The Lockout: MLB VS MLBPA (My Solutions)
The Lockout: MLB VS MLBPA (My Solutions)
by James Vlietstra
Match 6, 2022
I am by no means a negotiator, but it’s past time that baseball came up with a compromise. I am going to review the issues and come up with a solution that’s best for the sport. I will begin with some of the easier points and move on towards the ones that are currently threatening the future of our national pastime.
Games have already been canceled. Let’s figure this out for the best interest of the sport.
Universal DH: It seems that both sides want this, and who wouldn’t? Pitchers are a prized commodity and clubs cringe when they are at bat. With this agreement, the MLBPA will get 15 veteran offensive players that should make more money.
Bigger Bases: This is really a non-issue. Not a big deal, make them bigger. A game of inches just got that much closer. Everyone wins.
Extra Inning Ghost Runner and 7-inning Doubleheaders: Extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures. It was tried, it didn’t work. Eliminate them and move on.
Pitch Clock: Most MLB pitchers have already been in leagues that used pitch clocks, if it’ll speed up the down time, go for it. If there is a veteran pitcher that never pitched with a clock, and it seems like a problem for that pitcher, grandfather that person for a year and let the rule not apply in 2022 as that pitcher gets used to a new system. Easy. Done.
Shift: It seems like there’s at least some traction towards adopting a rule change to require two infielders on each side of second base. I can see this being an issue as a fielder might race towards his goal destination as the pitcher is releasing the ball and then the umpire has to judge if it’s legal etc.. But, whatever. I am not too hung up on this and doubt they are either. This is another easy solution to a concern.
Rosters: Increase the active roster to 27 players with a max of 13 pitchers.
International Draft: Beginning in 2024, implement an International draft to take place in the beginning of August. MLB Trade Rumors has reported that a 20 round draft has been discussed. I would also be in favor of allowing trades as part of this.
Draft Penalties: Remove the draft pick penalties for signing free agents. Instead award a bonus pick after the first round if the player was a top 50 WAR player, after second round if WAR is 51-100, and after third if 101-200.
Draft Order: In an attempt to discourage tanking, award the best team not in the playoffs the first pick in the draft. Second best gets second, etc until worst team gets number 18. Then reverse order of elimination for playoff teams. First team eliminated gets 19, World Series winner gets 30.
All-Star Week: While discussing draft picks, let’s allow trades. Both for players and their pool allotment. Also change the date of the draft to take place at the site of the All-Star Game on Sunday evening making for a few days of excitement – Monday night Home Run Derby, Tuesday night Hall of Fame induction, Wednesday night All Star Game, Thursday continuation of the draft, Friday resume regular season. Allow for a week long celebration of baseball stars past, present, and future.
length of Season: The owners have claimed that April games are a losing proposition and are willing to lose early season games for more playoff games. Perhaps it’s time to return to a 154 game season. Load management is going to become a thing and stars will likely take more regular days offs. So let’s reduce the number of April games to 21, May will have 29, June 28, July 24, August 29, and September 23.
Double Headers: Schedule a couple of split entry doubleheaders on Saturdays and holidays. Football and basketball games highlight Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Baseball has Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day , and Labor Day. They should promote and market these days better. Have games at 12:00 (noon) and 6:00 p.m.. These double-headers will allow the players some days off during the month.
Paying Minor Leaguers: Players are asking for one less year of control and the owners are never going to give into it. I personally hate a system that takes 10-12 years from the time a player is drafted to the time they hit free agency. But since this is unlikely to change, let’s do something nice for those that can use it. Provide a minimum salary to minor leaguers under contract. If an organization has 300 players at $30,000 each a year that’s only $9M a team. Increase that number $5,000 a year until it’s $50,000 in 2026.
Minimum Salary: The minimum pay that the players want is $725,000 this year with $20,000 increases each year. The owners want to pay $700,000 with $10,000 increases. Let’s go with the owners suggestion here, but also give the players $100,000 bonus once they get a year of service time.
Pre-Arbitration Pool: The players are asking for a pre-arbitration pool number starting at $85M and increasing $5M a year. The owners have countered with a $30M pool. Let’s go ahead and start it at $30 and add $15M a year for four years until it gets to $90M.
Salary Floor: Bless You Boys reported that each MLB team received $91M In national TV revenue and an additional $118M in the shared (48%) gate receipts. That’s well over $200M each without counting local TV deals, unshared gate receipts and corporate sponsorship.
Based on this, let’s implement a salary floor that starts at $70M and increase it $10M a year. By the fifth year, it’ll finally be up to $110M.
Playoffs: By altering the schedule, the regular season can end by September 24, which would allow more time for the 12-team playoff. The first and second seeds get byes and the wildcard round can increase to a Best of 5 followed by a best of 7 in each the divisional, championship and World Series rounds.
Luxury Tax: At the moment it appears that the sport is being held hostage by a select group of owners that are steadfast in their efforts to keep the CBT where it is. The Angels, Tigers, Reds and Diamondbacks are among the teams that have voted against raising it. Per Sportrac, the Orioles ($42M payroll in 2021), Guardians ($50), Pirates ($54), Marlins $58), and Rays ($70) are other possible small market teams refusing to make a deal.
The 2021 CBT number was $210M. Several teams, including the Yankees treated it like a hard cap. The owners have proposed an increase to $220 and slowly rising to $230 by 2026. The players have countered with numbers starting at $238 and increasing to $263. Well this year has already been shortened. Let’s go with a CBT of $215M for this year then increase it $10M a year so it’s $255M in 2026.
Perhaps the owners need to bargain among themselves in order to get the required Yes votes. Maybe increase the shared gate receipts from 48% to 60%. Another possibility is expanding to 32 teams. If each expansion team pays a $1.2B fee, each existing owner will receive $80M.
Conclusion: Most of what I am proposing is owner friendly in the beginning and player friendly at the end. Each side will be compromising and saving face. The sport of baseball has seen its popularity waning in recent years even while it has increased its market share past $11 Billion. The fans view the leadership as a bunch of money hungry, baseball hating villains.
Spring Training is supposed to be a time when every fan base and every team has excitement. Excitement for the end of a long winter. Excitement for news of our favorite players. Excitement for the upcoming season.
Until a deal is consummated between the owners and the players, there will be an increase in animosity from the fans towards both sides. With solutions such as these, baseball can return quickly.
The sport needs this, more than they might realize.