There are too many missing pieces in the wedge between MLB and its players
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred cancelled the first week of the upcoming regular season after the owners and the players failed to reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the MLB-imposed deadline.
There were reports late Monday night that the two sides were nearing an agreement, but the next day any momentum that had been gained was gone. Here’s a closer look at the key disagreements:
Pre-arbitration bonus pool
Owners: $30 million (U.S.)
Players: $85 million, with $5-million annual increases
At issue: The money would be distributed to a select group of pre-arbitration players who have between two and three years of service. This pool was first suggested by the players to get younger members paid more earlier in their careers. The union initially asked for arbitration to begin after Year 2 but settled for this model instead.
Competitive balance tax
Owners: $220 million (2022-24), 224 million (2025), 230 million (2026)
Players: $238 million (2022), 244 million (2023), 250 million (2024), 256 million (2025), 263 million (2026)
At issue: Teams that exceed the CBT are required to pay what essentially amounts to a luxury tax. There are escalating fees based on how much teams outspend the limit. The owners initially wanted harsher tax rates before reverting back to those from the previous CBA on Tuesday.
Owners: $700,000, increasing to $740,000 over the duration of the deal
Players: $725,000, with increases of $20,000 per year.
At issue: One of the union’s top priorities was getting its youngest members paid more money. This is another way to do that and either proposal would mark a significant increase over the approximately $570,000 minimum salary from 2021. The owners made a slew of proposals with minimum salaries in the mid-to-upper $600,000s before increasing it to $700,000 in their final offer Tuesday.
Expanded post-season format
Owners: 14 teams
Players: 12 teams
At issue: The owners have been pushing for a bigger post-season since Day 1 because more post-season games equal more revenue. According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, the 14-team format would result in an additional $100 million while a 12-team format would bring in $85 million. The players are concerned that if the format becomes too big, there wouldn’t be enough incentive for teams to spend money on payroll to get better. The owners made a 12-team format part of their final proposal, but it would have required the players making concessions in other areas.