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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Contract Extension Fever Isn’t Just About Economics | FanGraphs Baseball

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. The MLBPA needs to greatly raise minimum salaries. They should also push for added money for players based on playing time.

The table is sortable, so you can play around with it as you would like, but I’ll admit that I find it difficult to draw any general conclusions by examining each deal in its particulars. It does seem to be true, broadly speaking, that the deals involving several free agent seasons have been signed mostly by established players (Trout, Arenado,  Hicks, Bogaerts, and Goldschmidt) while those deals locking in cost certainty for years already under team control are mostly the province of younger, less-experienced players (Bote, Jiménez, Acuña, Albies, etc.). The young stars who already got paid during the draft, meanwhile (think Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa) are nowhere to be found. They don’t need what’s being sold right now.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 17, 2019 at 08:17 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: economics, mlbpa

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 17, 2019 at 09:25 AM (#5832786)
The MLBPA needs to greatly raise minimum salaries.


I think a step gets missed here: I don't think the union has cared about the minimum salary. It has acted as if union members are in a zero-sum game, and the union has chosen the side of the established players against young and fringy players. Maybe recent offseasons have convinced them that that choice was short-sighted, but that won't be known until the next negotiation.

I don't know what would constitute a drastic increase in the minimum. I doubt that doubling it would have much impact on current trends. If a club has decided there's not much to choose between a veteran who wants $9 million for three years and some kid, the kid is still heavily favored at $1 million per year.
   2. BrianBrianson Posted: April 17, 2019 at 09:40 AM (#5832789)
The minimum salary has gone from $300k in 2003 to $555k today. Somebody cares about it.
   3. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 09:45 AM (#5832791)
Anyone got an answer yet for why we should care about this?

For people who really do "care," the ultimate problem isn't the minimum salary or any such thing -- it's the exclusive negotiating rights the teams have. And those exclusive negotiating rights go back to -- in most, but not all, cases -- to the draft. Are the concerned willing to advocate doing away with the draft? I'd be fine with it. Until they are, their concern is even more dubious.

All these players should simply be free agents at all times, like 99.9% of American workers are. The teams should be able to collude on basic things like requiring a contract to cover a full season, but other than that, it should just be a free market. OK, maybe there won't be competitive balance (or maybe there will be), but why should something as frivolous as competitive balance be allowed to trample over the labor freedoms of players? It certainly doesn't in Europe. If a free marketplace can't work in all 30 current cities, so be it. Why should a guy have to work against his will in Kansas City or Tampa or, even worse, the smaller-burgh satellite offices of Tampa or Kansas City for 8 or 9 years of his relative youth?
   4. JJ1986 Posted: April 17, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5832806)
The minimum salary has gone from $300k in 2003 to $555k today. Somebody cares about it.
Almost all of that change was awhile ago. It's barely gone up since 2012.
   5. BrianBrianson Posted: April 17, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5832809)
That's a very selective endpoint, since there was a very large jump from 2011-2012.
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 17, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5832810)
If the union doesn't care about the minimum, they're bigger fools than I realized.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 17, 2019 at 11:30 AM (#5832826)

For people who really do "care," the ultimate problem isn't the minimum salary or any such thing -- it's the exclusive negotiating rights the teams have. And those exclusive negotiating rights go back to -- in most, but not all, cases -- to the draft. Are the concerned willing to advocate doing away with the draft? I'd be fine with it. Until they are, their concern is even more dubious.

There's no real reason that you couldn't do away with the draft and have more robust revenue sharing if you wanted more competitive balance. But the years of team control are an issue for international free agents as well, so I don't think that the draft is really the culprit.

