Rob Manfred will face the media on Thursday and talk about how intransigent the players have been, how they rejected the request to mediate, and how the owners totally just want to negotiate and get a fair deal done despite never actually seeming to negotiate.
⇒ Meanwhile, the players and MLBPA officials are meeting separately in Arizona. Again, I’m sure there’s plenty to discuss. Maybe somehow the separate meetings will spur a better process the next time negotiations take place.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Rob Manfred, Dan Halem and MLB owners are meeting at a hotel near Disney World. Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer are meeting with players in Arizona today and then later in the week, Florida. Manfred is to speak to media Thursday. No meeting between MLB, MLBPA scheduled
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 8, 2022
⇒ Your (unrealistic?) hope is that a sect of owners will take another sect of owners aside this week and talk them into stepping up with the kind of reasonable offer at the end of this week that can actually get meaningful negotiations going. Note that even if that happens, Spring Training is getting shrunk down by quite a bit. But it would be just about the only way for Opening Day to stay on track. Because absent that kind of offer from the owners, it’s really hard to see significant movement between the sides any time soon. Flags have been planted.
⇒ Speaking of which, two of the biggest have concerned arbitration (the players have reportedly wanted all players hitting arbitration after two years, not just Super Twos; the owners absolutely will not consider it) and revenue-sharing (the players want to see the amount that large market teams share with smaller market teams reduced by at least some amount, the owners absolutely will not consider it).
⇒ On arbitration, a couple pieces at FanGraphs tried to suss out the math behind the request – how much more would it cost owners to give arbitration to all players after their second year, rather than just the top 22% (Super Twos)? The estimated answers give you a really good idea why players want this so badly, and why owners oppose it so much: it could be upwards of another $200 million annually going to the players (the combined impact of players getting that first year of arbitration that they wouldn’t have gotten before, *and* the escalating increases that come from all players getting four years of arbitration instead of most players getting only three). That is a substantial sum. No question about it, and it’s a reminder why many felt like the compromise here was going to be more Super Two players, rather than all players getting that extra year of arbitration.
⇒ As for revenue-sharing among teams, the players want to reduce it so that larger-market teams have more available to spend on players (since many smaller-market teams have been accused of just pocketing the shared revenue). The problem is that the owners say, quite simply, they won’t be able to get the votes from enough owners to include a change in the formula in the new CBA. At a gut level, I’m not so sure this is SOLELY BS, since that’s all money still in the system, and you can be sure the larger-market teams would love to reduce their revenue-sharing burden. But since there are more receiving teams than paying-in teams, it may be a simple fact that you’ve got 16+ teams that will not agree to any change on this issue, and that’s why MLB is treating it as a non-starter. *Maybe* there could be a little play on it if it’s part of a total package that makes sense for owners, but when there are such starkly differing interests on a particular issue on one side of the negotiation, it can be pretty hard to get agreement. (Also, if you want to understand MLB’s revenue-sharing system better, here you go.)
⇒ I suppose I knew all that stuff on those two items already, but it was helpful for me to put it all out here in one of these updates. It makes a lot of sense why these are two bright line items for each side, and why they are trying to resolve them before they even get to the luxury tax. Which, yeah, another extremely tough issue – both the level of the tax and the penalties.
⇒ Contrary to reporting, Whit Merrifield says that the luxury tax has been brought up at every single negotiation – it isn’t necessarily being put off/ignored until the end. It’s just that the sides aren’t moving off of their requests right now, so it’s as if it isn’t being discussed. But really, it’s more like just another known issue where there’s no movement.
⇒ That Merrifield bit comes from a Q&A at The Athletic, and there was also an Andrew Miller Q&A at ESPN. The players are doing their part to get the message out:
"These young players are generating billions of dollars a year for baseball….(So) we're going to knock on the boss's door asking for a raise, because that's the way business works."
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 8, 2022
Spoke with MLBPA exec board member Andrew Miller on Friday as CBA talks enter a critical week: Shouting? Cursing? 'So be it': MLBPA rep Andrew Miller on where MLB's labor negotiations stand https://t.co/0wfF6kuV9u
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) February 7, 2022