CBA Update – With Real Info for Once

1-15-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

On Thursday MLB made their first formal proposal to MLBPA in 42 days focusing on core economic issues. Today I’m going to lay out what was proposed, even while I acknowledge this won’t be what the final agreement looks like.

The players didn’t just shove it back across the table, but it’s also nowhere near what they wanted to see and it’s got some things in it that will make handling youngsters even harder to understand in my opinion. For all of you who feel this needs to be cap or bust, we aren’t anywhere near that with this proposal. We’re going to start with what was already on the table, and then we’ll move into what was just introduced or changed.

Universal Designated Hitter

No brainer. Most writers have told you this was coming going back to 2019 if not earlier. It’s just one of those things both sides seem more than ok with changing and I don’t think it’s enough of a benefit for one side to be anyone’s carrot.

Increased Minimum Salaries

Minimum salary in MLB is currently $570,500 for pre arbitration players (more on that later), but MLB proposed increasing minimum salaries in a tiered fashion, specifically $600, $650, and $700 thousand.

It’s not much honestly. This get’s young guys a very small uptick in pay, but it’s enough for MLB to say they put raising salaries on the table.

CBT Threshold (You know this as Luxury Tax)

The current threshold is 210 million. The owner’s proposal raises it to 214. This won’t effect anything. The teams that are close to that, will still either move up or down but in the new proposal, MLB has added a couple poison pills. First is a repeal of the additional tax on repeatedly surpassing the threshold, followed by a loss of a 3rd round pick and making the first level of tax 50%.

For the players, who want this threshold increased by as much as 50 million, I’m actually shocked this didn’t get the whole thing pushed back across the table. Thing is there simply aren’t many teams threatening this ceiling anyway, and most have made moves to stay under it without increased penalties.

Expanded Playoffs

Much like the DH, this one was coming like a freight train. The proposal is for a 14-team playoff, and nothing changed in this latest proposal.

Draft Lottery

We were already clued in that MLB was offering a draft lottery for the top 3 picks, in this proposal they added a new bugaboo where teams would not be eligible 3 years in a row. Meaning if you suck out loud for 3 straight years you won’t be picking in the top 3 every year. This doesn’t happen often anyway, so to me this will have little to no effect on anything.

Now we head into the stuff that is completely new in this proposal.

International Draft

That’s it. I didn’t see much detail on how it would be implemented yet, but simply putting it out there has some ramifications. The International draft would still be only for amateur players, in other words, this wouldn’t effect signing international free agents like our old friend Jung Ho Kang, that is was and will be a separate function.

I could write a complete separate piece on this and the draft itself, and I will I’m sure.

Draft Pick Reward for Playing Top-100 Players

This is part of the supposed effort to stop manipulation of prospects. Now most of manipulation happens to achieve Super 2 status and essentially get an extra year of service time. So rather than just eliminate Super 2, you know, something that could actually help solve the situation they tried to build in this weird reward system. Draft picks would be used as compensation for rostering top-100 prospects for an entire season, if they go on to achieve certain milestones.

This leads directly into the next proposal.

Arbitration and Super 2 Changes

They can call it whatever they want, but this is about players formerly considered Super 2. They want to replace it with a formula that determines compensation based on performance, and players who already have service time could choose to continue on the path they were already on, essentially grandfathered in if they so chose. Negotiators like to call clauses like that lawsuit beaters. When you give someone a choice, even if neither are great, they’ve still made a choice and that’s hard to overcome in litigation or grievance.

My Thoughts

Largely, this was a punt. Something to get the ball rolling.

The players largely were ignored or minimally placated on their demands. The owners did enough to be able to say they moved toward the players, even though none of these proposals come close to satisfying the asks.

The owners would take this proposal because it get’s their main objective achieved, expanded playoffs and minimal economic changes. Meaning this won’t result in the players getting much more than they have currently.

To the players credit, they didn’t just slide this back across the table and laugh. The counter to this, which MLBPA said they would provide with no timeline attached is sure to be much more aggressive.

Those of you who believe a salary cap is the only acceptable outcome, well, right now you have nothing to hang your hat on. I guess you could take the firming of the CBT as a good thing but it isn’t coming with a floor. Revenue sharing hasn’t been touched, well, unless teams would be dumb enough to pay that 50% tax and lose picks, but let’s also not pretend that proposal has a chance in hell of being adopted.

It’s a step, and the counter will be key to understanding exactly how far away they are, but on the surface, I’d guess miles.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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