There's also no reason that you couldn't keep the same number of years of team control, but make players eligible for arbitration earlier, and have arbitration awards tied more closely to comparable free agent salaries. I'm not sure how the current awards are determined, but it seems like it's artificially suppressed based on the player's years of experience. That doesn't need to be the case, and if it wasn't, players would be more fairly compensated during the years of team control, even if they still didn't have a choice about where to work.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: April 17, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5832828)
That doesn't need to be the case, and if it wasn't, players would be more fairly compensated during the years of team control, even if they still didn't have a choice about where to work.
And more players would end up with a choice about where to play.
   9. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5832840)
There's no real reason that you couldn't do away with the draft and have more robust revenue sharing if you wanted more competitive balance. But the years of team control are an issue for international free agents as well, so I don't think that the draft is really the culprit.


Not to mention there is no constituency for the abolishment of the draft. Not just the owners, but the union would never go for it.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 17, 2019 at 12:30 PM (#5832849)

Anyone got an answer yet for why we should care about this?


If athletes like Kyler Murray are bypassing baseball for the NFL, in part because the pay day for baseball is delayed so much, than that makes for a less exciting, less talented game.
   11. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 01:42 PM (#5832879)
If athletes like Kyler Murray are bypassing baseball for the NFL, in part because the pay day for baseball is delayed so much, than that makes for a less exciting, less talented game.


That could be a reason, but is it empirically true? A football player's wages are essentially set by fiat until he's roughly 25-26. The value of a scholarship until 20-22, depending on college entry age; and then set for (I think) four years based on draft slot until free agency. And then free agency is less free because of the franchising ability. Baseball players get paid way earlier than 20-22 and in football, there's no chance for an Albies contract at 21, much less an Acuna Jr. Football players aren't getting 7-figure paid at 16 like baseball players not subject to the draft are.

And that doesn't even get into the much better guarantees against injury built into baseball contracts as opposed to football.

   12. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 01:53 PM (#5832882)
It's definitely true in the case of Kyler Murray. He will be the #1 pick. Last year's #1 pick signed a 4 year deal for $33 mil guaranteed. Murray got a what, $7.5 mil bonus from the A's. Figure best case for him in MLB is 1 year in the minors making almost nothing, and 3 years in the majors making less than $2 mil total.

edit: Apparently it was $4.66 mi bonus from the A's. So, less than $7 mil in baseball as a best case vs ~$33 mil for football.
   13. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5832885)
There's no real reason that you couldn't do away with the draft and have more robust revenue sharing if you wanted more competitive balance.


You certainly could do it that way, but I wouldn't favor it because it would still de facto wind up steering players to places they might not want to go. Just as if Sherman & Stearling had to share revenue with a couple firms in Salt Lake City or Oklahoma City. Plus, now Shearman & Stearling has less money to pay me if I want to go work for them in New York.

Don't get me wrong -- as a fan(boy), I'm all for the draft, competitive balance and all the rest in US sports. As an adult, I realize there's no real way to justify them and they're far too much of an imposition on the players. The adult is the one writing these words.
   14. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5832887)
The reason you can't do away with the draft is that there's no constituency for it. Neither side would want it to go away.
   15. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5832888)
It's definitely true in the case of Kyler Murray. He will be the #1 pick. Last year's #1 pick signed a 4 year deal for $33 mil guaranteed. Murray got a what, $7.5 mil bonus from the A's. Figure best case for him in MLB is 1 year in the minors making almost nothing, and 3 years in the majors making less than $2 mil total.


He's already played football for three years for virtually free, which have to be counted. Also there's nothing limiting him to less than $2 mil total in his first three years.

And his baseball bonus was capped. That's relatively new. Baseball teams used to routinely buy 2-sport stars when bonuses weren't capped.
   16. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5832890)
He's already played football for three years for virtually free, which have to be counted.


If he entered the MLB draft out of high school, he would have played the last three years of baseball virtually for free.
   17. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5832891)
The reason you can't do away with the draft is that there's no constituency for it.


There's no constituency for a lot of ideas that are brought up around here. We're talking principles. (And honestly, I'd have to get a cite for the assertion that the players wouldn't want to get rid of the draft. Where did that one come from? Why wouldn't they? They'd make more money and get to pick where they played.)
   18. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5832892)
If he entered the MLB draft out of high school, he would have played the last three years of baseball virtually for free.


