The Players and Owners will talk to today!! What I hope to hear.
The lockout between the MLBPA (the players, the good guys) and the MLB (the owners, the bad guys), has been a real snooze fest. If you are like me, you expected it to play out the way it has so far. NO ACTIVITY. There was no real pressure to get a deal done yet, so much like that 8 page paper that was due freshman year of college, you wait till a little closer to the deadline to knock that sucker out. I can get that both sides want a bit of a vacation, want to spend their holidays somewhere cool and fun. That’s over now. They’ll meet today (virtually) with some real discussion points on the table).
Speaking of my nemesis, Jeff Passan, you can read why right HERE…..
Good ole Jeff wrote an article a couple weeks ago at ESPN.com that outlined some basic principles that insiders told him they thought would get the deal done (eventually). I am going to share that list with you below. That article is behind a paywall, but since Jeff and I go back a minute as you can see above, I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it (fwiw, I basically ONLY have my ESPN Insider sub to read Jeff, so despite all the shade I throw at him, I still enjoy his work).
That’s a great list and would make for a nice incremental improvement to the current game we got right now. First thing last, I would say that if there is news about #3 – Universal DH or #4 – Expanded playoffs, that I don’t give a fuck. I’d assume that both of those are pretty much a given in this CBA negotiation and that we’ll have those going forward.
I have no problem with the universal DH. I will probably miss the goofiness of pitchers hitting, as I grew up with that and it always entertained me. I loved when the pitcher would hit a double or something and they’d go and get him the vinyl jacket in 90 degree weather to wear so his arm wouldn’t get cold while he’s on the base paths. *Chef’s Kiss*
I also think #4 – Expanded playoffs is a given as well. More playoffs means more money and despite it watering down a potential champion (ie, reducing the probability that the very best teams win the title), I think that ship has sailed for MLB. It is comfortable going down the path of the NHL where you are going to see more champs that weren’t world beaters in the regular season. I don’t love it. Well, I could love it, if they chose to shape it like this blog I wrote HERE.
#7 Raise the CBT Threshhold into the $230 million-plus range and remove other restraints, including nonmonetary and recidivism penalties
I also think this bullet point might not get much press today either. This is gonna be a tough one to really remedy for the players, particularly because of the guy above. I’m sure even owners that voted for this dude to be admitted into their little club don’t want him going totally out of pocket each year just because he wants to. So I wouldn’t expect much movement on this front at all even after a deal is signed, but if it does catch some steam, I doubt it’s from these discussions.
Well, we are down to four of Jeff’s suggested bullet points. I think any and all could get a real discussion today with some quality headway made and positive reports coming out of the meetings on them.
#1 Increased Minimum Wage AND #2 Bonuses for the pre-Arb over-achievers
I think these are two things both the owners and players pretty much agree needs to happen. The younger players should share in a little more of the pie. Now, owners are still very conscious of the bottom line so I don’t expect to see something like Joe Sheehan suggested in his newsletter many months ago.
Joe theorized that the league minimum should be raised to $1,000,000 and every player that gets even 1 day of service time is locked in to receive an entire year’s salary (this was to curb wearing out relievers and then shipping them back to the farm, the constant roster churn of the modern era). We won’t get that, but I could see a modest increase in the minimum wage. I think even the one suggested in the seven bullet points by Passan is extremely achievable, so maybe that comes rolling out of these talks as something that gets “accomplished” or is getting done.
As far as the pre-arb bonus pool, I have heard thrown around that maybe players would get fWAR (Fangraphs WAR) based additional compensation or possibly some bonuses based on player awards voting. How about this, since we are in the competitive spirit and want our teams to strive for the next win, no matter how immaterial it may be to a playoff birth. Maybe you award “teams” their bonus pool for the pre-arb players based on team victories and then allow the teams to chop that up as they see fit?
This allows contribution to victory to really matter. So a veteran laden team that has an awesome rookie 7th inning guy that’s coming up big in the clutch can get some extra cheddar to that player for their contribution to winning. Maybe a combination of all 3. Regardless, I expect to potentially see some discussion wins with these two.
The DRAFT and disincentives
I think the teams and players can accomplish the removal of draft disincentives for signing free agents by just doing nothing. Let the goofy “Qualifying Offer” expire and just don’t replace it. It’ll be like the good old days again where you just gotta trade your good players before they reach free agency or, you know, actually fucking try to win. The QO sucked anyways, more and more players started to take it and only the miserly are seeing it as a real impediment at this point.
The actual draft and helping small market teams feels like more of an owners versus owners negotiation, so while you might hear nothing on this, you may hear something that sounds like a small win, just to give the guise of progress on this deal. Something like preferential treatment to the small market teams for post-draft free agents. Maybe a slightly bigger cap to sign those players for the first couple so they get a little extra help there.
Regardless, I think the actual negotiation starts today and if we don’t get any good vibes out of it, even I might start to worry we’ll lose some games.
What would you like to hear come outta these talks? Holler at me on Twitter with your thoughts.