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Let's play the alphabet game. MLB and MLBPA discuss the CBA.

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Rob Manfred via MLB

Yep, folks, it is time for Baseball to enter CBA contract talks. The last CBA agreement was reached in 2016. Major points at that time were;

*Homefield in World Series play was returned to the team with the best record and not determined by the All-Star game-winner.

*International signing cap of 5-6 million per team.

*Increase in Luxury tax 195 million in 2017 to the current level of 210 million this year.

*New surtaxes for teams exceeding Luxury Tax by 20million+

*Decease in the disabled list from 15 to 10 days.

*Rosters and callup were left alone. This would change in 2019 when the waiver trade period was eliminated, and rosters were increased to 26 with a maximum of 28 after September 1st.

When COVID-19 threatened the 2020 season, the player union and MLB owners had issues agreeing to get the games going. This forced commissioner Rob Manfred to impose a 60 game season along with limiting the Doubleheaders, imposing a universal DH, and imposing the extra-inning rule of starting with a runner at second base. He also set an expanded playoff system. Given the unknown nature of Covid at the time. The commissioner tried to shorten the 2021 season by 8 games and carry over everything from 2020. The union fought the expanded playoff, universal DH, and the 154 game season.

According to reports, Manfred still wants:

*Expanded playoff system with a reduced regular season.

This is purely a revenue move. Expanding the playoffs could increase TV revenue due to expanded coverage depending on its format. The reduced regular season is to accommodate not only games but travel times as well. These missed games would be lost revenue for most teams, but the increased playoff revenue could offset that.

*Universal DH. This has been Manfred's mission since he took office. But, unfortunately, it is angering baseball purists (like myself) and even some players.

The union, on the other hand, wants:

MLBPA Director Tony Clark via Morry Gash- AP

*To address issues surrounding the manipulation of service time.

This has been a contention point for a while now. As part of obtaining free agency, it requires 6 years of service time with a Major League club(s). Currently, players must be on the 26-man roster or injured list for at least 172 days to accrue a full year of service time.

Teams have long used the practice of holding a player in the minors until he cant accrue 172 days, thereby denying him a year's service time. This would delay by one season his eligibility into the free-agent market. This is likely to be a strong stance by the players union as they will seek either a reduction in years of service or what qualifies a year of service.

*Revamping of the revenue sharing with MLB.

This seems like it not just a CBA issue as it is a yearly issue. It seems the union is ALWAYS looking for concessions in the way League money is delved out and how it is used. Teams and players are in limited agreement of more equity in revenue sharing amongst teams. They not only want increased revenue parity, but they seek insurance that the money will be used to improve player salaries. However, small market teams are resistant to being dictated how much of that revenue should use for players on the field. They point to the large and mid-market teams that have invested in better and new facilities and technology to enhance player development. They want to use league money for better competitive balance. This is likely to be the big sticking point in the negotiations.

*Luxury Tax

The Luxury Tax has also been another point of contention since it was instituted in the 1996 CBA.

The intention was to create a soft salary cap. In that agreement, each year, the top five salary teams would pay a 34% fine on each dollar a team spent beyond halfway between the fifth and sixth team salaries. An example would be if the fifth-highest salary team had a payroll of $100 million and the sixth-highest salary team had a payroll of $98 million, the top five teams would pay 34% on each dollar they spent over $99 million. That system was abandoned in 1999

This was renegotiated in 2002, Where instead of putting a level between teams, a threshold was put in place for all teams. With an increasing penalty if they continued to spend over the limit in consecutive years. In addition, the threshold was set to adjust for inflation. The penalty tax rate is; 22.5% the first time, 30% for the second offense, 40% for the third time, and 50% for four times or more. Currently, the threshold is $210 mil. Almost double what it was in 2003 ($117 mil). The taxes collected, $13 million, are used to defray costs to clubs' monetary obligations under the MLB Players Benefits Agreement. Of the remainder, 50% + any accrued interest is directed to fund player compensation under the MLB players benefit agreement. The other 50% is evenly distributed to the teams who did not go over the tax threshold.

Add to that the recent flap about pitchers using foreign substances on baseballs. You could see the three batters limit up for debate—talk of moving the pitchers mound back or increasing the size of the bases. Electronic umpires could also be brought up as well.

Can the league and the Players Association agree before December 1?

We shall have to wait and see.

Thanks for reading

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