Huh? He would have gotten a big signing bonus, and an even bigger one prior to the union agreeing to the capping and slotting of bonuses. His football earnings from 16-21 are capped at the value of three years' scholarship. Baseball players that age get 7 figure bonuses.

The A's are free to offer him a major league contract right now, no? Or did that get changed in the last CBA round?
   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:08 PM (#5832896)

As for why we should care, I just find this stuff interesting -- the way that markets are structured/regulated, the intended and unintended consequences, and the game theory that can arise from all of that are fascinating to me. I like watching the games for their own sake, but the business side of the game is an added dimension that I like to read and think about. YMMV.
   20. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5832901)
Also there's nothing limiting him to less than $2 mil total in his first three years.


Sure there is. even if he signs a long term contract before playing a single game, he's not going to make much the first 3 years. It will be more than $2 mil, but certainly less than $10 mil

And his baseball bonus was capped. That's relatively new. Baseball teams used to routinely buy 2-sport stars when bonuses weren't capped.


Prior to the cap, the largest bonus ever given out was $15 mil to Steven Strasburg. #9 pick Kyler Murray would not have approached Strasburg money even with no cap.

Absolute best case scenario is that Murray gets a Strasburg like signing bonus, plays one year in the minors and becomes a top 5 prospect and signs an Eloy Jimenez contract before playing a single MLB game, and he makes $24 mil his first 4 years, which is still about $10 mil less than he will get his first 4 years in the NFL.
   21. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:14 PM (#5832903)
As for why we should care, I just find this stuff interesting -- the way that markets are structured/regulated, the intended and unintended consequences, and the game theory that can arise from all of that are fascinating to me. I like watching the games for their own sake, but the business side of the game is an added dimension that I like to read and think about.


Oh, I totally agree with all that. The law of it, the antitrust exemptions and how the businesses get away with dividing territories and fixing prices and otherwise colluding -- yeah definitely. My "why should I care" was limited to any particular players' salary and the division of revenue between the owners and the players, because that's what all these stories are talking about.

I very much care whether businesses are allowed to collude, price fix, etc.
   22. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5832904)
(And honestly, I'd have to get a cite for the assertion that the players wouldn't want to get rid of the draft. Where did that one come from? Why wouldn't they? They'd make more money and get to pick where they played.)


The purpose of the player's union is to serve the needs of current members, not potential future members. The more money that goes to non-member amateurs, the less there is to go to current member free agents. If 17 YO Bryce Harper is free to sell his services to the highest bidder, that is going to hurt the 2009-2010 free agent outfielders.
   23. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:16 PM (#5832905)
#9 pick Kyler Murray would not have approached Strasburg money even with no cap.


Where he's picked had no bearing on bonuses in the pre-slot system. If the A's wanted him badly enough, they could have paid him a $50 million bonus and given him a 10 year, $100 million major league contract the day after they drafted him.

At some point, everything has a price. He'd leave football for baseball at some price point. The issue is that now baseball teams aren't permitted to pay that price point. That's a very recent development.
   24. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:18 PM (#5832906)
The purpose of the player's union is to serve the needs of current members, not potential future members.


Current members are better off with full free agency all the time -- which is exactly what getting rid of the draft is. I'm not talking about getting rid of the draft and then saddling the player with the current limitations after he picks his team and gets his money. I'm talking about getting rid of all exclusive negotiating rights starting with the draft.
   25. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:21 PM (#5832909)
Where he's picked had no bearing on bonuses in the pre-slot system.


yes it does. if he were good enough to get Strasburg type money, he would have been the #1 pick. The #9 pick in 2009 was Jacob Turner. He got $5.5 mil

If the A's wanted him badly enough, they could have paid him a $50 million bonus and given him a 10 year, $100 million major league contract the day after they drafted him.


