Talks of CBA is Heating Up; Could Resolved Before The Winter Meetings Begin

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Updated: November 28, 2016

So the 2016 campaign is officially closed, via Michael Nelson Trout picking up two awards in the latter half of this week, including his second Most Valuable Player award in the last three seasons.

No doubt that the Angels will be in full strength come spring training, now less than 100 days away, but that could change w/ the Collector’s Bargaining Agreement set to expire on December 1, so don’t be surprise is discussions and offers could go under the wire. According to multiple sources, which includes the New York Post, some significant issues are [so far] unresolved; it does not mean that all hope is lost. After all, the CBA has been peaceful since the epic anti-climatic conclusion of the 1994 season that resulted in the following:

The Texas Rangers won the West w/ a 52-62 record; had it not been for the strike and had the Rangers won 28 out the final 50, they would have been the first team to clinch the postseason with a losing record… should the Angels, the Mariners, and the Athletics continue to play poorly.
The New York Yankees won the American League via their record of 70-43.
The late-Tony Gwynn was batting .394 and had the potential to have a .400 season, which was not accomplished since Ted Williams did it in 1941.
The “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas [CWS] and Jeff Bagwell [HOU] won MVP honors.
The Montreal Expos had their best season in the franchise’s 25th year w/ a 74-40 record… only to have their hopes dash; their long-term impact would soon doom the franchise — despite their best performances in 1996, 2002, and 2003 — when the franchise moved to Washington to become the “Nationals”.

That was then; this is now, and this is also Rob Manfred’s first time to have CBA talks as Commissioner of MLB, but not his first rodeo. Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem succeeded Manfred in the same position and is now going to play the role as “chief negotiator”; meanwhile, on the Players’ Association’s side, former baseball player Tony Clark is going to have his first rodeo as the “Top Union Person”, as he succeeded the now-late Michael Weiner, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2013.

The issues that the P.A. and MLB are dealing during this Hot Stove Offseason during the talks of the CBA includes:

  • Expanding the roster to 26, as brought up by Commissioner Manfred. Since the Dodgers had a record amount of players in the Disabled List, it would make sense to add at least one more player to alleviate any pressure for the team; it can also bring rookies to have their chance to shine. Yes, it does mean thirty more salaries, but the benefits can and will outweigh its risk.
    – In my personal opinion, the roster should expand to 27, where any team can have one batter/fielder and one pitcher in order to not have more pressure of making a decision as to whether the manager should decide on one extra arm or one extra batter/fielder.

 

  • International Draft – where both sides are in an absolute disagreement with each other. While the MLB wants it for cost containment, the P.A. strongly opposes due to fear that their members may not get the earnings they deserve. Here’s where it gets a bit more dicey: Amateur International Free Agents aren’t members of the MLBPA and usually don’t have a ton of rights to have their say. Rather, they have to work hard through the minors before making it to the big leagues and to become members of the union, and the PA have no issue to sell their rights during their CBA talks. If this idea were to throw away, it will bring it up in the next time there’s a CBA talk; however, it is a matter of time before the Int’l Draft could be part of MLB.

 

  • The luxury tax — the specifics have yet to be revealed, and with the situation the Angels are dealing w/, the chance of getting a powerful free agent to help the team out is slim.

 

  • Draft-pick compensation: A major CBA item that needs to be resolved, with $17,200,000 goes to ten free agents. These agents include Edwin Encarción [TOR], Justin Turner [LA], newly-World Series Champion Dexter Fowler [CHC], and Mark Trumbo [BAL] — regardless of their offers from their respected ballclubs, these free agent players who are able to get the Qualifying Offer have until Monday the 21st at 2pm PST to either accept or reject it. Those who reject the qualifying offer will be tied to draft-pick compensation, meaning if they sign with a new team, that team has to forfeit its highest unprotected draft pick. The player’s former team will gain a supplemental first rounder.

