For the New York Yankees and the other 29 franchise owners and all the players that play the game for MLB, there is just one week to settle employer employee disagreements. On December 1 at 11:59 pm the present CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) will expire. All issues must be resolved or a lock out or a player strike could take place.
What’s at stake?
If you don’t like reading about stuff like this, I will make it simple for you. It’s all about the money. The players want as much as they can get, and the owners want to keep as much as they can. It’s really that simple. Insiders to the talks don’t hold much promise that there will not be a work stoppage. The last time there was a stoppage was during August of 1994 when the players went on strike. The season was not completed, there was no World Series and baseball didn’t start again until long after the 1995 should have started. Fans were irate, with many leaving the sport not to return for a decade. Another stoppage for the sport could be devastating.
Some times it’s hard to wrap your head around all of this because it’s a sport, but make no mistake about it, it is as much a business as owners make huge investments in players and property to draw fans to their parks, and increase their TV and other revenues. For the Players, its their livelihood. There is much at stake, one side will eventually win, but the loser will be the fans themselves.
Let’s set the stage. The chief negotiator for the owners is Commissioner Rob Manfred, in the other corner is Tony Clark President of the MLB Players Association. If this sounds like a fight it is. By its very nature it is confrontational.
Here is a brief explanation of what’s at stake for the players. The last few Collective Bargaining Agreements have heavily favored the owners, and the players are sick of getting the short end of the stick. To borrow a phase, they are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. The only one without a seat at the table is what is good for the game of baseball, and you the loyal fan.
Players want more money earlier in their careers
Young players in particular want to be able to make more money earlier in their career than they presently can. The salaries of MLB players have dropped, in 2017 the average annual salary for an MLB player was $4.1 million, for 2021 it’s expected to average between $3.6-$3.7 million. It’s been reported that MLB has proposed free agency will no longer be based upon players accruing six years of big league service, but available to every player who turns 29.5 years of age. This would mean that a player 21-23 could wait more than six years to achieve free agency.
There are a host of other less interesting items to be sorted out, but Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that we could be headed for a lockout, as labor negotiations between the league and its players association are progressing slowly.
Lock outs and strikes don’t always end well, back in 1981 the Schlitz Brewing company in Wisconsin went on strike. The company was coming off a poor season of reduced revenues. Baseball is coming off a $3 Billion loss in 2020. The workers wanted more money but the company said no. Eventually Schlitz closed the plant down and 700 lost their jobs permanently. It is possible that a work stoppage that lasts into the 2022 season could put some poorer teams under.
- A lockout would put a hold on all MLB transactions.
- The league is not required to initiate a lockout after the CBA expires but may choose to do so.
- Should the two sides fail to reach an agreement before the season is set to start on March 31, MLB could face a shortened or even canceled season.
- A lockout during the postseason if it moves the process forward is not a bad thing, but if it continues beyond opening day it could be devastating.
- The players and the owners have just one week to get all the issues sorted out for the good of the game.