And now you're arguing what could have happened in fantasyland, which is A) not surprising, and b) not the least bit interesting.
   26. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5832911)
yes it does.


No, it doesn't. First of all, it just literally doesn't in any way. Second of all, guys used to slip in the draft all the time because teams thought they'd want too much money to sign. In Murray's case, he wouldn't get Strasburg money because he's as good as Strasburg; he'd get Strasburg money because he has the negotiating leverage the football option gives him.

And now you're arguing what could have happened in fantasyland, which is A) not surprising, and b) not the least bit interesting.


It happened all the time prior to slotting and bonus pools. Seriously. Look it up. Drew Henson (*) is an example. There are numerous others.

(*) Third round pick, college football star. Six years, $17 mil with the Yankees.(**) Major league contract. March 2001.

(**) His contract with the Yankees calls for a $1 million signing bonus, salaries of $1 million in each of the first two seasons, $2 million in 2003, $2.2 million in 2004, $3.8 million in 2005 and $6 million in 2006.

“He obviously has terrific potential and he's a future superstar, there's no question,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
   27. Karl from NY Posted: April 17, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5832925)
Every CBA enacts a big jump in the minimum when it first takes effect, since there is a substantial proportion of the union's current membership positioned to benefit from it.

Every CBA then has minimal increases in the minimum for each year thereafter. The players that will benefit from that are largely not current MLBPA members. The MLPBA members that are approving each CBA have no reason to want to increase the salaries of their future job competitors.
   28. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5832930)
Every CBA then has minimal increases in the minimum for each year thereafter. The players that will benefit from that are largely not current MLBPA members. The MLPBA members that are approving each CBA have no reason to want to increase the salaries of their future job competitors.


Which is good evidence why the Union would likely be opposed to the elimination of the draft. Eliminating the draft will not help a single current member.
   29. Karl from NY Posted: April 17, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5832932)
Current members are better off with full free agency all the time


They're better off with free agency for THEM. They are not better off with full free agency for the newly incoming competitors seeking to take their jobs.

Owners and current players both have an interest in keeping salaries down for newly incoming players. Newly incoming players are the ones who would want full free agency, but they're not party to negotiating the CBA.

The 6-year clock for free agency isn't a coincidence or arbitrary. It's roughly the median of career length among players that are voting on each CBA, so that's the threshold above which there will be a majority of players seeking FA benefits at the expense of players under it. In sports with a shorter career length (football), the FA clock is shorter because more players will vote for it to be that way.
   30. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5832957)
An example from the airline industry. Shortly after de-regulation all the US airlines were poised for rapid expansion. But as a condition, they demanded that their unions agree to the following deal: Agree to a 2 tired pay scale. All current members as of the signing date of the CBA would be on the A scale, and everyone hired after would be on the much lower B scale. The benefit to the current members would be an immediate pay bump, but more importantly, the rapid expansion would lead to rapid promotion to captain for all the co-pilits and flight engineers. They all agreed to it, even though it would hurt future members. Management realized that with the planned rapid expansion, and upcoming mandatory retirements of current pilots, that before long the B scale members would outnumber the A scale ones and demand an end to the practice. So they were able to get the unions to agree to a provision to prohibit them from bringing it up in future negotiations. It eventually went away, but it took something like 20 years.

Unions will always side with current members even if they know it will hurt future members.
   31. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5832994)
Eliminating the draft will not help a single current member.


Eliminating the draft and all other provisions giving a defined team exclusive negotiating rights -- the actual proposal I'm discussing -- would help every current member. As well as every future member.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:10 PM (#5833008)
Unions will always side with current members even if they know it will hurt future members.
And how has that worked out for them? About as well as their similar utter disregard for the health and sustainability of their industries.
   33. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:15 PM (#5833013)
And how has that worked out for them? About as well as their similar utter disregard for the health and sustainability of their industries.


