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.

Yankee and MLB News: Players furious over owners refusal to compromise

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees and all of baseball have now entered its 88th day of the dragging on negotiations to achieve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that expired on December 1, 2021. During the first half of the postseason, the sides showed no urgency in getting anything done. But, now, in the last weeks, there has been a flurry of activity. Some of that activity has been somewhat encouraging, but the sides are still far apart on some major issues.

With spring training games already canceled, the owners produced their last proposals, which the players rejected. The players came back with a set of compromises that the owners soundly rejected, seemingly unwilling to come together for a resolution. This angered many players on the player’s union executive committee, putting talks in limbo. There is now a good chance that the regular season will not start on time. MLB says that if any games are to be canceled, they will not be made up.

At this point, it seems that the owners just want to win on the major points of contention, which has drawn the sides even further apart, as both sides want to make progress. The union has said that they are tired of losing out on these employer-employee negotiations and don’t intend to lose out again.

The MLBPA made a significant compromise proposal to the league yesterday. After the meeting, the results were not happy for either side. The owners reportedly “reacted badly” to the proposal, which saw the union attempt to compromise with MLB issues, including the arbitration system and the CBT. In the first half of the meeting, the players’ side was reportedly furious. That’s when the sides split off to private meetings. That was the start of things getting ugly. The players came back with more compromises which were quickly rejected, causing even more animosity between the sides, halting yet again the negotiations.

Early this morning, there is no news on whether the sides will meet again today. One thing is for sure, the longer the sides can’t come to a compromise, the more likely regular-season games will be canceled. Zack Britton and Gerrit Cole are both New York Yankee representatives to the Players Association.

“I was at our PA meeting in AZ, and it was exciting to see solidarity this high,” Cole tweeted. “We had 100+ players show up and are united to protect the integrity of the game.”

The present meetings between the two sides are being held at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, home of the spring training Marlins and Cardinals, in Jupiter, Florida.

Yankees/MLB News: New owners’ offer won’t help end the CBA deadlock

manfred, mlb, baseball

For the New York Yankees and other MLB teams, the owner’s newest offer won’t draw the end of the CBA impasse any closer. In fact, it is likely to assure a late start to spring training and the start of the 2022 baseball season. With the pitchers and catchers scheduled to show up today, the spring training is now officially delayed.

In the MLB’s latest offer made over the weekend, the owners asked for the ability to eliminate hundreds of minor league playing jobs in its latest labor offer to the players association. The MLBPA will have no part of that request, dragging on the negotiations that have not shown any progress and assuring a late start of the season.

The number of minor league players a team can have at any time is 180. This is called the Domestic Reserve List. The owners have allowed that to remain at current levels, but Manfred’s office, under the latest request, will be able to lower that figure in future years to as little as 150 players in the future, adjusting it up and down at a whim. This is a request that the players will soundly reject, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

In recent years the owners have proposed controlling the size of the Domestic Reserve, which was rejected multiple times. The players have not specifically responded to the request, but sources report that the players intend to reject it and any future proposals that could cut minor league jobs.

Two new MLB rules will make a complex situation even more complicated in other recent developments. Those two rules are the Universal DH for the season 2022 and beyond. The other is the loss of removal of draft pick compensation. With many National League teams now looking for a DH to replace a pitcher that used to have to pitch, it will likely be a boon to free agents, with more teams interested in acquiring them.

Training camps will remain shuttered Wednesday when pitchers and catchers had been scheduled to start workouts for a 2022 season. Unless a miracle happens in the negotiations in the next few days, the start of the 2022 season will be delayed.

MLB News: With no agreement in sight, MLB asks for federal help

With MLB and the Players Union not substantially closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB has asked the Feds to intervene to help iron out a new agreement, as the start of spring training is just two weeks away. Of course, even that move must be approved by the players union. When a new agreement could not be reached by the December 1 deadline, MLB instituted a shutdown until the sides had come together with a new agreement. Since then, the sides have had four meetings and have not been able to come together. Now MLB has asked for the assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the labor issues between the league and the MLB Players Association, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Should the two sides agree to this move, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would assist with the proceedings between the two sides, with the help hoping to move the negotiations toward a new agreement. According to one MLB official, the league sees this as the most productive path going forward to move the negotiations ahead and avoid a loss of games at the beginning of the new season, which now appears to be in jeopardy.

