MLB Lockout News: Owners says Players Union offer ‘went backward’, here are the latest updates

rob manfred, mlb

The past few months have been a difficult time for the game of baseball as the owners and players union have failed to come together and find a middle ground and a lot of new economic issues. With the majority of factors stalling, both sides met over the weekend trying to find more middle ground, but the MLBPA ”went backward,” according to the owners.

The two sides met for more than 90 minutes on Sunday as the players association provided a counter after a disappointing offer from the owners. With Commissioner Rob Manfred already canceling the first two series of the 2022 season, it is becoming more likely that future games will be axed as well.

Interestingly, the union gave Manfred a few wins, including a pitch clock, larger bases, and banning shifts to hurt batters who fail to hit opposite field.

Per Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

  • The union lowered its request on the pre-arbitration bonus pool from $85 million to $80 million. The owners previously proposed a $30 million central fund, meaning the gap there remains sizable, at $50 million.
  • The union ceded no ground on its request for the Competitive Balance Tax to begin at $238 million and grow to $263 million. The league has countered with a CBT threshold that starts at $220 million and slowly climbs to $230 million. This has been arguably the hottest button issue in negotiationswith four owners reportedly voting no to the proposal based solely on the CBT threshold.
  • The union also made no movement on its ask for a higher league minimum salary of $725,000 with annual raises of $20,000. The league has offered a minimum of $700,000 with annual raises of $10,000.
  • The union wants a draft lottery to determine the top six picks every summer as a means of curbing anti-competitive behavior. The league wants that lottery to cover only the top five picks.

The core economic issues of the CBA still remain at large, notably the luxury tax threshold and pre-arbitration bonus pool. The two sides are millions if not tens of millions off on the numbers, so it could take weeks/months more to find a solution.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way around these issues, but one side must completely submit. Alternatively, they will both have to meet in the middle if neither budge, and it seems as if the owners are fine letting the 2022 season pass by, despite the massive loss of income that would accrue.

Yankees News: How will the Yankees use DJ, CBA meeting today, and the Freddie Freeman option

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Questions: What do the Yankees do with DJ LeMahieu in 2022?

The New York Yankees still have many decisions to make once and if the owners and players can come to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The MLB lockout has prevented them from improving the team after doing nothing before the lockout. They still have to get a new shortstop to replace Gleyber Torres at short, an offensive upgrade at first base, another starting pitcher to replace Corey Kluber, and some insurance in center field.

This is so important because spring training and the schedule for pitchers and catchers to report south is just over two weeks. In the weeks since the lockout, the Yankee front office and general manager, Brian Cashman, have had plenty of time to figure things out, but no indication of what they will do has been forthcoming. One caveat that may be front and center in this discussion is what they will do with leadoff hitting and Gold Glove second baseman DJ LeMahieu.

Yankee fans can assume that he has lost his permanent spot at second base to Gleyber Torres, who assumed the mid-infield position at the end of the last season. The Yankees continuing to support their failed shortstop indicated that he would be the second baseman going forward. Last season the Yankees used LeMahieu as a utility infielder playing all over the infield with varying degrees of success. The Yankees know that he will be at least adequate no matter where they put him.

It appears that this season the only place he won’t play is to fill that hole at short. The Yankees are going to have to be creative. They could forget about getting a new first baseman and slot DJ there. That solidifies Torres at second and Gio Urshela at third if they do. The Yankees have the option to resign free agent Anthony Rizzo, use held over Luke Voit, go for a Matt Olson, or even spend big for Freddie Freeman if available. If they chose the put DJ at third, that could move Gio Urshela to short, solving that problem. Believe it or not, not using any of these options could lead to the trade of Voit and even Urshela in the hopes of acquiring a new shortstop. The only thing for sure is that no one knows what the Yankees will do.

Owners and Players meet again today, is spring training in jeopardy?

Today the MLBPA will present another counter-proposal to the owners’ offer that was rejected. They have had two more meetings since then, and although some progress was made, they are still far apart on agreeing, putting the start of spring training in jeopardy and the loss of some major league games.