I'm not arguing it's a good thing. I'm merely noting that it is reality. Maybe they should want to eliminate the draft. But they won't.
   34. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:18 PM (#5833017)
Eliminating the draft and all other provisions giving a defined team exclusive negotiating rights -- the actual proposal I'm discussing -- would help every current member. As well as every future member.


Eliminating "all other provisions giving a defined team exclusive negotiating rights" is the beneficial part of that for current MLBPA members. Giving the same benefits to amateur players would HURT current MLBPA by expanding the pool of players they're competing with for their money.

Owners would almost certainly oppose eliminating "all other provisions giving a defined team exclusive negotating rights". So the MLBPA would have to give something up to get that.

But owners don't want to do away with the draft, so it wouldn't make sense for the MLBPA to offer to do away with the draft as a concession in exchange for all free agency all the time for current MLBPA members.

Hence, there's no plausible negotiation that leads to no draft and all free agency all the time.
   35. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5833020)
Eliminating the draft and all other provisions giving a defined team exclusive negotiating rights -- the actual proposal I'm discussing -- would help every current member. As well as every future member.


But there is no need to eliminate the draft to get those other things. It's not like eliminating the draft would be a necessary give back to get those other things, because management doesn't want it either.

"We want a pay raise, and in exchange, we'll require you to fund paid internships to prospective new employees."
   36. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:28 PM (#5833029)
But there is no need to eliminate the draft to get those other things.


I don't want to eliminate the draft to get anything. I want to eliminate the draft because a bunch of posts and comments asked me to care about the players. So if I'm going to be asked to care about the players -- and I do -- I'm going to care about the players more broadly. You care about them your way. My way is better and more in line with the way other employees are treated. I didn't have to get drafted out of law school and go to Salt Lake City or Butte. (*) Athletes shouldn't either.

You and Kiko are talking negotiation tactics and practical realities and I don't really disagree with any of that. But that was never what I was getting at.

(*) And I didn't have to deal with DC or NYC law firms revenue sharing with Salt Lake so they had less money to pay me. Why would I want them to give money they could pay me to some firm in Salt Lake? If Salt Lake can't afford talent, so be it.
   37. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5833033)
You and Kiko are talking negotiation tactics and practical realities and I don't really disagree with any of that. But that was never what I was getting at.


That's fair.
   38. Karl from NY Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:39 PM (#5833050)
If Salt Lake can't afford talent, so be it.


This is what's different about an entertainment industry. If Salt Lake can't afford talent, nobody's going to pay to watch them lose to NY every time.
   39. Hysterical & Useless Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5833056)
I'm not hugely interested in or knowledgeable about this stuff, but a kind-of thought occurred to me:

We seem to be seeing ownership bypassing more expensive veterans for cheap kids, even where the veteran might still be at least something of an upgrade. So, doesn't it follow that decreasing the potential pay disparity between the newbies and the vets, by making the newbies more expensive, would benefit the vets?
   40. Walt Davis Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:59 PM (#5833083)
MLPBA members that are approving each CBA have no reason to want to increase the salaries of their future job competitors.

Sure they do. They will face those job competitors whether they want to or not and the cheaper those competitors are, the more likely the current member will lose their job. This seems part of what is going on now. To get signed, Adam Jones had to drop his price to $3 M for a single guaranteed year which is partly because he was not good last year but also partly because the teams' other options cost only $550 K. If the other option was to pay some AAA guy, say, $1.5 M then Adam Jones at $5-6 M starts to become much more attractive.

One of the main goals of unions is to restrict entry. But MLBPA can't really restrict entry -- players get old fast, turnover is high. Nobody has to get in line down at the union office hoping Tony Clark will dole out some PAs to them that day. So one form of "restricting entry" becomes "make it more cost prohibitive for teams to dump our current members in favor of younger players." The big piece there is guaranteed contracts -- at least their guys get paid.