On December 2nd, MLB instituted the lockout that forbids the New York Yankees or any of the other 29 major league teams from having any transactions to improve their teams. The sides can not even engage with each other with talks. Talks between the sides should have been productive as the main players in the talks are both experienced negotiators. The MLBPA leader and Executive Director is a very skilled negotiator. This time the players are tired of losing in negotiations and are not willing to concede on some of their wants. The other is Commissioner Rob Manfred, that has a degree in labor negotiations, but apparently, that hasn’t been helpful either.

This was particularly important for the New York Yankees as they remained out of the early moves that saw almost half of all available free agents going to other teams. Now with only days before catchers and pitchers report for spring training, the Yankees still have the holes to fill that were present after the conclusion of the World Series. They were able to upgrade their coaching staff but were not able to acquire any new players. With the lockout, the Yankee front office and general manager Brian Cashman have had plenty of time to figure out their moves once the lockout is over, but they will have to pounce and quickly, as other teams will be in the same situation.

In the past Federal mediators have helped resolve other professional sports negotiations, particularly assisting the National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer, among others. They have not been as successful with MLB issues.

MLB and the MLBPA met on Tuesday to resolve some of the core economic issues. Past concessions bringing the sides closer seemed to be erased when those issues could not be resolved and tainting the progress already made. The MLBPA (players union) offered to reduce its bonus pool by $5 million. That pool was to increase the money available to the best minor league performers. But the talks on Tuesday did not result in any movement with that issue..

According to sources, the MLBPA remains stuck on a pair of key issues: They want a reduction in revenue sharing, and the union wants all players with two years of service time to be eligible for arbitration. The problem with these two MLBPA requests is that MLB has been steadfast, that those issues are non-starters for MLB team owners. Other issues include the leagues’ minimum salary and the competitive balance tax threshold. There have been over two dozen years of relative peace between the two sides, but this year the MLBPA has dug in its heels. The next step is for the players to agree to Federal negotiators. If they don’t do that, the start of spring training is surely in jeopardy.

If MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred can not find a way to start spring training on time, it will be just one more negative mark on the reputation of one of the most hated men in baseball. Zack  Britton is currently the Yankees’ representative to the players union.

MLB Owners and Players Union make progress toward ending the lockout

manfred, mlb, baseball

Finally, a bit of positivity regarding the Players Union and MLB owners. During a meeting in Manhattan on Monday afternoon, both sides connected for two hours, significantly longer than in previous conferences.

The MLBPA has been demanding more flexibility for players in free agency and trying to get more money in the process, but the owners stood firm, forcing the union to adjust their demands.

According to The Athletic, the MLBPA dropped a significant request to introduce an age-based free-agency system:

The Major League Baseball Players Association dropped its request to introduce an age-based free-agency system into the sport on Monday, withdrawing a proposal in one of the three major areas MLB had shown no interest in changing, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Athletic.

The MLBPA dropping the age-based free agency means that it will remain six years for players to reach an opportunity to test the open market.

There were talks of adjusting how service time was calculated, but the owners believe the sport would become one-sided in favor of teams with more salary space, so providing lesser clubs with opportunities to hold onto their players is ideal.

Of course, this means players won’t be able to cash in on their contributions and skills until after they’ve passed the threshold, which is what the union is fighting for.

In addition, the union also revised a proposal to alter revenue sharing, decreasing the demand of $100 million to $30 million. There are plenty of hurdles left for both sides to clear before they can make significant progress toward solving the CBA, but this was a great step in the right direction.

The two sides will meet once again on Tuesday afternoon to continue proceedings, so things could get done quickly unless they hit another snag, in which weeks could pass before further talks ensue.

Yankees: Are players doing enough to state their case as lockout drags on?

The New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams are in lockdown. The present CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) expired on December 1. Commissioner Rob Manfred wasted no time putting the clubs in lockdown. A lockdown forbids any transactions. Historically the owners have mostly had their way in CBA negotiations, except for getting their long-sought-after salary cap. The players association (MLBPA) knows that they are determined not to let it happen again.

With Manfred frequently speaking out, most fans know the owner’s complaints, but that is not true of the players. Few speak out on social media with their complaints; even the union head Tony Clark is seldom open about the negotiations. There are 30 owners and over 1,200 players, so the players should have the upper hand, but they don’t, they have little bargaining power. They can get more power if they state their case to fans that now see it as a fight between millionaires and billionaires. 

Having the most exposure, MLB can put pressure on the players, in many ways, including scrubbing articles and even their photos from the official MLB site. The players union has not placed a gag order on the players. The only way for the players to get the fans on their side is to talk, which almost all are not doing. If they can get the fans on their side, that is the best chance they have of putting pressure on the owners and possibly elevating their wants.

