The table below shows five categories relative to the viability to reach an agreement for each of twelve solutions I presented.
The line in blue is essentially already done
The lines in green will be the focus of this article. These are the issues that the two sides should be able to agree upon quickly- even this week, if they tried.
The line in yellow believe CAN be resolved IF both sides are reasonable.
The lines in red are the issues where I think we are going to have the biggest challenge over the next two months or longer. The issues involved in those areas MAY prevent the season starting on time.
The lines in purple are the issues I do not expect will be addressed in this round of the CBA negotiations. I knew then that some of my solutions were too radical for both sides, at least right now.
I will address the yellow and red issues again with some alternatives in the week ahead.
The issues in green are the issues both sides should focus on this week. These are items the two sides SHOULD be able to agree upon fairly easily. I will also update what we said about those issues in November.
Solution one- Implementation of an International draft. Salary slotting rules similar to the Domestic draft. Teams will be required to negotiate posting rules with international teams to enable the signing of their drafted players. The corruption riddled system will fight against this, but both the players and owners should want this. MLB will accelerate and improve international academies for drafted and undrafted 16-20-year olds. This draft may delay to 18-year old eligibility.
A fairer system for international player acquisition
Owners would reduce risks of investing in the wrong international players
International players would benefit from a more transparent and less corrupt system
The sport would grow internationally more
The owners want this and implementation of this favors them marginally
There is really no reason this can't happen. Both sides want it. The sport in general would benefit from a more transparent process to the MLB.
Solution five- Expand to 32 Teams by 2024
MLB will go through the expansion process and expand by one team in both leagues. League will either have Four 8-team divisions or Eight 4-team divisions. Most every time the MLB has faced significant financial upheaval in the past 45-50 years, it has been followed by expansion in the next 2-4 years.
Rating 4- Both sides win but owners win more
Players win- more jobs (7%)
Owners win- more revenue, expansion fees, increased media
This two is a win-win for both sides. It should be a no-brainer. Go to the original article to see how the league could align post expansion.
Solution six- Implement an expanded playoff
The owners have proposed a 14-team playoff and the players have offered a 12-team alternative. I suspect they will go to 12-team playoff for 2022 and a 14-team playoff when they league expands to 32 teams.
Wild Card round
Top two seeds get a bye (Division winners with best two record)
Six seed plays at Three seed (3 games- Third best division winner record)
Five seed plays at Four seed (3 games- Four best division winner record)
I think the idea of having the Three seed pick their opponent will be a publicity win that the league will want.
Rating 4- Moderately favors Owners. Owners get additional postseason media content. This is already built into their contract with ESPN. It is happening. Players may hesitate to give the owners this win to keep that chip for the harder issues.
Solution seven- Raise the minimum salary
I originally proposed the minimum salary be set to 0.3-0.4% of CBT (~$570,500 now to ~$660,000-$880,000 with this CBA). This was also within a structure of the CBT being tied to revenue. This is a huge philosophical issue I am not convinced for which either side is ready (it is part of solution two.) It is easy enough for now just to set the minimum salary as a percent of the CBT for now.
Since writing this Travis Sawchik put out an excellent article on this topic. The minimum salary may need to be more like 0.5% of the CBT ($1.1M.)
Rating 2- Favors some Players but not all.
Younger players win huge with the increase in minimum salary and ratioing it to the CBT. Some older players may see their contracts reduced because more money is going to the minimum players. Some older players may play at the minimum and they would benefit in this case.
Both sides have philosophically agreed this will happen. I am just defining what the number should be.
Solution eight- Implement the DH in the National League.
This seems to have greater consensus than it had even two years ago. Name the major sport that operates games with two different sets of rules depending on who the home team is. It is time to agree on bringing the DH to the NL. I am not really sure why this is actually a CBA issue. In 1973 when the rule was implemented for the AL, it wasn't in a CBA.
Rating 2- Favors some Players but not all
Older players limited defensively are the winners here with potentially 15 new generally higher paying jobs available. Younger players or pitchers in the National League displaced by this new group of DHs would be the losers here.
Overall, both sides seem to want this. Owners should not want pitchers being exposed to potential injuries due to them doing unfamiliar activities. Older players that lead the union should want this.
These five issues are the easy items for these two sides to agree to. If they can't agree on these items, get ready for a long hard summer without the MLB.
We will cover the harder issues next time.
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