Take the airline union example given above except give the airlines full power over hire/fire and an assumption that the cheaper Tier B employees are just as talented as, say, the bottom 1/3 of the Tier A talent. What do you think happens to that 1/3 of Tier A current union members? They're gone ASAP. (Note that the airline example was during a time of industry expansion while the number of MLB roster spots is essentially fixed.)

If MLBPA had negotiated a min salary and a provision that no more than 1/3 of a team's roster can be min salary players (or 1/4 or whatever), then keeping the min as low as possible benefits the current members. But as long as teams have the choice of employing a Tier A co-pilot (4th OF) or a Tier B co-pilot, the MLBPA has agreed to a large financial incentive for the team to choose Tier B, sometimes even when Tier B is the inferior co-pilot, which harms their current members.

(Obviously such a roster restriction would be difficult to design given injuries, etc. Given guaranteed salwries, it could be an opening day roster restriction, then the union members still get paid at least even if cut mid-season. But sure, lots of tweaking would be needed to avoid absurd scenarios like TB signing a bunch of $1 M vets to meet the threshold then cutting them after one day and promiting their real roster ... or TB paying all of their player $556 K and claiming it's therefore not the minimum, etc.)
   41. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 17, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5833104)
MLPBA members that are approving each CBA have no reason to want to increase the salaries of their future job competitors.

Sure they do.


Walt, I don't disagree with what you wrote, but I think you took the statement out of context. The context was that in negotiating a min wage hike, the owners are going to go for only so much, so the union will want it front loaded to ensure current members get the greatest gain. If the owners would go for big gains over several years, the union would still rather go for a bigger gain in year one and smaller ones in subsequent years. Basically, ownership says "We will agree to $x millions more in min wages over the course of the CBA. Structure it the way you want."
   42. TDF, trained monkey Posted: April 17, 2019 at 05:15 PM (#5833109)
The minimum salary has gone from $300k in 2003 to $555k today. Somebody cares about it.
That's just under 4% a year. Meanwhile, revenues have increased at a rate of 6.75% per year - if the minimum had increased at the same rate, it would be $853K (of course, if the average for all players increased by 6.75%, the average would now be $6.75M instead of $4.1M).

By increasing the minimum, it would have a cascade effect throughout the league that would bring players up to where salaries more closely track revenues.

EDITED because MLB revenues were $10.3B last year, not this year
   43. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 17, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5833119)

(*) And I didn't have to deal with DC or NYC law firms revenue sharing with Salt Lake so they had less money to pay me. Why would I want them to give money they could pay me to some firm in Salt Lake? If Salt Lake can't afford talent, so be it.

Right, but there were also more than 2 law firms in NYC. The players might want to have enough revenue sharing that teams like San Diego can compete in the free agency sweepstakes.

I'm honestly not sure what is a better outcome for players today. I think it used to be that having a small number of teams with a ton of money was better for free agents because a few of those teams operated with a win-at-all-costs mentality and it only takes two to create a bidding war. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore, as teams are no longer being run that way, although it's hard to know how they would spend if there were no luxury tax and less revenue sharing.

Ultimately, I think the players should only support revenue sharing / a luxury tax with some sort of mechanism to make sure that money is being spent by the receiving teams. That ship may have sailed, however.
   44. Sunday silence Posted: April 17, 2019 at 05:39 PM (#5833121)
Sure they do. They will face those job competitors whether they want to or not and the cheaper those competitors are, the more likely the current member will lose their job. This seems part of what is going on now.


I dont think this is at all a given; its going to depend on a number of things

Let's assume that ownership as a whole will not spend one penny more on acquiring new talent. Then if rookies can make any more money than what they do today that money will have to come from somewhere and most likely it will come from a veterans paycheck. Its pretty clear at the present time that there are any number of cost controlled players who are great bargains; in fact as a whole the entire cost controlled segment of players is probably being being paid what? $1M per WAR?

Clearly they are under paid and any salary redistribution would go to them and the money has to leave veteran's pockets...