Today is February 1, pitchers and catchers for most teams, including the New York Yankees, are supposed to report on February 16. Even if unlikely, the sides can come together and form an alliance that will give the Yankees and all the other MLB teams only two weeks to sign remaining free agents or make trades to finalize their teams for the new season. If they can’t accomplish that in that short time frame, the start of spring training will have to be moved back.

Although both sides have already achieved some level of success in the negotiations, there are still some significant issues to be resolved. No analyst believes that a final agreement will arise out of today’s talks, it could collapse entirely, and baseball will be faced with a major disaster and lost games. Today the players union is likely to offer more concessions in an effort to come to an agreement, much of whether they can tie the knot will be up to the owners and if they can negotiate in good faith.

Is Freddie Freeman an option for the New York Yankees?

The short answer is yes, even if doubtful. It was once assumed that Freeman would return to the Atlanta Braves, and that was it. But when Atlanta had the chance to zip up Freeman, they have failed to do that, showing some big cracks in the effort to retain him. Meanwhile, the Yankees and the Braves are weighing their options, including the A’s Matt Olson as a backup plan. The big stumbling block is what Freeman will demand in a contract that will be in the $180 million range. Here is what Ken Rosenthal of the Atlantic recently said:

“Our longstanding assumption — ah, they’ll just work it out — no longer applies. The Braves and Freeman didn’t work it out last spring, last summer, or in November with the lockout looming. They still might work it out, considering that an agreement remains the most sensible outcome. But rest assured, both sides are weighing their options. It would not be a surprise for either, once business resumes, to act quickly.”

 

New York Yankees: CBA questions and now COVID worries too, what’s in store for 2022?

The 2022 baseball season for the New York Yankees, and the other 29 MLB teams, seems to be getting more and more complicated day by day! As we all know, MLB is in lockdown because the sides in the Collective Bargaining Agreement couldn’t agree on a new contract by the expiration date of December 1 deadline. Those negotiations are ongoing with little progress, endangering the start of spring training that is just over two months away. Now COVID-19 has again caused questions for the start of the season as well.

Many thought that the Coronavirus might be behind us with fans back in the stands at the end of last season. But, in the past few weeks, it has raised its ugly head again. With many states still dealing with the Delta variant, the new South African Omicron variant is fast, if not already becoming the dominant variant in many states, including New York City. The problem with Omicron is that although possibly not as severe, it is far more contagious than the original strain and the Delta variant. This raises questions as to how MLB will respond. We have already seen cancellations in other sports.

We all know that if everyone was fully vaccinated, COVID would surely be less of a problem, but that is not the case. Statistics show that over 90% of those who have died recently were not vaccinated, and those are the people who are spreading all the variants and allowing the virus to create new strains. Even with the new Omicron variant sweeping the country at alarming speed, we don’t know what new variants might crop up before the baseball season is set to start.

For the New York Yankees, the immediate problem is a resolution to the CBA, because the Yankees were almost silent pre-lock-out, they still have much to do to improve the team. The Yankees need to fill the hole at shortstop. They also need a true number two starting pitcher, with the loss of Corey Kluber, help in center field, and a first baseman. How this will all fall out is anyone’s guess. Now with the increasing coronavirus. The new baseball season is now even more questionable.

Now the questions are, will the players and owners come to an agreement in time for spring training to start on time? Will the Yankees be able to fill the holes of need? Finally, how will the COVID-19 virus impact the 2022 season. Stay with EmpireSportMedia.com for all the latest New York Yankee news.

New York Yankees: What’s in store for a new CBA and the game of baseball?

The New York Yankees and the other 29 teams are at a post-season standstill, as there is a lockout in place because the owners and players couldn’t come to a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) at the expiration of the old agreement on December 1st. Meanwhile, the wheels have fallen off the wagon with no transactions or trades being made.

Through all of this, the fans are the losers with nothing happening. Many fans aren’t aware of what is at stake with a new agreement. That is not surprising because neither side is talking for the most part, and although negotiations are going on, they are moving at a snail’s pace. So, what exactly is at stake for the game, and what are the primary issues to be resolved?

