MLB
Combined file photo shows Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred (L) in Phoenix, Arizona, on Feb. 21, 2017, and Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association, in Bradenton, Florida, on Feb. 27, 2018. The two sides continue to work on an agreement for a coronavirus-delayed 2020 season. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

The MLB Could Have a Major Problem on Their Hands this Offseason

I will admit, this may be up there with some of the craziest takes I have ever had, but this is one of the only outlandish opinions I feel has a likely chance of occurring. With the current Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) set to expire after this current season, the MLB Players Association(MLBPA) and Major League Baseball/the owners are in for an extremely tough negotiation. I believe that this will result in the biggest strike in MLB history. This is why.

Let Me Set the Stage

Any person that followed the whole debacle regarding the playing of the 2020 season should understand that the owners and the players do not get along at all. In short, the league had to implement a 60-game season after both sides failed to agree on anything. Thus, the MLB was the only major American sports league to play less than half of its normal season.

To make matters worse, the MLB has the worst commissioner in all of sports, Rob Manfred. The players do not respect him, especially after he mishandled the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Evidently, the owners have no issues with him (not surprising considering how much money they have made lately), but player salaries have somehow decreased every year since 2017.

On top of all of this, both sides are expected to consider multiple rule changes related to the speed of games and the length of the playoffs. Baseball is one of the hardest sports to toy with considering how old it is and how little the game has changed over time. It is America’s pastime for a reason.

With so much at stake, it is necessary to look at what exactly the MLB and the Players Association want to be included in this CBA.

Major League Baseball

The league and its owners are expected to seek extended playoffs consisting of 10 teams instead of eight. This was a change that they tried to include in 2020, but the idea was shut down by the players. The owners are also in favor of a few rule changes, but they are not looking to change much about the current CBA beyond that. The players, on the other hand, are seeking massive systemic changes.

MLBPA

The players are clearly fed up, specifically with how the money is distributed in the league. With salaries going down but revenue going up, their argument is reasonable. The players also want young players to have more say in their salaries. In the current system, it takes six years for any player to be eligible for free agency. Add in service-time manipulation, and the system is even more flawed.

For example, even though Aaron Judge was called up in 2016, he is a free agent after 2022. That is seven years instead of six. Why is that, you may ask? Service-time manipulation requires players to be on the active roster at least 172 days out of the 187 day season to gain a year of full service. So, if you are on the active roster but are then called down before you get to 172 days, your team has control over you for another full year. This allows teams significant power over their prospects and younger players.

Another debate that the players will want to have is the issue of sticky stuff. Although the MLB has already made a decision on this mid-season, the situation has become a lot more complicated. The MLBPA consists of both pitchers and position players, each of who have their own agendas. If they cannot find an internal compromise as to what should be legal in terms of gripping the baseball, there could be three sides to this argument. The decision to not wait until the end of the season to make a change by Manfred definitely left a bad taste in the mouths of the pitchers.

Will They Find Common Ground?

The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not they will be able to find a compromise that works for both sides. They were not able to in 2020, so no one should be surprised if they fail again in 2021. The owners are at greater risk than the players – if the players feel that they are not getting enough, the season will not happen. It comes down to that.

Major League Baseball is in a really “sticky” situation right now. These upcoming negotiations will be crucial not only to next season but the future of baseball as well. If the owners want to boost public perception of the league the first step would be to find a quick compromise, but I doubt that will end up being the case.

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