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How will MLB’s frenzy of free agents affect the upcoming shutdown and CBA negotiations?



With the baseball team’s CBA expiring almost certainly at 11:59 p.m. ET on December 1, there’s no new agreement between MLB and MLBPA owners, and the work stoppage is expected to follow. What followed – in the form of an owner-mandated lockdown – we’ve seen in basically an unprecedented amount of activity in the freelance market over the past few days.

The parties on both sides – owners and players – have spent the last few days before the expected shutdown looking for certainty, and the furnace is hotter than ever when deals are agreed with the company. speed is usually only for the July 31 trading deadline.

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On Sunday, Marcus Semien, Kevin Gausman, Avisail Garcia, Jon Gray, Corey Kluber and Michael Lorenzen (among others) are said to have agreed to deals totaling $409 million. That, friends, was just the warm-up to Monday’s mania, as former Dodgers Max Scherzer and Corey Seager cashed in on huge contracts – 37-year-old Scherzer has landed three-year contract with Mets with an average annual salary of $43.3 million and 27-year-old Seager said yes to 10-year contract, $325 million with Rangers. And, that’s right, AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray has agreed to a $115 million contract with the Mariners.

If the CBA were to expire every year on December 1st, free agency would be a lot more fun, wouldn’t it?

The big question is: What does this frenzy mean for the upcoming CBA negotiations? And the answer, of course, is this: It’s complicated. Let’s take a look at some of the thoughts and implications.

1. MLBPA will remain firmly against wage cap

Following the rumors and trades that have spread on Twitter over the past two days, I keep thinking back to something Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told me during a phone interview during the World Series. Glavine, of course, was a player representative for the MLBPA during the 1994-95 strike and was often the union spokesman during that stale labor dispute.

“During the last strike, we never asked for more money. We never asked to be paid more. We just don’t want to cap wages,” Glavine said. “Pay us whatever you want to pay us, but we don’t want to put in place a system that gives owners artificial control over themselves in an environment they don’t want to.”

With no hard salary cap, Mets owner Steve Cohen showed no restraint when he signed a three-year contract with Scherzer for an average AAV of $43.3 million, many years above the record. 36 million AAV by Gerrit Cole. And Rangers showed no restraint, committing even $500 million to a pair of central midfielders, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Players don’t want any part of the system that prevents these types of transactions.

Those ownership groups are focused on only one thing: We want this player and will do whatever it takes to land him. Now, are all owners happy with the Mets and Rangers having won as the goal instead of sticking to the budget as the motivator? No, probably not. That brings us back to Glavine’s quote about not wanting a system to prevent owners who want to spend big from spending big.

It is also the main reason that the MLBPA will also almost certainly oppose the raise, although that seems to address the concerns of other members of the MLBPA. Wages are seen as the first step towards a salary cap – if there is a limit, why not two? – and that’s pretty much everything that doesn’t start.

That’s also why the MLBPA will push for an increase in the Competitive Equilibrium Tax (luxury tax), which has not kept pace with revenue growth. For example, this threshold increased from $189 million in 2014 to $206 million in 2019 (11.1% higher), while MLB’s total revenue increased from $7.86 billion in 2014 to $10, $37 billion in 2019 (31.9 percent higher).

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2. Let’s dig deep, friends

Nathaniel Grow, associate professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, has written extensively on baseball CBA topics and issues for several years. I asked him this question via email: Have the events of the past few days better elevated MLB’s position, or is MLBPA’s position moving toward CBA negotiations?

His answer: “Good question. I think the basic thing it reflects is the fact that the players are anticipating a possible long layoff, hence the desire to sign now, rather than waiting for a short-term season in the middle of a deal. about a new CBA and the opening of training in the spring. In terms of leverage, it could slightly raise the MLBPA’s position, insofar as it shows that the players are prepared for an extended hold. “

Perhaps it is worth noting that two members of the eight-player MLBPA executive subcommittee who are free agents – Semien and Scherzer – agreed ahead of a December 1 deadline. At the All-Star media day in Denver in July, Semien spoke to TSN.

“We have a good leadership team. We have eight subcommittees, most of us have years of experience in the game,” he said. “As for the player agents, we have young boys, veterans, a good mix of player agents. We are in regular contact. “

That communication is all about preparing for the storm they know is on the horizon. Gerrit Cole, another executive committee member, also has thoughts in Colorado.

“We had a lot of player engagement,” he told TSN. “To some extent, some of the difficulties we went through with the commissioner’s office last year gave us a bit of experience as a team. Right now, information is slowly drifting away whereby players are as educated as possible and certainly have access to any information they want. “

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3. Don’t read madly

Here’s the truth: Undoubtedly, giving free agents to free agents is tempting, but the reasons players and owners can prepare for a protracted bargain far outweigh the dollars. la was delivered to elite freelance agents in the last few days .

Let’s see what Jeff Passan of ESPN is the main goal for both sides.

MLBPA: higher pay dates earlier in their careers, more competitive integrity, no manipulation in service time, and fewer artificial restrictions on players through competitive equalization taxes and compensation select draft.

MLB holders: fixed spend on players, open qualifiers, international draft and on-field changes.

Of those eight major issues, how many involve free agency? Only two. So while it may seem odd on the surface for a sport that clearly generates a lot of money for both sides for owners to close the season, know that free agency is just the tip of the iceberg. tape for what could be a few months for baseball.





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