Sunday, February 13, 2022

Pessimism is the New Optimism...


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Progress yet to be seen…

Despite hope for elevation in talks between the MLB Owners and MLB Players Association, the brief one-hour meeting on Saturday was just another sign the owners have no intent to compromise with the players. Those supporting the owners may say the players are unreasonable, however, in my humble opinion, the opposite is true. Eventually, the MLB Lockout will end. Eventually. For now, the certainty is the delay of Spring Training and possibly Opening Day if talks cannot escalate to meaningful and productive discussions with greater frequency.

It seems to me that the owners want the players to feel the pain of losing money so that they cave into the owners’ demands. Greed is alive and well in 2022.

Despite the 130-page offer presented to the Players Association, union lawyers were underwhelmed by the latest proposals. Although the lawyers will discuss the offer to the MBLPA’s executive board, there is not much optimism that the latest proposals will kickstart and accelerate negotiations.

Saturday was only the fifth time the two sides have met since the Lockout began on December 2nd. There appears no chance the pitchers and catchers will report next week, nor will the Spring Training games begin on February 26th as originally scheduled.

Highlights of the latest offer by the MLB Owners included:

  • Elimination of the penalty (third-round amateur draft pick) for exceeding the luxury tax threshold.
  • Increase the luxury tax threshold: 2022 & 2023: $214 million; 2024: $216 million; 2025: $218,000 million; and 2026: $222 million.
  • Raise the minimum salary from $570,500 to $630,000; or an alternative tier of $615,000 for initial major league players, $650,000 for players with one-year of service, and $725,000 for players with two years of service.
  • Increase the pre-arbitration bonus pool from $10 million to $15 million.
  • Limit of five optional assignments of a player to the minor leagues each season.

The current annual inflation rate for the 12 months ending in January 2022 was 7.48%. The proposed levels for the luxury tax threshold fail to keep pace with current inflation. Based on the current luxury tax threshold of $210 million, the minimum ceiling should be no less than $225 million. With the players seeking approximately $245-$260 million, the owners and players have a long way to go to find a mutually acceptable threshold.

The pre-arbitration bonus pool proposal remains $85 million below the union’s most recent request.

I have not given much thought to optional assignments, but I was surprised to hear that Yankees reliever Albert Abreu was optioned to Triple A something like fourteen times last season. That is crazy. I know teams have gotten better at roster manipulation through players with options (particularly when trying to keep relievers fresh), and agree there should be a cap. The owners’ proposal for a maximum of five optional assignments makes sense to me and seems fair, but it is hardly an issue that moves the needle toward full agreement on all core economic issues.

Like many of you, I am disappointed. Baseball is my favorite spectator sport. I like football but not nearly as much as baseball. I have probably paid more attention to football this year for no other reason than the absence of baseball. I have interest in basketball and hockey but certainly not to the same degree as baseball or football. Baseball historically is such a release from the grinds of daily life. We ride the ebbs and flows of every season with our favorite team. We legitimately care about the players for our team, those fortunate enough to wear the famed Pinstripes (well, apparently, for everybody except Gary Sanchez¹, that is…). The MLB Owners are depriving us of a great sport because they are unwilling to compromise and unable to act with any urgency.

George Steinbrenner / Photo Credit: Getty Images

I remain hopeful for a 162-game season, but time is running out. I will never forgive the MLB Owners if the season is lost. Regardless of what the future holds, I am done with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. #FireManfred

Clown Rob Manfred

As always, Go Yankees! We miss you…

¹Editor’s Note: For the record, I do care about Gary Sanchez.

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