Don’t expect a quick resolution to the MLB lockout

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“When will the lockout end?” is kind of an open question at this point. There was very little reason for it to end quickly after MLB’s owners enacted it, no matter how much optimism commissioner Rob Manfred might have publicly displayed in a lockout being a path to a quick resolution of the issues between the clubs and the players. Considering the MLBPA’s reaction to the lockout was basically “this is only going to make us angrier with you, you know” and a bunch of rolled eyes at Manfred’s letter, well, there is even less reason to believe that things are going to be smoothed out in a hurry.

Which is fine, of course, these things should take all the time they need to take in order to sort themselves out, but it is worth noting that we’re in for a long winter. The chances of this being resolved by springtime aren’t necessarily high, and I’m talking the seasonal date there, not the spring training one.

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MLBPA rep Ian Happ spoke on MLB’s inaction before the CBA expired

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The players haven’t said much with regards to specifics about the collective bargaining sessions with Major League Baseball, but we got a little bit of insight on the pre-lockout process from Cubs’ union representative, Ian Happ. The Chicago outfielder explained to 670 The Score how negotiations went in Dallas in the final days before the lockout began, and it all serves as further evidence that MLB had no intention of actually attempting to work things out before the previous CBA expired.

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On negotiating a potential expanded MLB postseason

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The MLB Players Association is correct to not give in to the owners’ idea of an economic proposal, but at some point, they’re going to need to concede some ground on the areas the league really cares about in order to bring about the kind of changes they want on their side of things. This isn’t meant to say, “hey, union, hurry it up!” or anything — take your time, guys, get that best version of a CBA no matter how long it takes — but more as a warning that some version of an expanded postseason is likely on the way.

The owners, obviously, want an expanded postseason. They want it for two reasons. The first is that more postseason rounds and games means larger (and maybe even more) national television contracts to broadcast postseason games. The second is that teams can make it to the postseason more often without actually trying to, which will help combat the idea that a significant chunk of the league regularly isn’t putting in anything close to their best effort, or any effort at all. After all, they just made the postseason!

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MLB’s lacking luxury tax increase a reminder of the limitations of bargained thresholds

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Just a few weeks back, in reaction to one of the few economic proposals Major League Baseball actually bothered to submit while the now-expired collective bargaining agreement was still active, I wrote about how MLB’s pay-for-WAR, algorithmic plan to replace arbitration could not work without revenue scaling. Two days into the lockout, it’s time to give another example as to why any of these plans that rely on bargaining financial thresholds have the same inherent problem, and that’s because of how MLB has treated the raising of the luxury tax threshold during talks so far.

As was reported by Evan Drellich, MLB proposed raising the luxury tax threshold from the 2021 figure of $210 million to $214 million, with it eventually reaching $220 million by the final year of the new CBA. That’s clearly just a starter offer in terms of raising the luxury tax threshold — the numbers would almost surely be at least a little bit bigger if the two sides were finished negotiating by now — but what sticks out to me is that it’s presented as a concession at all. Not by Drellich, who is one of the few writers at a major outlet who is actually nailing the framing and depth of their coverage, but by MLB. Inflation exists. Revenues climb. The value of money changes over time. The luxury tax threshold increasing should just be a thing that is expected to happen, not something that is considered a concession, especially not with the minuscule bumps the league is proposing.

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A busy weekend for free agents suggests a lockout is likely

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We’re just a few days away from the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement: when the clock strikes midnight and December 2 arrives, that’s it. There was a sudden flurry of free agent activity this weekend, with likely more to come — Max Scherzer is rumored to be close to a deal with the Mets, but as of this writing nothing is official — and there is a pretty reasonable explanation for it all that MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted on Sunday night:

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A brief history of MLB’s lockouts

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The history of strikes in Major League Baseball gets a lot of play in historical look backs, but lockouts? Not nearly as much. Baseball Reference’s comprehensive encyclopedia Bullpen doesn’t even have a page just for lockouts: it just lumped them in with the “Strikes (labor)” page instead. Part of this lack of attention is because there has never been an MLB game canceled because of a lockout: even the one that dragged into the start of the season just pushed back when games were played. They tend to be a thing that occurs during spring training, with the owners balking at some demand the players are making, and then, the lockout ends shortly after.

So, with a lockout potentially on the horizon this winter or next spring, let’s take a look back at the previous times the owners locked all the doors to keep the players out.

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In CBA talks, all that matters is what’s said behind closed doors

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My latest for Baseball Prospectus took a look at the growing whispers around the ongoing collective bargaining occurring between Major League Baseball and the Players Association. It’s behind BP’s paywall for subscribers, but I can give you the gist of it and a quote before we dive in a little further:

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Someone should do something about all of the payroll disparity

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USA Today published an opinion piece by reporter Bob Nightengale on Tuesday, titled “MLB’s payroll disparity has become laughable, threatening the integrity of sport.” Don’t worry, it’s not a screed bemoaning the spending of the Dodgers, the team that is heavily featured in the intro to the piece. Nightengale is pointing out how much the Dodgers spend (a lot) as well as some other heavy spenders, in order to contrast them with all of the teams spending under $100 million, in some cases, much, much less than that.

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Round-up: NCAA disrespects women athletes, revenue sharing, minor-league pay

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Today’s newsletter is going to be a bit of a week-end round-up of topics, as there are a few things floating around in my head or that I’d like to share with y’all. So, here goes.

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Usually part of the disparity between respect paid to men’s and women’s sport is in the pay itself, but don’t worry, the amateur-filled NCAA found another way to show they care less about the women athletes in their ranks than the men. The start of March Madness brought us social media posts showing off the truth of this, and it ranged from the space the women’s basketball players had to work out, to the food they were provided, to the kinds of swag and merch available for their half of the March Madness tournament.

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The MLBPA has managed to triple the minimum salary before

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For Baseball Prospectus last November, I wrote about the need for the Major League Baseball Players Association to fight to increase the minimum salary in their next collective bargaining talks with MLB. I’ve brought this up a few times since, because those talks will begin at some point in the coming weeks or months, given the current CBA expires in December and the regular season is slated to start in less than a month: it should be one of the primary focus points for the union, as it has the kind of from-the-ground-up energy necessary to ensure a strong future for the PA and its members, much more so than the current trickle-down-ish model where massive contracts for superstars keep the average salary up while, in reality, the league exploits young, inexpensive players en masse.

My suggestion was to triple the minimum salary, and the reasoning why that instead of some other possible plans, like reaching free agency earlier, is below:

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