At long last, negotiations between MLB and the Players Association are starting to become serious.
A deal isn’t close yet, but both sides are already in the stage that they are willing to make compromises to get a deal done.
Owners recently said they were willing to lose games if needed, and recent reports also stated they were “testing” players, but Tuesday’s meeting finally marked some much-needed progress.
Per Jeff Passan, the league offered minimum raise to $615,000, but the union wants $775,000.
There is no deal today. There never was going to be a deal today.
The takeaway: A pre-arb bonus pool gets the best young players paid more. Players wanted it, and it's a good thing for them. Players are laughing at the $10M offer. It's far too low. Negotiations will change that.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2022
It’s a sizable difference, and millions of dollars are at stake.
Agreeing to that, however, would make no sense for the union.
Corrected math: MLB increasing its min salary offer from $600k to $615k is still nothing, a step backward in adjusted pay … Again, $1 in 2017, at the start of the last CBA, is worth $0.86 today. To keep up with inflation alone, the min would need to be $650k in 2022.
— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) January 25, 2022
To keep up with inflation and actually benefit the players, the minimum salary would need to be much closer to what the union is asking than what the owners are offering.
According to the Washington Post’s Chelsea Jane, the league dropped its proposal to modify salary arbitration and end Super Two.
MLB is dropping its proposals to change arbitration and end Super Two, per a person familiar with today’s proposal. Have also agreed to union’s idea of a bonus pool, funded by central revenue, to reward players with less than three years service time who win awards, hit WAR marks
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) January 25, 2022
A Bonus Pool For Young Stars Is In The Works
Additionally, owners also “agreed to the player’s idea of a bonus pool, funded by central revenue, to reward players with less than three years of service time who win awards, hit WAR marks”.
However, there are a few issues with this point.
The concept is not bad, but there are various WAR (Wins Above Replacement) versions beyond the two most popular: FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.
Besides the potential problems that could present themselves if those sites change the formula to calculate WAR, the league and players will need to decide which version to use.
Passan reported that the pre-arbitration bonus pool would be for the “top 30 WAR”.
The problem is that MLB is offering $10 million for the pool, and the MLBPA wants $105 million.
As you can see, both sides are still way, way apart on the numbers, but at least, the framework for better compensation for young players has been set.
It’s a good way to pay the young stars more money, although the players outside the top 30 in WAR are still left on the outside looking in.
Time Is Running Out
Another noteworthy development is that the Players Association offered, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, “to decrease the revenue sharing increase they requested (from big markets to small) from $100 million to $30 million.”
MLB players union offered to decrease the revenue sharing increase they requested (from big markets to small) from $100M to $30M. MLB meanwhile is staying steadfast in saying revenue sharing formula will remain the same. Management source predicts union will give this up in trade
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 25, 2022
A source told Heyman that players will eventually make a concession on this particular front, because the league wants no changes to the current arrangement.
All in all, Heyman’s opinion is that both sides have made important concessions in the last few hours, so there is at least some optimism that a deal will eventually get done.
Overall, Monday and Tuesday were two successful days of bargaining.
However, if the sides can’t come to a full agreement soon, things could start to get messy.
Spring training usually starts in mid-February, and we are already in late January.
The first spring training games are scheduled for February 26.
There is hope among fans that those games don’t have to be cancelled, but for that to happen, momentum needs to keep growing.
A deal is still far from done, but it’s good to see both sides willing to concede some things in order to move forward.