The union should schedule daily Zooms in which players explain to fans, through reporters, why they believe the game’s economy is broken. Get their case out there to the fans. Also, use your social media account. One of the significant issues they should explain is that over 90% of players earn the league minimum salary, very few players have mega-contracts, only the ones you see in the news. Players want more money sooner rather than later. The NFL, NBA, and NHL all have higher starting salaries than the MLB players. When you consider the average baseball life is only about four years, the minimum salary is significant.

Many minor league and even major-league players have second and third jobs in the off-season. They are laborers, janitors, or any position they can get to get by and feed and provide for their families. Again, I have to point out we’re are not talking about the Mike Trouts or Max Scherzer’s of the baseball world; they have plenty, and most have no worries for the rest of their lives. Most of those players are grossly overpaid.

In my opinion, compared to other sports, the players should have a higher starting salary. They should at the same time accept a reasonable salary cap, something they will never agree to. But for the time being, get out there and state your case. Get the fans on your side.

 

MLB: Where is baseball going, does baseball know?

yankees, mlb, rob manfred

MLB, the New York Yankees, and all of baseball are in transition. It could be called a war between MLB and the Players Union (MLBPA) or a war between the newbie analyticals and the baseball traditionalist. Sometimes, conflict is in the background, sometimes right up front when MLB changes that rock the baseball world.  This is a complicated situation, to say the least. This is for sure because baseball today is not the same game it was in the ’20s and ’30s, and comparisons can’t be made. Baseball is evolving, and there will be no stopping it, like it or not.

Anyone that does not believe this wait until December 1, 2021, when the present baseball collective bargaining agreement ends and will be taken up again. These two entities no longer work together, they work against each other, and there is a 50/50 chance these issues at hand will not be resolved without the first baseball strike since August of 1994 that led into the 1995 season.

Aside from the collective bargaining agreement, the last several years have seen many changes in the game we all love. Because of the lack of trust between the owners and players, the 2020 pandemic season could not be resolved to lead Commissioner Rob Manfred had to dictate a 60 game season. They did resolve some issues, and they lead to a host of changes in the game, some that the fans like and most that they don’t. The universal DH, the man on second after the ninth inning, the seven-inning doubleheaders, the relief pitcher having to face 3 hitters, and others. The only one not to remain in the 2021 season is that the NL has gone back to pitchers hitting. At some point, this has to become universal across both leagues.

Some changes in the game have just happened without the powers to be having their hands in it, and those changes will cause even more changes. A good example of this is in the past few years, pitchers have gotten better, a whole lot better at a disproportionate rate than hitters getting better. In years past, pitchers used to be encouraged to complete games; today, that is a rarity; managers across baseball actually discourage pitchers from finishing games. Today the relief pitcher is every bit as important if not more important than the starters. Starting pitchers now pitch differently than they did in years past. Years ago, when pitchers were expected to see the opposition lineup three times or more, they saved some of their best pitches to use later in the game. Today knowing that he is only expected to five or six innings, he puts it all out there, maybe even in the first inning.

Across baseball, hitting is down, and for a good reason. Better starting pitchers that go five or six innings, and then the hitters face flame-throwing relief pitchers in each inning that follows. When you have to face a new pitcher every time you come to the plate, you are at an automatic disadvantage. Less hitting and fewer runs scored creates less excitement in a game that most fans already feel is too long and tedious. Some of the changes already installed have addressed this issue, some see them as successful, and some are annoyed by them. By having a relief pitcher face, three hitters, you are reducing the number of relievers used in a game, encouraging starters to go deeper into games. The man on second rule has shortened the length of games; you aren’t going to see many games that go over 12 innings.

Like the drug era, all the changes that have happened will make comparing stats even more difficult. How successful would Babe Ruth have been hitting with a robot umpire? How successful would Mickey Mantle have been hitting today’s starters and the arsenal of one inning flame throwers? MLB in the minors is experimenting with several new changes to satisfy the issues of the day. Robots to make umpiring more accurate, moving the pitching mound back a bit to give the hitters a better chance to see the ball a bit longer and improve hitting, and a host of other changes to the game. Whether the traditionalists like it or not, the game will continue to change. The trick will be balancing it to satisfy the most people and ensure the game’s growth that has seen a slide over the last few decades. The future of baseball is on the line.