  • The Players want more money sooner in their careers.
  • They want changes to arbitration or an earlier path to free agency.
  • Will there be a universal designated hitter?
  • Robot strike zone in some form.
  • Limiting pitcher throws to first base.
  • Reducing the distance between home plate and the pitching rubber.
  • Will the 10th inning rule continue?
  • Will doubleheaders be 7 or 9 innings?
  • Slightly larger bases with a less-slippery surface
  • A requirement that all four infielders have their cleats within the outer boundary of the infield dirt when the pitch is delivered.
  • A requirement that pitchers must step off the rubber to attempt a pickoff.
  • Ending the shift.
  • Players want to secure a more significant portion of the pie this off-season.

All of these items would be up to discussion in a perfect world. The fact is that they probably won’t be put into the negotiations by the owners. If they do, the players could look for a quid pro quo situation, where they accept a rule change in exchange for a financial concession. Many rule changes could lead to a better, faster-played game to benefit the fans that most think is too long. But it is not likely these rules will be discussed. The owners realize that Commissioner Manfred can make any of these changes on his own, giving the union a one-year notice.

Many fans have long complained that the 9 inning game lasts too long and that some extra-inning games are downright excruciating. In 1975 the average length of a 9 inning game was 2 hours and 25 minutes. In 2021 that climbed to 3 hours and 8 minutes and has increased in each of the last three years. Many AL East games last up to 4 hours or more  The longest game in 2021 was 5 and a half hours, between the Dodgers and the Padres, and that is with the man on second rule. Something must be done as the game of baseball is losing fans.

The main problem in these negotiations is that both sides are looking to improve their financial best interest, while what is good for the game and the fans takes a backseat. If they worked with each other in good faith and did what was best for the game, neither side would likely be hurt unequally.

The owners have always wanted a salary cap, which likely would be good for the game but would hurt superstar players. Knowing that the players will have nothing to do with that proposal, although the owners are not making that an issue in this new agreement. It should be noted that the NFL, NBA, and NHL all have salary caps. There are two concessions that could be made that would likely appease both parties and could lead to further agreements. One is for the owners to raise starting pay for young players. The union could offer to create an international draft.

What comes out of these negotiations, nobody knows. We also don’t know how long the lockout will last or if the lockout will prevent the start of spring training or even the beginning of the 2020 season. For the benefit of the game and the fans, both sides will have to make concessions to end this lockout sooner than later.

There are a couple of reasons that we give the owners the edge in the negotiations, and that is they can play the long game. Their stakes in the sport are almost guaranteed to stretch decades longer than any athlete’s playing career. Right now, the owners are relatively happy with the economic status quo. The players aren’t and are tired of the owners coming out on top in these CBA negotiations. They have said that they are not going to allow that this year. So this synopsis does not spell for an early end in the labor negotiations.

New York Yankees: It’s 1994 all over again, what you need to know

The New York Yankees and all of major league baseball went into lockout when the owners and the players couldn’t come to an agreement on a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement). This is the first work stoppage in baseball in 27 years. Although there are some differences, it is like 1994 all over again. This is a lockout by the owners; in 1994, it was a walkout by the players; nevertheless, the result is the same, no baseball interactions by any of the parties involved until a new agreement can be reached.

For all practical purposes, it means the players and owners can’t talk to each other. That means no trades, no more insane contracts offered to players, coaches can’t even work with players. Pitchers and catchers are to report to spring training in February, but they won’t be getting any instruction from trainers, coaches, or manager Aaron Boone. It has yet to be seen if players are locked out of spring training sites. Depending on the lockout length (in 1994, it was seven and half months), the 2022 season may not start on time or may not be played at all.

For baseball fans everywhere, most find both sides responsible, the players who are crying after making millions a year to play a game they love and the owners for being just as greedy. Forgetting the issues for a moment and looking deep into the responsibility for the lockout, it gets quite confusing. Without the owners, the ballplayers have no job. The owners spend millions on new ballparks, refurbishing older ones, paying players, in some cases insane amounts to play, and all the other associated costs of putting on a ballgame. This is not to recognize that owners make revenues from ticket sales, merchandise, and TV revenues.

