Just Some Thoughts

The lockout is still on, now over three months long. It’s the longest work stoppage in baseball history other than the 1994/5 strike.

Both sides are still exchanging proposals that amount to not much and aren’t worth detailing. A few thoughts, though:

The players have hold firm on the minimum salary. The owners finally offered $700K/year on March 1, the first time they made an offer commensurate with what is paid in other American major pro sports. A lot of the owners’ offers, however, have had concessions in one area while taking back offers in others. The players can’t let that happen to the minimum salary and thus harm the prearbitration players.

Draft lotteries do not prevent tanking. The two sides have negotiated to the top 5-6 picks being allocated via a lottery, like the NBA does with all the non-playoff teams. If it were a good fix, there’d be minimal tanking in the NBA, right? Well, in baseball, 100 losses is pointed out as a truly miserable season. That’s a .383 record. Right now, on Mar 7, 2022, 7 NBA teams are at .383 or worse. Virtually all baseball fans can immediately name the 1962 Mets, their inaugural season, as the worst baseball team since 1900. They had a .250 record (40-120). Right now two NBA teams have a winning percentage as bad or worse than the 1962 Mets and another is only one game better. In other words, NBA teams are tanking hard, and their draft lottery hasn’t changed that at all.

Another group the MLBPA really needs to try to protect is “the middle class” of free agents—the players worth roughly 2 WAR/season…not stars, not scrubs. In 2014, they averaged around $11.5M/year on free agent signings. Last offseason it was a bit under $7M/year. Why? There is no salary floor, that’s why. The MLBPA balks at anything sounding like a salary cap but have already unwittingly let that cat out of the bag with the “luxury tax” threshold and failed to obtain the protection of a salary floor. That the owners don’t want to give them one is made obvious when the only offer they made that included one also stipulated a $30+M decease in the luxury tax threshold. If there were a floor, teams would have to either pay more for middle class vets, or to the younger players. If you are an owner, under the current system, who do you want—a minimum salary pre-arb player or a $7-11M bet?

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