P2Daily: The MLB Owners and MLBPA Will Resume Talks Today

Major League Baseball owners and the MLBPA are set to meet again today, trying to come to an agreement on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If you missed it from yesterday, Ethan Hullihen has an outstanding breakdown of where the two sides stand on each issue, and overall.

Players Turn Down “Best and Final Offer”, Now What?

The sad thing about this is that all signs point to MLB being willing to lose at least a month of the season. The bulk of their payments come from the postseason, which they’re aiming to expand. The local TV deals would allow for a massive reduction in games without losing any money.

MLB owners don’t really need to play games in April. What we’ve seen so far is the players moving their positions an extreme amount — to the point where they are offering a deal that is favorable to the owners — and the owners holding out because they have no reason right now to accept anything less than their demands.

The owners have decided that it is more profitable to not play games and try to break the player’s union, rather than trying to negotiate in an honest way.

The dishonesty of the owners over the years justifies the players holding out for a better offer. The owners are trying to maintain a Competitive Balance Tax that has acted as a soft salary cap that top spenders have largely adhered to. Meanwhile, there is no such mechanism at the bottom to resemble a salary floor.

Under MLB’s current system, the Pirates spent a little over $50 million in payroll in 2021. That put them last in the league in spending. The Pirates aren’t contenders by any means, and even if they doubled their payroll, they’d still be in the bottom third of the league in spending, likely only getting them to .500 ball at best.

It makes sense for the Pirates to save their money when they aren’t winning. It doesn’t matter if you’re an 81 game winner or a 61 game winner if you don’t make the playoffs. MLB is trying to expand the playoffs enough that 81 game winners can be contenders, but there’s still a long way from the Pirates’ 2021 61-win total to a contender under an expanded playoff system.

It makes more sense for the Pirates to wait and spend the money from 2021 whenever they are contending again. Let’s say you’ve got a budget of $100 million per year, and you’re not contending in the first three seasons. You can spend $50 million in each of those years, and spend $175 million in the final two, getting the same five-year sum.

This is an extreme example, as payrolls don’t jump that rapidly from year-to-year. That said, a long-term budget could be worked to take money from 2020-2022 and use it on future Pirates contenders.

The problem? This requires a lot of trust to be placed in Bob Nutting to spend the appropriate amount. Nutting hasn’t earned that trust, nor has any other MLB owner with their closed book policy, and their relaxed approach toward spending requirements at either end of the payroll spectrum.

The most effective move for the players would be attacking teams like the Pirates and trying to find a way to increase spending at the bottom. If MLB won’t raise the de facto salary cap, then get them to instill a method where small market teams have a required payroll level, funded by all the money that isn’t being spent at the top.

I’m in the camp that thinks a salary cap, salary floor, and revenue sharing would be the best move. That would require a brand new deal to be drafted up at this point, which might not be a bad idea, considering the current one seems to have stalled.

Pirates Prospects Spotlight

Dominican Summer League Results: Pirates vs the NL Central

Daily Links

**Ethan Hullihen: Players Turn Down “Best and Final Offer”, Now What?

**John Dreker: Three Pirates Among Baseball America’s Top Right-Handed Pitching Prospects

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