Top issues as MLB looks to negotiate new CBA

Top issues as MLB looks to negotiate new CBA

NEW YORK -- Negotiators for baseball players and owners are meeting this week in Irving, Texas, in an attempt to reach agreement on a collective bargaining agreement to replace the five-year contract that expires Thursday. After eight work stoppages from 1972-95, baseball has had 21 years of labor peace.

Some of the issues in negotiations:


Compensation for the loss of free agents has been an issue since the free-agent era began in 1976. The statistical ranking system established in the 1981 strike settlement was scrapped in the current agreement that began with the 2012-13 offseason and replaced by qualifying offers: A team would be entitled to draft-pick compensation if a player left as a free agent after failing to accept a one-year contract for the average salary among the 125 highest-paid players ($17.2 million this year) and the signing club would lose a top pick. Five of 64 free agents who received qualifying offers accepted during the current agreement, and some less-than-premier free agents who received offers said their market was limited by teams not wanting to give up draft selections.


Commissioner Rob Manfred has said restraints on contracts for international amateur players have not been as effective as management had hoped, and he is a proponent of an international draft that would cover residents outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The union has been resistant.


Teams spent $234 million in the 2011 draft on amateurs residing in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The total dropped to $209 million in the first year of restraints, went up to $220 million the following year, then rose to $224 million in 2014, $249 million in 2015 and $268 million this year. The sides are negotiating the slot figures used to determine signing bonus pools and the penalties for exceeding pools. Some have expressed concern that the slot values early in the first round encourage a team not headed to the postseason to tank in the final weeks to get higher draft picks and a larger signing bonus pool.


One of the last items in the negotiations will be the luxury tax. The threshold for the tax has been $189 million for the past three years, and for the past four years, the rate has been 17.5 percent for the first time over the threshold, increasing to 30 percent for the second time in a row, 40 percent for the third and 50 percent for the fourth or subsequent. An increase to $200 million or more is likely, which should lead to greater spending by high-revenue teams currently at or above the threshold. The union and some teams would like the rate to reset for all teams in 2017.


The sides have discussed an increase from 25 active to 26 from opening day through Aug. 31. In an effort to keep late-season rules closer to the ones used for most of the season, the active limit would decrease from 40 to 28 or 29 from Sept. 1 through the end of regular season.


Management proposed changes that would make rules stricter in both the joint drug agreement of 2014 and the domestic violence agreement of 2015.


Concerned about players getting run down, the sides discussed a possible extension of the season from 183 days to 187 days. That appears unlikely, but there probably will be more restrictions on the scheduling of night games on getaway days.


Management would like to have pitch clocks, which have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons, and restrictions on trips to the mound. Players generally have resisted any changes to the natural flow of the game.


Expect a rise in the minimum salary, which was $507,500 in the major leagues last season and $82,700 for a minor league player on a 40-man big league roster for at least a second season and $41,400 for a first.


The sides have discussed changes to the revenue-sharing rules, which included a market disqualification test that prevented both teams from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago from receiving any revenue-sharing money in 2016, along with Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Texas, Toronto and Washington.


Under the current agreement, the top 22 percent of players by service time of those with two or more years of major league service and less than three are eligible for arbitration, along with players with at least three years but less than six. Change in eligibility has not gotten much attention.


Management has discussed a ban on the use of smokeless tobacco during games. The union has resisted, maintaining that using smokeless tobacco is legal and a matter of individual choice, but in the 2012-16 agreement the union did agree that players may not carry tobacco packages and tins in their back pockets when fans are permitted in the ballpark, and players may not use tobacco during pregame or postgame interviews, and at team functions.

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency


Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

Despite playing 11 years of Major League Baseball, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria has never gone through free agency. He signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and then a 10-year extension with the club in 2012.

But with what he's witnessing this offseason, it's safe to say he isn't looking forward to the day he has to partake in the process.

Longoria took to Instagram to share his displeasure, writing the following: 

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

What Longoria is arguing is a lot of common sense that baseball fans need to understand.

Let's look at the following point: "As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team." 

He's not wrong. 

The money either goes to players, making them millionaires, or owners, making them billionaires. Who are we watching on the field? It's quite simple. 

Sure, it might be fun to play armchair GM, but fans should want the best and most entertaining product on the field. We can understand why teams rebuild, but that doesn't mean we have to get to this point as fans. Every team can afford a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado.

The best game is the most competitive game, and that's what players want. Fans should be nodding their head in agreement. 

What's most interesting from Longoria is the fact that he's calling out the system and calling for players to fight back. The MLB collective bargaining agreement ends at the end of the 2021 season. If anger increases from players, negotiations could get quite awkward. 

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Giants top prospect Joey Bart is known for his bat. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit 13 home runs in his first 51 minor league games, which is just three behind Evan Longoria's team lead on the big-league club. 

Don't forget about his defense, though.

Bart, the top catching prospect in baseball, also has been named the Giants' top defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline of He has markedly improved since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

The fact that scouts once questioned Bart's future at the position and now his defense is being praised, as it pertains to the Giants' farm system, says a lot. On the 20/80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline rates Bart's defense as a 55 and his arm as a 60. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He also called pitches, a task that manager Danny Hall didn't even let two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters do when he was a Yellow Jacket. 

In his final college season, Bart had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12 of 21 stolen base attempts. After joining the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season Class A), Bart's fielding percentage dropped to .983 after he allowed six passed balls and five errors. He did, however, gun down 15 of the 21 runners trying to swipe a bag on him.

Bart's bat most likely always will be ahead of his glove. The fact that he's seen as such a well-rounded prospect, though, is an added bonus to the player the Giants hope can lead them back to the top in the near future.