The current MLB lockout is starting to wear out fans: their teams can’t make any transactions, including free agent signings and trades, and injured players can’t even rehab at their team facilities.
It’s an extremely frustrating situation, but until MLB owners and the Players Association agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) deal, things will remain the same.
Speaking of the negotiations, things picked up on Thursday after more than a month of baffling inactivity: owners locked out players on December 1, and they didn’t have significant talks until this week.
It’s shocking that two sides with obvious interest in starting the 2022 season on time didn’t do more during December to try and move toward a deal, but that may be a discussion for another day.
For now, let’s focus on some of the players’ petitions.
A Fair Payment Structure For Players
They want fewer years from the moment a player makes his MLB debut until he reaches free agency, a number that is currently at six.
Owners don’t seem willing to move from there, though, mainly because they still want to manipulate players’ service time somehow.
Another important issue in negotiations is the fact that these players who have been recently called up currently earn just under $600,000, which is the league minimum, for three years until they hit arbitration and they can opt for a significant raise.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the league offered to increase the pay to player with two or more years of service time.
MLB offered a formula to provide more money to players with 2-plus years of service time in attempt to address concern about younger stars being vastly underpaid. The increased offer in minimum salary from $570,500 to $600K in 2022 (then scaled up in ‘23, etc.) has been on table.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 13, 2022
“MLB offered a formula to provide more money to players with 2-plus years of service time in attempt to address concern about younger stars being vastly underpaid. The increased offer in minimum salary from $570,500 to $600K in 2022 (then scaled up in ‘23, etc.) has been on table,” he wrote via Twitter.
For the players, perhaps the key here is the pay increase percentage behind the “scaled up” term.
How much more are teams willing to play these young, recently called-up players?
Players Should Earn More In Their First Few Years In MLB
It’s not fair that players earn less when they are at the peak of their physical capabilities (24-30, approximately) and earn more (in some cases) when they are on the other side of the hill.
For example, Juan Soto was an MVP candidate in each of his first three seasons (2018, 2019, and 2020), and he earned the league minimum for his efforts.
What if he suffers a career-threatening injury in spring training that ruins his chances of scoring that big extension he deserves?
It’s a good thing he earned $8.5 million in 2021, during his first year of arbitration, but you get the point.
We also have less talented players than Soto, and these are the ones who really need to earn more when they are young because they are much less likely to make a real financial difference during arbitration.
This has the look of a thing that may complicate negotiations because neither side wants to give in.
It’s not about players leaving teams earlier. It’s about paying players what they are worth. MLB has the lowest minimum salary of the 4 major sports and the most percentage of the league making the minimum salary. Teams don’t give players a chance to become a fan favorite.
— Coach Trev (@trevorplouffe) January 13, 2022
Players have every reason to fight for a fair payment structure that guarantees a higher pay than the league minimum during their first three years in the majors, especially after spending some time in the poorer economic structure and salary situation of the minor leagues.