But what if ownership is willing to get into a bidding war for free agent rookies? Maybe, but its hard to know. If Im a veteran making say 10M for a 2 WAR season, and there's a huge pile of guys who previously were being paid $1/WAR I think its more likely IM going to lose money. Do vets today really think that ownership is going to spend even more amounts on them? I dont.

EDIT: to elaborate on that last pt. Lets say both the 10M vet and 1M rookie are both entering the market and are both similar in position and ability. WHere is the dust going to settle when a bidding war is over? At 5.5M for at least one of them? (assuming same market spending by ownership). Or more? my guess is less than because at some pt. well before 5.5M the rookie is going to say "yes."
   45. BrianBrianson Posted: April 17, 2019 at 05:50 PM (#5833127)
We seem to be seeing ownership bypassing more expensive veterans for cheap kids, even where the veteran might still be at least something of an upgrade.


This gets asserted a lot, but it doesn't really look to be true in the way you're implying. Ownership is bypassing vets who might be an upgrade or a downgrade for cheaper kids who may be an upgrade or a downgrade. A kid who might be okay or might be bad isn't worse than a vet who'll definitely be mediocre. Making the kids more expensive might tilt this slightly, but really, it's stats giving you a better idea which kids are liable to be decent, and stats showing you reliable mediocrity isn't worth big bucks.
   46. . Posted: April 17, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5833130)
Another way to make sure pay comports with value is a bit more radical, but has come up in some sports CBA negotiations. Agree on a split of revenues. Give that split to the union. Have the union, via something akin to WAR, pay out the generated WAR value to players at the end of the year. Not literally the end of the year -- there can be advances, escrows, rebates, etc. so players can pay bills and live -- but in the offseason after the WAR has been generated.

As things stand now, salaries are negotiated and correlate at least somewhat to expected WAR with of course the exceptions for pre-arb guys and to a degree even arb guys. In a system where you negotiate in advance based on expectations, you're invariably and unavoidably going to have guys who are "underpaid" and guys who are "overpaid." That's at least theoretically fixable. The fix would also do away with the quasi-seniority system currently in place.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: April 18, 2019 at 09:45 AM (#5833231)
#44 ... I said nothing about a bidding war for rookies. We are talking about increasing minimum salaries. Misrlou is correct that I slightly misunderstood the original point which was about why there are only small increases within a CBA. I'm not sure I buy that either but it's a different point than not caring about the minimum in general.
   48. bobm Posted: April 18, 2019 at 10:12 AM (#5833238)
[11] And that doesn't even get into the much better guarantees against injury built into baseball contracts as opposed to football.

And the fact that playing baseball doesn't typically turn players' brains to mush.
   49. bobm Posted: April 18, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5833246)
Interesting paper, especially "Innings" 7-9:

UC Berkeley Undergraduate Journal: "Caught Stealing: The Major League Baseball Players Association — A Union for the Few at the Expense of the Many" (2016)

Abstract:

With over $3.5 billion to divide between roughly 1,200 players each year, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is described by members and scholars as the most powerful union in the country. When the then-ineffective MLBPA was founded in 1953, private sector unionization was at its zenith. Today, the MLBPA is at the height of its power at a time when private sector unionization has hit a nadir. Considering this, it can be tempting to regard the MLBPA as a formidable outlier that has successfully bucked the trend of deunionization. However, the reality is far less uplifting. To achieve success, the MLBPA has actually repressed low-level workers within the same industry, thereby creating a microcosm of our current era — the New Gilded Age, defined by a growing divide between rich and poor — in professional baseball. This repression has come in the form of restricting minor league player rights and is exemplified by the union’s actions during the 1994-1995 player strike, the rollback of baseball’s antitrust exemption, and changes to the format of the amateur draft. This shift from policies that benefit the largest number of players to ones that favor superstars has resulted in rampant individualism within the baseball world and has perhaps been to the detriment of the union’s well-being. This work illustrates how a large concentration of labor power shared only by a few select workers within an industry can be just as problematic for lower level worker rights as a large concentration of corporate power. [Bold added]


Conclusion:

[...]Despite their decline, traditional labor unions have helped to mitigate some of the effects of the New Gilded Age. By contrast, the MLBPA, in fighting for salary increases and rights victories for its already well-off membership at the expense of the minor leaguers in the industry, has used the realm of organized labor to actually exemplify the trends of the New Gilded Age — whether intentional or not.