 

 

Yankees News/Rumors: Yankees ink another Montero and MLBPA playing with fire

The New York Yankees yesterday inked Fidel Montero, an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic. It is their second signing of a Montero in international free agency. On the first day of the signing period, they signed shortstop Hans Montero, who signed for $1.7M. Hans was their top target in international free agency. Furthering their efforts to produce great teams in the future, yesterday’s signing of the second Montero shows their commitment to the future.

The Yankees entered this signing period with the 2nd lowest amount of bonus-pool money, due largely in part to a 1 million dollar hit after they signed Gerrit Cole, who declined the qualifying offer from the Houston Astros late in 2019.  The Yankees have managed to sign five players. In addition to the two Monteros (not related), they signed two other players from the Dominican Republic and one from Venezuela.

Hans Montero stands between 5’10” and 6’0” tall; the shortstop Montero recently turned 17 years old this past Christmas Day. A right-handed hitter (and obviously thrower), he projects to stay at short through the majority of his career. Most talent evaluators will indicate his smooth action and play-style. He posses average plus speed and has the ability to hit the ball of all fields.

Fidel Montero is an outfielder with great promise. Fidel stands 6′ 1″ and weighs about 175 pounds. He was originally listed as a shortstop but has played in the outfield during the last few seasons, where he has been making a name for himself. He had a breakout season in 2019 as a 15-year-old. He has been listed as one of the most complete talents internationally. Ben Badler of Baseball America says that although he has great raw tools, he shows inconsistency, something the Yankees will have to fix.

MLBPA resists health discussion

Continuing to be confrontational leading up to this year’s renegotiation of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the players union seems to resist anything the owners want to do. Now they don’t even want to discuss moves to make it safer for players and staff. As the U.S. grieves another 3,500 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, the Players Association is bringing forth criticism of any plan of action for keeping on-field talent safe and healthy.

The Biden Administration scheduled a call with MLB, the owners, and the MLBPA (players union) on ways to make it safer for all involved, including a delay so that all players and staff could be vaccinated before the season starts. The MLBPA wouldn’t even take part in the phone call. The union is standing firm for no special rules and a return to 2019 play. With the union’s reluctance to even talk about health, they could be playing with fire.

MLB Analysis: MLB and MLBPA just don’t like each other, you will pay

manfred, mlb, baseball

After last year’s contentious negotiations between MLB and the players union, MLBPA, that went nowhere and ended up with the Commissioner mandating a 60 game season, it should come to no one’s surprise that the union and owners don’t like each other at all. Although there are many underlying issues, the big problem between the sides is that the players see everything the owners do leads to a salary cap that the players vehemently oppose. The owners see everything the union does is to milk more money from the owners. Yes, it’s all about money.

As a fan of the game, you can’t believe what either side says about anything; it’s all a ruse that leads back to it’s all about money. If the owners say up, the players say down, and all this contentiousness leads up to the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) that expires at the end of this season. The owners have basically had their way with the union for the last several years, but that has come to an end, with the union trying to show strength by objecting to anything the owners want to do. Who will pay in the end are, of course, the fans. Because of all of this hostility, there is a 75% chance that the new CBA’s lack of agreement will likely lead to a baseball strike.

The last baseball strike was 26 years ago when the 1994 season came to an early end on August 12th. The fans were left with no postseason after watching their favorite teams all season long. It also caused the 1995 season not to start on time. Unless these two sides can find some common ground and not be as greedy on both sides, we are headed for another baseball strike.

To refresh your memory of the MLB 1994 New York Yankee season, the strike may have prevented the Yankees from winning another World Series. When the season was halted, the Yankees under Buck Showalter were 70 and 43, 1st in the East. Wade Boggs was hitting .342; pitcher Jimmy Key was 17-4 on the season. And reliever Mike Stanley was winning games at a .800 rate. The strike prevented Showalter from a World Series win; it prevented Key from a 20 win season. It also dismayed fans beyond belief. It was like reaching 200′ from the top of Mt. Everest and being told your time had run out, and you had to go home.

In the latest episode of the drama, the owners wanted to start the season a month later with a 154 game season with full 162 game pay for the players. As always, this ended up with another disagreement between Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred and the MLBPA executive director Tony Clark. Clark immediately refusing the owner’s request for a delay. The owners sighted that it would give more time for more arms to be vaccinated and create a safer environment for players, staff, and fans.

The union sighted that it was too late to delay the season, as players had already rented homes or had their cars on trains headed to Florida or Arizona. Of course, that was a factor, but only a minor one; here is where we get back to money. The union rejected it because it did not include pay for canceled games, delays, or if the season had to be canceled altogether.

