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Friday, March 27, 2020

MLB, players union reach deal on service time, salaries and amateur draft

majorflaw Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:15 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2020

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5934126)
Man, if this season gets cancelled, it will mean that the Dodgers traded a quality prospect in Jeter Downs for nothing. First the Red Sox dump Crawford and Beckett’s salaries on the Dodgers, unloading huge deadweight in salaries freeing up space for them to sign the guys to deliver them the 2013 World Series and now they dump what could be the phantom last season of Mookie Betts for good prospects. Sigh.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5934129)
They would still have the opportunity to negotiate an extension with Betts before he hits free agency. That's not worth Downs, but it's not nothing, either.
   3. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:41 PM (#5934131)
The draft part of this agreement is incredibly shitty for amateurs, both foreign and domestic.

It's also extremely short-sighted as far as the quality of the product, but I guess it helps the short-term bottom line a bit, and we know that's all that Manfred cares about.
   4. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:46 PM (#5934133)
The $20k limit for players who don’t get drafted is the real kicker there. Pretty much any decent player who goes undrafted is just going to wait a year.
   5. The Duke Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:49 PM (#5934135)
Well, if Betts blew his ACL in spring training, it would have the same effect. Tough luck
   6. The Duke Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:50 PM (#5934136)
At least the amateurs have the Union looking out for them
   7. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:56 PM (#5934138)
What is the fewest number of regular-season games that could be played in 2020 that would credibly be seen as having a "season"? In 1981, teams played about 103-109 games each.

If you wanted to have a 100-game season, and were OK with, say, two double-headers per week per team, you could have a three-month season from August through October. You'd then probably have to come up with an expanded playoff with shorter series, neutral sites based on who didn't make the playoffs , and use November for baseball playoffs, ending right before Thanksgiving or something.

I think competing against the NFL would be tough, and it is not clear how popular neutral-site playoff games would be. For that matter, it is not at clear how eager most people would be to get on airplanes soon after a long-term quarantine is completed. Actually, it is entirely possible that a month or two after an initial relaxing of a quarantine, there will be flare ups of the virus (this is generally predicted by experts). If and when that happens, sporting events will likely have to shut down or greatly reducing seating capacity.

The more I think about it, the more I think baseball will not have a season in 2020.

Lastly: At this point, the chances of a Hall of Fame Induction Weekend would seem to be very low. If it is cancelled for 2020, I presume the Hall of Fame would incorporate all those inductees who were unable to have their day in the sun in 2020, and invite them to give their speeches and formally accept their induction at the next available Induction Weekend (presumably 2021). Given that nobody on the 2021 ballot has any chance of getting elected in their first year (in fact, barely any new candidates will survive the first ballot!), and Schilling is probably the only returning candidate with a good chance of getting in next year, this wouldn't be a bad year to combine the Induction Weekends.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:10 PM (#5934149)
What is the fewest number of regular-season games that could be played in 2020 that would credibly be seen as having a "season"?
It doesn’t seem likely there will be a normal season, but I believe the public will accept whatever can be done under the current circumstances. 100 games is better than 81, and 81 is better than 60, but you take what you can get. Of course many fans will believe that their team would have done better if only they had played 162, but we can live with that.

Published reports indicate that MLB & the MLBPA don’t want to resume play until fans can be present. They may have to rethink that, as it would seem likely that the ban on mass gatherings could be one of the last restrictions to be lifted.
   9. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:12 PM (#5934150)
The $20k limit for players who don’t get drafted is the real kicker there. Pretty much any decent player who goes undrafted is just going to wait a year.


NDFAs are also supposedly capped at $20K in 2021, and the 2021 draft could be as short as 20 rounds. Not to mention that all current college juniors who go back to school will be senior signs with no leverage next year, and competition will be fierce for college scholarships and roster spots, given that the NCAA may give current seniors another year of eligibility and a greater-than-normal number of current high schoolers will be going to college rather than signing for peanuts.
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:13 PM (#5934151)
Published reports indicate that MLB & the MLBPA don’t want to resume play until fans can be present. They may have to rethink that, as it would seem likely that the ban on mass gatherings could be one of the last restrictions to be lifted.


