MLB owners, locked players close the gap


For all vitriols, Major League Baseball owners and locked-in players have closed the gap in recent weeks and are negotiating similar frameworks for a new collective bargaining agreement.

With the closing on Monday 96th, the parties still differ to varying degrees on three of the most important: luxury taxes, pre-arbitration bonuses and minimum wages.

Operators on March 31 were among the 91 games that have been canceled, and Commissioner Rob Manfred appears to be preparing to call in more.

“This is a terrible, terrible situation. Everyone on the Yankees, everyone in Major League Baseball has the same fault, players, owners, executives because of where we are. It’s one. looking really bad, especially (with) what’s happening in the world,” Yankees President Randy Levine said Monday on the team’s YES Network. “We all look pretty bad. … It’s a shame to be where we are.”

In an industry where payrolls are expected to total in the $4 billion range, percentage differences across several categories seem insurmountable.

The parties appear to be about $15 million apart in minimum wages for this year, $20 million for 2023 and $25 million for 2024, less than 1% of payroll each. This assumes that about half of the players in the major leagues at any given time are minimally affected.

The difference was bigger in the final two seasons, when unions demanded an increase in the cost of living.

The gap in the new pre-arbitration bonus pool is $50 million this year, growing to $70 million in 2026. Again, however, a percentage of total wages is affected by this. is relatively small, less than 2%.

And then there’s the most divisive issue, the luxury tax threshold. The two sides have a difference of $ 18 million this year, the difference increases to $ 33 million in 2026.

How much is each additional $1 million threshold likely to generate in player spending? There is no exact formula.

In the 18 luxury tax seasons, there have been three seasons one team paying taxes, 10 teams two, two teams three and one team four, five and six.

Including non-monetary penalties for the 2020 pandemic shortened season when taxes were suspended, there were 15 cases where the first threshold was exceeded in both the 2012-16 and 2017-21 agreements, up from nine. cases in 2007-11 and eight cases in 2003-06.

The maximum estimate of the impact of the luxury tax would be a factor of 5, and history shows that the actual impact is likely to be less.

With the majority of this year’s free agents already signed, there are few stars beyond Freddie Freeman and Carlos Correa who can push a team over the threshold.

MLB is concerned that a higher 2022 figure will lead to a larger threshold number in the years to come, causing a larger disparity in staffing and making it more costly for mid-range and small-market clubs to register. keep their stars.

This negotiation is not just about the highlights, and the mindset is just as important as the current positions.

The federation argues it has targeted the clubs by backing away from proposals for more liberalized free agency and reinstating paid arbitration to qualify all players with at least two years of major league service. The players also said they would agree to the uniform and helmet advertisement, with a faster process for pitch clocks and shift limits and an extension of the knockout stages, although the federation prefers 12 teams and MLB likes 14.

MLB argues they have increased player money by expanding designated opponents to the National League, reducing free agent direct compensation, increasing position value for amateur draft picks , promote the team after the season and improve pension planning.

Clubs believe they have addressed players’ concerns about young stars not being properly paid, and the union argues the teams have not yet come this far. Teams have also rejected their proposal of higher penalties for teams that exceed the tax threshold.

Both sides are close to reaching an agreement on an amateur raffle to encourage competition. Management gave the top five picks and players were asked for the top six, with some difference in limits for the teams participating in consecutive years.

Despite moving towards each other, the sides are still headed for a losing season unless they find a compromise.

“It’s a myth, horrible and horrible,” Levine said. “It would be a shame for all of us if that happened.”

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