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I’ve been thinking and writing about the kinds of demands the MLB Players Association should be making of Major League Baseball in this round of collective bargaining for a few years now, so it should not be a surprise that I have some thoughts on the specific proposals we do have word of from the union’s side. There is a lockout because MLB seemingly wants no change unless it’s the kind that will further benefit the owners’ pockets, while the union is pushing to close off some of the loopholes exploited by those same owners over the duration of the previous CBA. Given this, there is the chance that, even if the PA holds strong and MLB lifts the lockout more because they blinked than because they crushed the union as they hope to, the union won’t get everything it wants — some proposals will need to be dropped, others prioritized.
Two that have received a bit of attention in these early days have been the desire to cut the time it takes to get to free agency from six years to five (with an age threshold component thrown in for players who debut much later and have already toiled within their initial contract for a long time) and cutting the amount of time it takes to reach arbitration eligibility. I don’t think it’s impossible that the PA gets both of these asks, in some form, but if you asked me to bet on it, I’d say MLB moves on one but not the other in order to try to limit the “damage.”. So let’s figure out which of them the union absolutely should not give up on, and why it’s the arbitration proposal.