After months of slow negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the Players Association, there finally appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
After a meeting on Monday, there is another one scheduled for Tuesday, which is not necessarily an indication that a deal is close, but it’s a sign of progress nonetheless.
A few days ago, it was reported that the owners were “testing” the players, and if Monday’s meeting was any indication, the union is willing to make some concessions after all.
Whether it’s fair or not that the players are the ones making concessions is up for debate, but that’s the case at the moment: the union, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, dropped the request to give some players free agency before six years.
The baseball players union dropped the request to give some players free agency before 6 years, which is at least a step. Even better: the union and MLB have scheduled another meeting for tomorrow.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 24, 2022
Owners Are Being Inflexible
That’s something owners were inflexible about: they did not want free agency to start before six years.
Not even five years.
Until the last CBA, which expired on December 1, 2021, a player would earn the league minimum for his three first seasons in the majors.
The minimum was $570,500 in 2021.
After those three seasons, a player would have a chance of earning more per MLB’s salary arbitration.
After the three arbitration seasons, ballplayers are able to negotiate with other clubs, after six years of service time (which is often manipulated by teams to get an extra year of control).
Apparently, things will stay the same on that front.
A player who received his first opportunity in MLB at 25 will be able to test free agency at 31 if his service time isn’t manipulated.
At 31, the players are often losing physical conditions, especially power pitchers and speedsters.
The “prime” of a player varies: sometimes it starts at 25 and ends at 30.
Sometimes, it lasts until the player is 33 or 34.
When players enter free agency, often between ages 29-33, teams become wary of paying the “decline” years.
Six Years To Reach Free Agency Is Too Much
It would make sense if players could be able to reach free agency sooner: in MLB’s world, the best and youngest players are underpaid, and they are overpaid when they are declining.
Six years is a lot of time until reaching free agency.
Injuries, decline, and other things can factor in the player’s developmental curve: some of them are no longer contributors when they reach free agency, and they miss the chance of getting paid and achieving financial stability.
The lifespan of a professional athlete is short: in baseball, the best of the best play between 15 and 20 years, and many players don’t even reach the required six years for free agency.
There needs to be a fair compensation scheme for players in the early years of his career.
It’s too bad the union is withdrawing that particular request, even amid comments from owners that they might be willing to “lose games”.
MLB owners gave mixed signals about timing of 2022 season. On the one hand, they say they’re hoping to reach a deal on time for a full season.
But in today’s session they also indicated they’re willing to lose games. That was a first for these talks. pic.twitter.com/fyMSBHEwiC
— Victor Paul Weiland (@baseballvic42) January 25, 2022
Time is running out if both parties want to start spring training on time.
It usually begins in mid-February with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp.
The first spring training games are scheduled for February 26.
It remains to be seen if a deal is reached relatively quick so MLB doesn’t have to scratch those off the schedule.NEXT: Braves Had The Perfect Tweet To Remember The World Series