On the player’s part, yes, most struggle in the early years of their careers in the minors, with relatively low pay and, in some cases, substandard living conditions that have significantly improved in recent years. But the reality is, isn’t that true of most workers, no matter what career they choose, the more considerable earnings come with time and experience. An example across all careers is that in the early years, you may have to share an apartment with a friend to get by, but after, say, 10 years, you may be able to afford a home. The big difference between the average Joe and a baseball player is that Joe will likely never make millions a year.

This writer tends to side with the owners who have much more at stake than the players do. However, the ballplayers do have some issues that should be addressed in their favor. The owners have supported a salary cap forever, but the players will have no part of that. If you think about it, a player that is paid $43 million a year to start 25-30 games in the course of a season makes nearly a million and a half dollars to pitch five or six innings. That is insane when an average family of four can’t afford to attend a ballgame. Not to dwell on the subject, but think about it a second. That pitcher makes more money in between pitches in one game than the ticket buyer makes annually.

To understand the work stoppage, let’s take a look at other stoppages through the years:

  • 1972: Players struck over a pension dispute. It lasted about two weeks, disrupting the 1972 season.
  • 1973: The owners locked out the player over salary arbitration during spring training that year.
  • 1976: Owner lockout during spring training over the evolving issue of player-free agency.
  • 1980: In 1980, if issue of free agency again halted spring training.
  • 1981: Players strike over free-agent compensation. The 1981 season was nearly destroyed when two months of playing time was lost.
  • 1985: Players strike over pension fund and salary arbitration. This stoppage only lost two games of the season.
  • 1990: Owner lockout over salary arbitration and free agency. Began during spring training, causing a delay in the start of the 1990 season.
  • The 1995 season was significantly abbreviated. 1994: Players strike largely over owners’ desire to implement a salary cap. This happened in August and canceled the remainder of the season, including the postseason. At the time, the Yankees were 70-43. Play resumed only after a federal judge reinstated terms of the previous CBA.
  • 2021: Owners lockout players when agreement is not evident. Players want more money sooner in their careers and want owners to stop manipulating how long a player remains in the minors. The union also wants a luxury tax overhaul to lure teams to spend more on player salaries without fear of harsh tax penalties. The players also want a higher beginning salary that now stands at $570,000. These are just some of the issues that have not been resolved. It should be pointed out that if no progress is made, the sides could agree to keep the present agreement in force to prevent the loss of the 2022 season.

For fans, they see both sides of the issues, not being sincere and willing to work together to make the game better for the sake of the fan and the game itself. Every time there is a work stoppage, fans leave the sport.

The biggest target for disgruntled fans is Commissioner Rob Manfred that has a very low approval rating that is near the bottom of the trash can. For Yankee fans, they will never forgive him for not stripping the Houston Astros of their 2017 World Series win after it was proved that they cheated. That aside, he has not been seen as doing what if best for the game. One thing that should be known about Manfred is that he is a graduate of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and has a law degree from Harvard. He should be the perfect person to resolve these issues but has failed.

“Things like a shortened reserve period, $100 million reduction in revenue sharing, and salary arbitration for the whole two-year class are bad for the sport, bad for the fans, and bad for competitive balance,” Manfred recited on Thursday, while noting that the players have not budged on any of these issues. He also said the owners have already made concessions.”

“While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is ‘broken’ — in the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x,” Manfred penned, likely echoing what he’s heard from the crybaby billionaires whose collective interest he represents. “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.”

In addition to the issues at hand, the players believe the owners have had their way in recent agreements and are not going to let that happen again. Tony Clark, leader of the players union, has been less verbal about the lack of an agreement, but he did say on Thursday:

“From the outset, it seems as if the league has been more interested in the appearance of bargaining than bargaining itself,” said Clark, who then stressed that M.L.B. wasn’t required to impose a lockout. He added, “And contrary to the statement that imposing a lockout would be helpful in bringing negotiations to a conclusion, players consider it unnecessary and provocative. This lockout won’t pressure or intimidate players into a deal that they don’t believe is fair.”

With the sides still very far apart, and neither side willing to work in good faith, it spells for a very long work stoppage, as seen by most industry insiders. Stay with EmpireSportsMedia.com for all the latest developments.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.