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Will we have MLB to start 2017?

April 25, 2016

I think so–but only because nobody’s openly talking strike. That said, let’s look at what could put things on hold as next year’s CBA has yet to be done.

From the owners’ side, nothing.  Business is great.

From the players’ side, to start, you’ve got two pissed off subgroups:

–Qualifying Offer Eligible Free Agents, who think that the system that ties them to draft pick compensation depresses their value

–Young studs who don’t want to do three years at the MLB minimum and three or four more in arbitration, which depresses their value

Now whether or not these subgroups can control the union to get their priorities high enough on the list remains to be seen. Would the rest of the union strike for them, well that remains to be seen too.

Next, more generally, the players are only getting about 40% of baseball revenue in salaries. That’s much lower than other major sports leagues. What it “should” be (50%, like NBA? Less? More?), and how you calculate it, are interesting questions. We find it unusual that the league with the weakest salary cap provision of a soft luxury tax, MLB, is actually paying its players the least as a percentage. MLB salaries have risen, but cable rights fees have risen much more quickly. Unless you’re the Jays or the Sawx and your holding company is selling itself the rights dirt cheap, that is. Heh.

Last, and here’s a weird one, the players and their agents are starting to think the owners are colluding again. Long story here:

Dexter Fowler, Casey Close, Collusion and the Value of Information

Here’s the short version: The owners were busted for collusion in ’87 because they were keeping a collective Information Bank of every offer to every player. Now, they’re using the media to do it for them by leaking offers to writers who instantly tweet “scoops”. The players saw this happening a few years ago and had language inserted in the 2012 agreement to try to stop it, but it hasn’t stopped. The MLB team I did work for last summer had not one but two Twitter interns. One did the usual stuff: tweeting original stuff and interacting with fans. The second mostly followed beat writers for other clubs to monitor leaks, decoy leaks, and stranger things.

There should be baseball next year. But the chances are no better than 80%.

 

 

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