Yep. Particularly given that TV contracts are satisfied by the playing of games, whether anyone is in the stands or not.
   11. bbmck Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:34 PM (#5934169)
The shortest "legit" season is probably around 60 games. Play 12 games against each team in your division and 12 games against all other teams combined. In the last 20 years there have been 16 teams with 90+ wins not making the playoffs and 29 teams below 90 wins making the playoffs, the only consistent thing has been winning your league/division guarantees you a playoff spot and 48 game round robin should be enough to say that 2 of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays weren't the best AL East team even if the Yankees play the Mets and the Rays play the Marlins. If there are enough concerns about fairness due to the 12 non-division games could always pick division winners based only on the 48 games and wildcards based on the remaining best 60 game records.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:47 PM (#5934175)
The shortest "legit" season is probably around 60 games.


The 1876 NL season was a little over 60 games long (with some team-by-team variance), so that seems plausible.
   13. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:58 PM (#5934183)
What's the rationale for shortening the draft?

But anyways, you'd think that this would be something that the MLBPA would be all about. The fewer new minor leaguers there are, the lower the chance that one of them will turn out to be good and so take a job away from a union member.
   14. Jay Seaver Posted: March 27, 2020 at 04:40 PM (#5934206)
Published reports indicate that MLB & the MLBPA don’t want to resume play until fans can be present. They may have to rethink that, as it would seem likely that the ban on mass gatherings could be one of the last restrictions to be lifted.


On the other hand, there's a non-trivial amount of tight quarters in baseball - dugouts, bullpens, broadcast booths, clubhouses, where the groundskeepers gather, heck, just the small gathering of runner/first baseman/umpire/coach after a single. I suppose that if you're playing to empty stadiums, you can spread people out a bit or have the broadcasters work from a studio (heck, it'll probably look better to have various staff sitting in the seats near the field), but "until fans can be present" is a pretty good proxy for "until we can have a bunch of people sitting next to us" and makes you sound good.

I mean, what's the other choice, not letting players go home to their families at the end of the day, but renting out the floor of a hotel? Practically speaking, one asymptomatic-but-contagious family member can knock the whole thing down.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 27, 2020 at 04:40 PM (#5934207)
What's the rationale for shortening the draft?
Most of the potential draftees haven’t been scouted recently, and teams don’t want to risk paying normal signing bonuses amidst such uncertainty, so shortening the draft and limiting bonuses reduces risks & costs for the owners, and the MLBPA gets other provisions beneficial to their current members, somewhat at the expense of their potential future members. The MLBPA should push for a shorter path to arbitration and free agency for those who didn’t receive normal bonuses, but I’m a bit skeptical that will be a priority and that they will have the leverage to get it.
   16. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: March 27, 2020 at 04:50 PM (#5934218)
I wonder if it would make sense for Betts (and any other top players hitting FA at the end of 2020) to angle for a 1 or 2 year extension, or just accept a QO. My thinking is that MLB is (like a lot of the rest of the world) going to be feeling exceptionally poor around the end of this year, and it's quite possible that teams offering big money deals are going to be scarce for a year or two.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: March 27, 2020 at 05:53 PM (#5934245)
In 1981, teams played about 103-109 games each.

Yes but split in two "halves" such that a team's record over about 50-55 games qualified them for the playoffs. We accepted that under the circumstances so I assume here a 50-60 game season would remain acceptable. Also note that in 1981 there was no attempt to "fix" the schedule so teams played substantially varying number of games in each half ... and that both the Reds and Cards with the best overall records in their divisions got screwed.

It's necessary to have at least two interleague series per week (6-7 or even 8 games) -- assuming they won't go as far as moving a team across leagues temporarily. Call it a 9-week, 60 game season, that's 60 inter-league games so each team has to play 4 of those -- limit these to the "rivalry" games. That leaves 56 -- I'm tempted to make those all within the division which will also minimize the impact on the recovering air travel system. Alternatively, dump the inter-league altogether, each team gets a couple of 2-day breaks along the way (alas, including opening and closing dates) and plays 14-15 against everybody in the division. Possibly do the cockamamie 3-WC thing so each 2nd place team makes it too.
   18. bbmck Posted: March 27, 2020 at 06:19 PM (#5934258)
[16] At the very top of the market it doesn't make sense for Betts, chances are Arte Moreno is 74 years old, still owns the Angels is worth a few billion and doesn't have a World Series title. Even if you assume half of Betts' $600mil contract is a net loss that's $100mil less for each of Nikki, Bryan and Rico and they will still live pretty comfortably once Arte and Carole pass away.