So now we have a 162 game season with no expanded postseason, no universal DH. It is basically a return to the 2019 season rules.

All of this gobbledygook doesn’t seem believable on either side of the issue. If either side was concerned about health, which both sides say they are, why didn’t the union request a delay in the season to protect players? Why did the owners wait until the last moment to ask for a delay when they knew it would be rejected?

One player’s agent paints this MLB scenario:

“Players get to spring training. They go to the market to stock the refrigerator of their rentals. They go out to dinner, some go out to bars, some go to the mall, some to other things. Cumulatively that will exponentially increase the odds of some player getting (COVID-19) and transmitting it.

“How long before a camp is closed? How long before games are canceled? How long before spring training is delayed? What happens if it then drags into the season? More importantly, what happens if someone becomes seriously ill? How is any of those things defensible if it was all avoidable?”

The bottom line is that there is no way to know if, by delaying the season, any of this could be avoidable, but it certainly would make the likelihood less probable. This is just another example of how MLB and the MLBPA could not come to an agreement for the benefit of the game.

MLB News/Rumors: Do you know the rules for the 2021 baseball season?

The question was, do you know the MLB rules for the 2021 season? Your answer is probably not. After reading this article, you will have some information but probably won’t know any more than you do now for what the rules ultimately will be for the season. The reason for that is the contentious relationship between the owners and the players. MLBPA, the MLB Players Association (players union), represents the hundreds of MLB players. MLB represents the owners of the 30 MLB teams.

If you remember, before last season, the owners and players fought for weeks over the length of the season and the rules of play, along with what the health protocols would be. Don’t expect this pre-season to be any different. Part of the reason is that the players want to show strength going into a year when they will revisit the player’s CBA (collective bargaining agreement), which expires after the 2021 season. It’s entirely possible the long era of labor peace — or, more accurately stated, the long era of the MLBPA permitting itself to be dominated by ownership without a genuine fight — may be at an end. Although there are many issues to be ironed out, the union’s main request will be for the players to receive a greater share of MLB revenues.

Here is what we know for sure at the moment. Pitchers and catchers will report on February 17, with the rest of the players following the 21st. The regular season will start on April 1 and be 162 games with no universal DH and no expanded playoffs. July 11-13, 2021, will be the MLB Draft. July 13th will be the 91st All-Star Game; it will be held at Truist Stadium, the Atlanta Braves home. July 25th will be the Hall of Fame induction ceremony that will see Derek Jeter and others inducted after the ceremony was canceled last year. August 12th will be the Field of Dreams game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. And on August 22nd will be the Little League Classic between the Los Angeles Angels and the Cleveland Indians at Williamsport, PA.

Those are the only things we know for sure, or do we? Like it or not, the coronavirus will still be the deciding factor on dates, whether fans will be allowed in stadiums, and what health protocols will be in place for players, staff, and fans alike.

Right now, the owners want a 154 game season starting almost a month later, the players have rejected that. The owners would like to see a universal DH, the player on second after nine innings, and an expanded postseason. The players have rejected that as well. As it stands now, the players are firm on returning to the rules for 2019.

The Players Association released this statement:

“Late last week the MLBPA for the first time this offseason received a proposal to delay spring training and the opening day for approximately one month.

Under the proposal the end of the season would be delayed by one week, the regular season would be shortened to 154 games, and all 30 teams would be required to play several doubleheaders. Players would also be required to accept previously rejected proposals that link expanded playoffs with expansion of the designated hitter.

Although players salaries would not be innitially prorated to a 154-game season MLB’s proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interuptions or cancellation of the season.

The MLBPA Excutive Board and player leadership reviewed and discussed the owner’s proposal over the weekend and today. The clear-cut result of these deliberatons is that the players will not accept MLB’s proposal, and instead will continue preprations for an on-time start to the 2021 season and will accept MLB’s commitment to again direct it’s clubs to prepare for an on-time start.

We do not make this decision lightly. Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead. We look forward to promptly finalizing enhanced health and safety protocols that will help players and clubs meet these challenges.”

The owners and Major League Baseball countered with:

“In light of the MLBPA’s rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon, we are moving forward and instructing our Clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols,” said the league.

Bob Nightengale and others have said that 7 inning doubleheaders and the universal DH will be back in 2021. How they came to that conclusion, I have no idea. So as it stands now, the baseball rules will be as they were before the pandemic in 2019. But like with everything else, everything is subject to change before the season actually starts. Stay tuned.

 

s