Oh ... So the Owners Who Opposed MLB's Last Offer Are Definitely Not the Ones I Would Have Guessed

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Oh … So the Owners Who Opposed MLB’s Last Offer Are Definitely Not the Ones I Would Have Guessed

Chicago Cubs

For all the reasons I dug into last night, I think it is important to discuss the report that four MLB owners voted no on the league’s “best” offer this past week, believing it was too generous for the players. But, as I said then, it’s also important not to go too far with information that (1) is very convenient for one side to have out there, and (2) could be more flexible than it initially sounds.

One thing I didn’t get into, at least not explicitly, was the identities of the four teams/owners that had voted no. They weren’t named in the original SNY report, and I didn’t see much point in trying to name names. I figured we all knew they were among the smaller-market teams that stand to benefit most from holding down the bigger-market teams and artificially depressing salaries across the board. That was enough for me.

Well. I was kinda wrong. Because these are definitely not the precise teams I would have guessed:

What an odd mix that is. If you search for a harmonizing principle, you’re going to come up short, because you’ve got only one historically always tight franchise (Reds), one periodically very tight franchise (Diamondbacks), one franchise that goes through cycles of spending very aggressively (Tigers), and one franchise that pretty much always spends aggressively (Angels). You could characterize Cincinnati and Detroit in the smaller-market bucket, but they have not historically been among the smaller-market clubs that get beefed about.

So what the heck is bringing these particular four owners together? Just a desire to keeps salaries down? (Maybe.) Divisional concerns about big spending opponents? (That would seem to apply only to the Diamondbacks and maybe the Reds.) Just big boss problems with paying employees too much money? (Who knows.)

I mean, it’s not like it’s just “teams that don’t like to go over the luxury tax,” because that’s most teams! Heck, the Pirates and Rays and A’s and Marlins apparently voted yes on this thing, but the Angels did not? What the what? (Also, if those teams can get on board with a proposal but you cannot, then you should probably feel some additional shame, if possible.)

One other thing that’s really interesting here: what if some of our assumptions about who is driving the CBA talks from the owner side have been … wrong? What if it isn’t a coalition of smaller-market clubs? Or ones that don’t do particularly well in April and May? Could it be that, while many of the owners are on board with the overall strategy (either get a ridiculous win, or cancel a big chunk of games), the divisions among them on the finer points are much more idiosyncratic and broad-based? What if we can’t predict the positions of the owners in relation to the CBT as well as we would have thought?

I gotta mull this a bit, because these are just not the four teams I would’ve come up. Sure, two of them would’ve been frequently among my attempts, but let’s just say, if it were a Wordle, I would absolutely lose my streak. Also? Evan Drellich is not exactly known as an MLB shill or owner-friendly reporter. I have actually found him to be very fair throughout this cycle, so him dropping this information makes me wonder all the more about where the incentives lie (could this actually be coming from some owners that WANT to out the Reds/Diamondbacks/Angels/Tigers, and want public pressure applied?).

Like I said last night, I still think when the rubber meets the road and the negotiations get serious again (in a few weeks, probably), some owners might change their votes when they know they are the deciding vote, and/or where they are incentivized to do so by their fellow owners with some kind of internal give. Leverage, even on one side of a negotiation within its own body, is still a thing. More on that here.

(Also, the meal money thing … come on. My very quick math has it that teams provide about $500,000 in meal money throughout the year, give or take. Is that really worth pissing players off to get included in the CBT calculation? Other benefits are included, yes, so it’s not like this is an OUTLANDISH request. But it does effectively shave half a million off the final numbers.)

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.