As long as old billionaires own teams, other than poor play Betts faces little risk and Bryce Harper finished his career for the Nats relatively poorly and still signed for a few bucks. JT Realmuto and Marcus Stroman might want to avoid a potentially soft market for free agents prior to the 2022 season.
   19. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 27, 2020 at 07:54 PM (#5934288)
NCAA teams play about 50-60 games per season. So that's about the minimum. Just having a 3 game set against each league opponent is 42 games and you probably want a home and road series against each league opponent, bringing things up to 54 games. Throw in a bit of interleague due to odd number of teams per league and you have 60.
   20. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: March 27, 2020 at 09:05 PM (#5934305)
We had a similar thread about a week ago. It still seems to me that the logistics of a whole new schedule is just too hard and that the teams should just play out the schedule as now defined. Yes, this will screw some teams because their schedule is harder than its competition, but this year that should be a "who bleeping cares, there are far more important things to worry about". If there are no fans allowed, then the logistics are easier, but once fans are allowed in games things get really ugly quickly. I don't get many Cleveland "home" games each year here in Chicago so I would be really pissed if I paid lots of money for tickets to a Cleveland game and it ends up a Marlin game instead.
   21. caspian88 Posted: March 27, 2020 at 10:00 PM (#5934322)
Thinking about the short draft had me thinking about how many guys are going to enter the pros as amateur free agents and how uncommon that is for draft-eligible players in baseball (versus the NHL, where it's quite common). Unfortunately I don't know how to search for it on BBREF.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: March 28, 2020 at 12:28 AM (#5934339)
It still seems to me that the logistics of a whole new schedule is just too hard

But all of the existing logistics are out the window. Who knows what domestic air travel will look like in August, getting from Sea to Tampa might easily be a nightmare. The booked hotels may no longer be in business. The concessions and stadium staff were never hired, I assume the tix staff are laid off -- and you're not going to have trouble finding replacements. Most tix that have already been sold are going to have to be refunded/credited anyway and how many were sold for July-Sept by this point anyway?

If you put together a new schedule you also avoid the 1981 problems of teams having different numbers of games to play, different mixes of H/R, different balances of in/out division/league. And not sticking to the existing schedule gives them flexibility to add games -- although I suppose decreeing that all Sat dates are now DHs would be simple enough. Generating schedules by computer is pretty easy and there will be very few restrictions. TV, teams, players will be so happy to generate some reasonable chunk of revenue that concerns about days off, two teams in town on the same day, I assume all the scheduled concerts have been cancelled, etc. will mean very few restrictions on the scheduling.

It does depend on how many games they get in. If Trump's Easter miracle comes to pass and games start on May 1 then you just stick with the schedule as is. Maybe even if you can start at the mid-point, the 2nd half schedule was probably balanced enough relative to 1st half to do it. If it's more like 60 games, I really favor a travel-minimising scheulde with only the "rivalries" for inter-league.

But mainly it is the logistics that argue for a new schedule -- the plans just don't exist anymore and it would be a substantial risk to assume that the Rays can get to their Aug 21-26 trip to LA and Seattle and make it back for their homestand on the 28th ... and really hard if you'd like to squeeze in a game on the 20th (in NY) and 27th. (Depending again on when things start to get back to normal.)

Grrr ... I forgot we also have an odd number of teams per division. So my idea of (nearly) only intra-division falls apart. Each "day" there needs to be at least one inter-league and 2 inter-division games (or 2/1 or 3/0) which creates some travel burden.
   23. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:34 AM (#5934348)
Most tix that have already been sold are going to have to be refunded/credited anyway and how many were sold for July-Sept by this point anyway?
All the season tickets & partial plans, plus those fans highly interested in seeing a specific opponent or taking part in a particular promotion will have July-September tickets already.
But mainly it is the logistics that argue for a new schedule -- the plans just don't exist anymore and it would be a substantial risk to assume that the Rays can get to their Aug 21-26 trip to LA and Seattle and make it back for their homestand on the 28th
MLB teams fly charter, and it seems likely there will be excess capacity for quite a while as much of the general public avoids regular commercial flights. The logistics are already in place for the current schedule, it’s changing everything on short notice that would be difficult.
   24. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: March 28, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5934412)
I forgot we also have an odd number of teams per division.

Put the Yankees and Red Sox in one division, and the other 28 teams in the other. And you're done. (You also guarantee either New York or Boston makes the World Series.)
   25. Walt Davis Posted: March 28, 2020 at 06:26 PM (#5934562)
The logistics are already in place for the current schedule, it’s changing everything on short notice that would be difficult.