 

  • Revenue Sharing: Since 1996, some of the revenue has been shared to a certain extent to have all 30 players stay afloat, but its practice was not permanent until 2002. To promote competitive balance, MLB takes money from some of the wealthiest teams and gives it to the poorest teams, regarding of their records. The Yankees and the Angels are some of the wealthiest teams in baseball, according to Forbes; yet, they did not clinch a playoff spot in 2016. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays and the Indians are in the lower 10 in the Forbes’ list; yet, they went deep to the League Championship Series and the World Series respectively. Meanwhile, the Marlins and Athletics in particular have come under scrutiny for what teams that pay into revenue sharing perceive as inadequate spending.

 

  • Reducing 5%: Fans, players, officials, and sports reporters have either begged or talked about reducing the number of games back to 154, as it was the same amount of games to be played in one season prior to the Expansion Era, that began in 1961. This idea picked up steam in recent months, and is now part of the discussion. Here’s where the idea has it’s major flaws, according to Commissioner Manfred who told Richard Justice of MLB:

“Players have asked about 154. I think 154 is a topic that is complicated. It has big competitive and economic ramifications. Having said that, I think in the 20-something years I’ve worked in the game, there’s more conversation about it than there has been in a long time.”

Currently, players have to play 162 games in 183 days, and only 21 off-days will be reserved, w/ many of them tied up in traveling to play on the road or to return back from a road trip. Manfred told the Associated Press:

“One hundred and sixty-two games in 183 days, and a lot of those 21 days consumed by travel, is a pretty demanding schedule. By reputation I work pretty hard, and I don’t think I work 162 days out of 183. It’s a tough schedule.”

The eight game reduction also means a 5% pay cut for the players, regarding their salaries, and a reduction in television revenue and airing time. No doubt that this idea will be laid to rest… for now.

  • Finally, Pace-Of-Play: The Arizona Fall League installed the clock in the 2014 Fall Season to make sure that in between pitches and the batter being ready to swing. This idea does have it’s share of opposed parties, but the benefits outweigh the risk. In 2013, the average game of length in the AFL was 2:52; the following year, the game time was cut by 10 minutes. Also, the time was cut by 13 minutes by the average time based on plate appearances. Meanwhile, in the majors, average time of game was shaved by 6 minutes in 2015, but the idea was short lived in 2016. In the Postseason, however, that was out the window as the game lasted an hour more than in the regular season. One team in particular is probably more likely to blame: the Los Angeles Dodgers. Quite put it: the Dodgers are taking their sweet time in their 11 games that they’ve played, averaging over 4 hours against the Nationals in the Divisional Series and nearly 4 hours against the Cubs in the League Championship Series — of course, when Kershaw pitched in two games, the game averaged a bit more than 3 hours during games 2 and 6. Though this isn’t a huge deal in the CBA, the pace-of-play is a situation that needs to be resolved in today’s times, where our attention span is no more than 8 seconds… and falling.

Expect the CBA deal to be resolved within the eleventh hour before it sets to expire before the Winter Meetings set to begin, as all eyes are on the National Harbor, Maryland’s Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. After all, many of us had no idea what was like in 1994… or were too young to remember the 8th work stoppage in Major League Baseball history that resulted in the first cancellation of the postseason and World Series in 90 years.

Oh, speaking in which, there isn’t much discussion on we could have a team in Montréal as either an expansion team or to rob from another city. Of course, should the league expands in Montréal, the debate will come up as to which major North American city could have the right to have the 32nd team in MLB. However, will Montréal get #NosAmours back in time for their fiftieth anniversary of when they first played? Answer: Very Doubtful, but could come back during the 2020s; it’s a matter of when.

Meanwhile, once the CBA is resolved, what does the Angels need in order to enhance their chance to go deep in making the playoffs? We know for one thing: the market looks weak, w/ the exceptions of Chris Sale [CHW], Justin Turner [LA], and José Bautista [TOR], who could be looking for a better offer, should they reject offers from their teams. It’s still is going to be a very interesting off season.

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