This transformation from a traditional union to a union for the few is demonstrated by the labor peace between MLB and the MLBPA. Michael Weiner, who spent over two decades in the MLBPA and served as Executive Director from 2009-2013 said in 2009, “When I started, I think there were substantial factions of people on the management side who begrudged the union or viewed the union clearly as an enemy. At this point, there is a respect or an understanding that the union is a part of the picture and a part of the picture that can be positive.” The “respect or an understanding” of the union on the part of MLB owners doesn’t just represent a begrudging acceptance of the MLBPA. Instead, both the union and ownership have found a way to work together to further their mutual aims, such as keeping overall revenue high and repressing minor league working conditions. It is perhaps not a coincidence that this “greater acceptance” to which Weiner refers has come during a time of remarkable labor peace, of over two decades without a strike or lockout over CBA negotiations. While this positive relationship is certainly advantageous for both the ownership and union, it has led to a tag-team effort against minor league players, with both MLB and the MLBPA incentivized to mitigate the influence of the already struggling average minor leaguers. The transformation of the MLBPA since Miller was at the helm is signified by those who are in power. Don Wollett, who in 2012 was known as “the only person left who’s pushing for a minor-league union” criticized the MLBPA’s transition of power from labor leaders like Marvin Miller to lawyers like Don Fehr, Gene Orza, and Michael Weiner.

[...] With respect to minor leaguers, things sadly do not look like they are going to be changing anytime soon. The barriers to unionization for minor leaguers are steep: The turnover of over 1,000 players in the system per year, the geographic dispersion, and an unwillingness for current minor leaguers to jeopardize their opportunity to live out their dream and play in the majors are all daunting obstacles to overcome. Even Marvin Miller in 2012 said that, “The notion that these very young, inexperienced people were going to defy the owners, when they had stars in their eyes about making it to the major leagues — it’s just not going to happen.” While the prospect of unionization for minor leaguers remains dim, the MLBPA has provided a template for other unions to follow in their respective industries; the union that has stayed viable is the one that has concentrated power for an ultra-elite group.

There’s evidence that unions might be starting to follow the MLBPA’s lead. Some unions, faced with limited bargaining power, are acquiescing to a two-tiered wage system, which provides a substantially lower salary for new hires than it does for older union members. Despite the fact that this violates the basic union tenet of equal pay for equal work, unions like the United Auto Workers begrudgingly accepted the demands of a two-tiered wage system during the period of uncertainty around the auto industry in 2007-2008. Since then, two-tier wages have been a “cornerstone” of the auto-industry, pitting longtime employees against new hires.

All of this shares a striking resemblance to how the MLBPA treats minor leaguers and those on the lower end of the pay scale.
Altogether, it is unsurprising that the MLBPA would suppress minor leaguers, as there is a financial incentive to do so. The surprising part is that the MLBPA is still regarded as a union — just like the United Steelworkers or the Service Employees International Union — helping to contribute to the innocence associated with baseball in movies like Field of Dreams. While it remains to be seen if the MLBPA represents a blueprint for “other” unions to follow, it is clear that the MLBPA requires a different classification of unionism — one that recognizes that it imperils the interests of the many for the benefit of the few [Bold added]
   50. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 18, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5833250)
Some unions, faced with limited bargaining power, are acquiescing to a two-tiered wage system, which provides a substantially lower salary for new hires than it does for older union members.


See #30.
   51. . Posted: April 18, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5833268)
The fact that MLB and current MLB labor were/are able to conspire to continue to shaft future labor -- even talented future labor in high-demand -- is intolerable.

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