No they aren't. All of those charter airlines are shut down right now and nobody knows which will be back. They certainly aren't guaranteeing to fly the Rays to LA in mid-August. The hotels are all empty and nobody knows which will survive 3-4 months of no revenue. None of the concesions/tix/etc. staff have been hired. The notion that the economy can go from 0 to normal without delay is a pipe dream.
   26. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 28, 2020 at 07:15 PM (#5934583)
I think there is a common assumption that at whatever point the government and health experts give MLB the green light to resume "normal" baseball activities, things will quickly snap into place...but as some of the comments above suggest, there are a s**tload of assumptions that may not be correct. The airline, hotel, and restaurant industries are getting obliterated at an alarming rate right now. The unemployment rate by June may approach 30% nationally. There will be a meaningful percentage of Americans who will be very uncomfortable going to a ball game, or a shopping center, or a subway, or in an airplane, or a political rally, or a movie theatre, etc., for months after the green light is given.

Americans' habits are changing rapidly - indeed, trends that were already accelerating are now at warp speed (like retail going online, or the automation of manufacturing). MLB should be prepared for no 2020 season, but if there is one, it may require not having fans in the stands, or at least, having markedly smaller crowds than pre-2020.

One last thing: If things do get back to "normal" by late summer, the sports schedule this fall will be very, very crowded:

Kentucky Derby, SAT, September 5th
Alabama vs USC in Dallas, September 5th

US Open Tennis, August 24-September 13
French Open, September 20-October 4

Boston Marathon, Monday, September 14th

In golf, they are talking about the British Open in early September, the US Open in late September, the PGA Championship in October, and the Masters in early November.

The NFL season is currently scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 10th.

Baseball, if it is played in 2020, will be competing every weekend against the NFL and some of the sexiest events in sports. And that's not counting presidential debates, every company's annual conference and junket, every kid's postponed birthday party, every high school's junior prom that will now be in the fall of 2020, a ton of weddings and deferred graduation parties...it will be crazy.


   27. puck Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:26 PM (#5934624)
If there's an 80 game season, a larger proportion of the season than usual will be taken up by pitchers' "stretching out" period. But once they get into form...I wonder if we'll see anything slightly weird, like heavy reliever loads since the stress period would be shorter. It seems easier to pitch 40 of 80 games than 81 of 162.

Though I'm probably underestimating the ramp up period and maybe the effect of double headers.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2020 at 09:46 PM (#5934630)
US Open Tennis, August 24-September 13
French Open, September 20-October 4

really?

there always are several clay court tournaments ahead of the French Open, a couple of grass events before Wimbledon, and a longer hardcourt tuneup season before the US Open.

even granting the extraordinary times we are in, I can't fathom top players - many of whom are more specialists on certain surfaces - agreeing to play in both of those events.
   29. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: March 28, 2020 at 10:01 PM (#5934633)
No they aren't. All of those charter airlines are shut down right now and nobody knows which will be back. They certainly aren't guaranteeing to fly the Rays to LA in mid-August.


If the schedule makers have to guess if teams can make road trips when they develop a schedule, then we shouldn't be playing baseball at all.
   30. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 30, 2020 at 09:42 AM (#5934890)
US Open Tennis, August 24-September 13
French Open, September 20-October 4

really?

there always are several clay court tournaments ahead of the French Open, a couple of grass events before Wimbledon, and a longer hardcourt tuneup season before the US Open.

even granting the extraordinary times we are in, I can't fathom top players - many of whom are more specialists on certain surfaces - agreeing to play in both of those events.


I agree that an unintended consequence would be top names skipping major events. Same thing with horse racing, where the Triple Crown races would be very close to together; golf's majors; and especially tennis, because of the different surfaces.

From a viewer's perspective, some of these fall weekends would be like nothing we've ever seen:
NFL starts on Thursday, the 10th
College football all day on the 12th, along with the US Open women's finals
NFL football all day on the 13th, with the men's US Open finals
The Boston Marathon is the next day, along with Monday Night Football.
The British Open might be that weekend, too, as well as one of the legs of the Triple Crown horse races.
Oh, yeah, and some regular-season baseball.
And, like, seven of your kids' friends' birthday parties that got delayed all year, plus your cousin's wedding that got postponed.

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