BRRRR, it's a cold winter for sure so far. The CBA talks ultimately haven't given any signs of life, one way or the other. However, Ball Boys and Ball girls, rest assured that today we will cover a few critical points of the CBA and find a resolution. I will also discuss which side needs to give for the point to make it work.
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1: Universal DH
Probably the most straightforward issue to talk about, but one that carries a lot of importance to several players around the MLB and the PA more than the owners. I am all for the universal DH and letting pitchers pitch, and guys like Shohei Ohtani do both. A universal DH not only means more offense, which means more exciting games, but also a better pace of play for a lineup across the board. 2020's pace of play was great, and having the universal DH made guys like Marcell Ozuna valuable to NL teams and having that roster flexibility to keep a great bat in the lineup while also putting a great defense in the field.
The owners have said they will agree to a Universal DH pre-lockout. Thus I don't think we will see a pitcher not named Shohei Ohtani hit in 2021 UNLESS Big Sexy(Bartolo Colon) comes out of retirement to rake or the Mets let DeGrom hit cause we saw in 2021 that he could be the entire offense and pitch a great game. That would be very Met's if they did that.
2: Expanded Playoffs- 14 teams
I am getting severe NFL vibes to form the 14 team playoff structure, which the NFL is doing this season, which I LOVE! Watching the NFL and following along to see who is in it, especially as we approach the later parts of the season, make watching a decent team like the Eagles fun because they are still competing week in and week out. More teams are fighting more, plunging into the season because they have a chance to make it. Look back at 2020 when we saw the expanded playoffs; the Blue Jays and Marlins made it. The Marlins pulled and were upset in the first round. That was awesome. The Blue Jays saw they were ahead of schedule and went out and loaded up and got Semien, Springer, and pushed all season long for a berth in the wildcard. The expanded playoffs wouldn't allow a team like the Cubs to sell everyone to anyone and allow the Yankees to load up with Gallo, Rizzo, and other stars because Rizzo may have stayed put in the Cubs had a chance at a seven seed. More spots in the playoffs mean more exciting games for fans and more opportunities to compete, which every professional athlete wants at the end of the day.
The PA needs to cave on this one and say yes to expanded playoffs because of the financial implications for the MLB and revenue streaming.
3: Salary Cap/Floor
I love talking about how expanded playoffs lead up to discussing salary floor and cap. When you a team like the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics who live off sabermetrics to be competitive, it's fantastic to see how dominant they are. As a fan of those clubs, it's hard to see the club be so good, develop truly sensational talents and then trade or let them walk because they can't afford them. A salary floor would bring competitive balance to teams like the Rays, Athletics, Orioles, Reds, who are usually low spenders and force them to give in-house extensions to fan favorites and even spend to bring in guys to replace others. I feel with a floor; we see a guy like Matt Chapman stay in Oakland for his career and go down as an all-time Oakland GREAT! We see more moves like the Ray's did with Franco to extend them while they're young and give them financial security and the chance to be the guy and face of the franchise for kids to watch for their entire lives.
The move here is to eliminate tanking, force teams to explore the markets, pay guys what they are worth, and compete for wins because the guys on the other side are getting paid to win. The Tigers just signed Javier Baez to a massive deal; for example, they have a young core and want to win.
The Owners will need to be the ones in the cave first and agree to a floor, no cap as the owners love that we have no cap in our sport; however, a floor is needed to keep the MLB competitive for all divisions and teams.
4: Luxury Tax Threshold Raised
According to Gabe Lacques and Bob Nightengale of USA Today, "In final proposals exchanged Wednesday, players requested a $245 million luxury tax threshold, with no progressive penalties for offenders; owners are offering a $214 million threshold, rising to $220 million in the final year of a five-year agreement." With a request to jump to $245MM, the MLBPA proposes a 16.7% jump over the '21 threshold, which would only begin to make up the ground they lost due to the non-existent or minuscule increases from 2012 onward. MLB, meanwhile, would like to increase the base tax threshold by 1.9% for 2022 and is proposing average annual increases of less than 1%."
To put the numbers into context for you, "A simple 5% increase per year beginning in 2012 would have put the 2021 base tax threshold around $290MM, yet it sat only at $210MM. Not coincidentally, only the Dodgers and Padres exceeded a $210MM payroll this year. " according to Tim Diekers.
I, for one, think that the Luxury tax is the way to go when it comes to a "cap," and teams who want to spend for top-shelf talent should be able to do so. The rest of the teams will have to spend on the second and third self talent to meet the minimum requirements or give some extensions to guys they believe in now.
The OWNERS need to give on this one and realize they have saved 80+mill over the years for no increases.
5: Free Agency and Service time.
Lastly, the next hottest topic for CBA talks. Jeff Passan of ESPN wrote earlier this month the MLBPA is hoping for players to reach free agency after six years of service or after five years of service and 29.5 years of age, whichever comes first. In August, the Athletic reported they were also seeking arbitration eligibility arising after two seasons.
This proposal eliminates service time manipulation and pushes budding young talent to the MLB sooner when they are genuinely ready. It doesn't make them wait for the inevitable call-up or risk injury at AAA.
It's evident to the OWNERS that the PA wants to get younger players money sooner and have the financially secure future they deserve.
The OWNERS will need to give on this one and agree to a reasonable system that will likely give the Players demands.
Thanks for reading about the COLD, HARD, FACTS today with me. Happy Holidays!