The MLB Lockout Monday deadline has arrived and the owners have threatened with missing a month’s worth of games to keep the padlock on the negotiating process. The owners have been defensive throughout the new CBA process and negotiations have recently ground to halt. The key issues of the competitive balance tax, minimum player salary, and “super-two” player arbitration system remain non-starters for the owners. The union retains their bargaining chip of an expanded post-season, but that could be off the table if the owners go through with their threat.
Players will literally be locked out of their team facilities, but the MLBPA operates a full training facility in Arizona that the players can use to stay in baseball shape. If they start missing regular season games, the union can compensate them with 10k every two weeks as well as covering healthcare costs and providing 0% interest loans for other expenses. The union is also willing to support players who find international employment if the lockout continues. Bryce Harper joked about this in his IG story, putting up a picture of himself in a Tokyo Giants uniform.
The Players may want to stick this one out, as most of the owner’s proposed moves are aimed at limiting salaries across the board. Lowering the competitive balance tax threshold essentially lowers the salary cap at a time when the league is making record profits. Its also a bit of a misnomer because the revenue doesn’t go back equally to every team, like in the NBA. The MLB Luxury tax most funds player benefits (healthcare, pension, etc) and the “Industry Growth Fund” (an MLB self-promotion agency); essentially letting owners duck out of paying benefits and expand their brand at the expense of the players’ salaries.
Since 2012, the minimum player salary has gone up 5% while the league’s revenue has jumped 50%. The owners are willing to miss a month of regular baseball over just 100k of salary; the league proposes 615K while the players want 715K. Players depend on their minimums to cover the many who succumb to injury, and have to cover decades of expenses from just a few short years in the league.
Super-Two arbitration would let players profit from their good form more often, instead waiting to become the longest serving 22% of players. This system hurts rookies who get hot and start playing beyond their initial contract, and can waste the best years of a career.
The owners should be thankful that MLB profits have risen so dramatically when many thought the sport was dead. The pandemic breathed new life into the American past time, and now they’re doing everything in their power to prevent the players, the ones who make it the game we love, from getting a piece of the pie.