MLB, MLBPA Announce New Labor Agreement

Today (well… OK, two days ago) in non-news news, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports goes out of his way to make a well-understood point that sometimes gets a little lost in all our fawning over Rogers’ sudden benevolence this winter: if you’re looking for someone to thank for the Jays’ transformation this winter, maybe try looking to MLB commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner.

To wit:

A little-known aspect of the CBA — the market-disqualification program — is helping force a select group of teams to operate more competitively than they did in the past.

The way the program works, revenue-sharing proceeds for teams in the 15 largest markets will decline by set percentages over the next three years, and disappear entirely by 2016.

Teams that previously received such funds — Toronto, Atlanta and Washington, among them — had little incentive to field better clubs. Why bother? By increasing revenues, they lost revenue-sharing dollars.

The new CBA flips that equation.

Teams that are about to lose their revenue-sharing income are more motivated to make money. And teams make money by winning.

No, it’s not that we all didn’t know this, or aren’t still grateful to Rogers for not being the Seattle Mariners about it. And no, there isn’t any real point in skewering them on it at this particular moment, apart from the fact that Rosenthal brought it up. But he’s not wrong. And as much as we may want to look at the decision to spend in the first full winter under the new CBA as a mere coincidence entirely in line with the vision Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos articulated long before anybody knew what the revenue sharing program was ultimately going to look like, it certainly wouldn’t be out of character of Rogers to be thinking less altruistically here and more purely through the prism of their bottom line than maybe we’re comfortable admitting.

I don’t know if I have a point here, except that this is maybe a thing that got a little too lost in our past three months of gum drops and cotton candy, and that we shouldn’t let our guard down when it comes to a deeply cynical ownership group, as we open this new era of Rogers love.

Obviously this is no newsflash or anything, but still… it’s worth giving a few seconds of thought to how it’s awfully, awfully coincidental that they went ahead and green-lighted putting a competitive team on the field in the first year when the old, revenue sharing pool-devouring plan went out the window. And also to how it could actually be possible that, as an architect of the CBA, Bud Selig maybe shouldn’t be quite so reviled– at least not in this town.

Comments (95)

  1. Two quick hits

    1. If anything this is better than Rogers benevolence. I can just imagine how much the Jays must have pissed off some of the other markets by always coming to the league hat in hand like they were the freaking Royals or something.

    2. When did Bud Selig become, by far, the best commissioner in sports? Like, it’s not even close, is it? The worst thing he’s done in a decade is probably making the All Star game ‘count’ (and honestly, who cares), and he’s made one more positive change than the other three leagues combined with the play in game. Long live Bud!

    • Selig he became the best commissioner in sports when he realized it was better business practice to treat the players as partners as opposed to adversaries. NFL, NBA and the NHL owners still don’t seem to get that shared prosperity is good for business.

      • NBA and NHL sure

        But the NFL is the best run league of the 4, hands down, anyone who doesn’t believe that doesn’t follow all 4 sports.

        • Definitely agree, but its in spite of Goodell, not because of.

        • only from a business perspective…from any other perspective including the players, they would probably rank near the bottom.

          • isnt that what this is? A Business?

            Owners aren’t out to keep all 100-150 (less for NBA Obvs) players in an oganization happy, they are in it to make money, plan and simple.

            If i could pick a league to own a team in, NFL, hands down.

            • yes it is a business…but there is only so long you can get away with not listening to your employees, despite the seemingly endless pit of revenue the NFL seems to generate. It is not hard to operate a good business model considering the advantages the NFL has over the other leagues. But the players are getting a little fed up with their lack of ‘rights’ and are also filing lawsuits. People always point to the NFL model, but it really has nothing to do with the model and everything to do with the popularity of the product.

        • A monkey could run the NFL and it would still be a resounding success. It’s the model. 17 week season, games only once a week, and the sport itself, it breeds interest. Lying about knowing the full effects of concussions on player long term health, and locking out their own referees, doesn’t make Goodell a good commissioner.

          • Also the number of convicts and ex-cons that are conitnually allowed to profit makes me sick. Not thats there isnt ex-cons in other sports, but football takes the lead hands-down.

          • was speaking purely from a business eye view on this. And I dont think its a Anyone could do it model or a monkey could run it.

            But from a Business point of view, its the best run.

            And to the interest point……ask the Jags how their season went in terms on butts in the seats.

            The NFL is the best run business, but your right in the fact they do have issues to deal with, but so do the other sports.

            MLB – PEDS
            NHL – constant lock outs and head injuries
            NBA – constant need to relocat teams

            none of theses leagues are perfect, but NFL is best run business period, imo.

          • Go play 3 games of football in a week, then come back about the 1 game per week17 week season. Not a good point imo. The toll on a baseball player per game is like a walk in the park compaired to a football player, hockey comes close, but not really.

            • here is an interesting bit of info on “interest”

              shows the total attendance by sport, guess whos first….not the NFL…..the NFL has more interest over “americas favorite past time” is a Canadian responce (im canadian btw)

              Baseball trumps football attendance by a fuck ton


              • That’s what happens when there are 2420 MLB games in a season vs. 254 for the NFL.

                The average attendance speaks more to your point, and the NFL is tops there. Albeit, they have stadiums that hold a lot more people.

              • I’m sure that has nothing to do with playing 10 times the games.

                • its still 5 times the tickets sold……MLB tickets aren’t that much cheaper then NFL tickets, think its like 40% cheaper on ave, but i dont have those facts off the top of my head.

                  • just did a quick google search, its like 50% cheaper, so MLB gets more rev from tickets sold, 2-3times as much, wtih 2 less teams.

                    It is the more watch sport at the pro lvl. I bet though, on a side note, the NCAA D1 football gets more interest then either of these two.

              • Amazing what playing 10 times as many games can do for the number of people who attend.

              • Are you trolling? I think baseballs number is higher because they have 10X as many games…

            • My point was that that’s a positive thing for the NFL, did you even read my comment? less supply creates more demand.

              • sorry, your point wasn’t clear, my point was business model

                do we all believe apple treats their chinese employees well???

          • Absolutely correct about that insanity with the “replacement” referees. That was a worldwide joke … although now that I think about it, it was also a priceless example of how quality can go down the toillet when you outsource to cheap labor.

            But back to Frank’s excellent point — the NFL used to be a well-run league but it’s not as well-run as it used to be and the ref fiasco is the most obvious example. There’s more, like having crap markets like Jacksonville in while Los Angeles is out, the gradual rule changes that have slowed play and allowed enormous behemoth 350-pounders on the field who would never have been able to keep up under 1960s rules, the timeouts just before every crucial field goal, and oh yeah the concussions.

    • Except for Montreal.

    • IMO, David Stern has always been the worst commissioner in sports.

      To his credit, Selig hasn’t made a really terrible decision in a long time.

      • Gary Bettman would like all the words..

        • Exactly… Gary “3 lockout” Bettman is a jackass and is terrible at his job

          • Stern and Bettman have helped owners make a lot of money, so they have been successful in that regard. Besides, how much of the Bettman-hate stems from moving failing Canadian franchises to the Southern US (where they continued to fail)?

            Technically, Stern has overseen 4 lockouts in his league, though only two resulted in the loss of regular season games (one lasted a few hours and another a few months before the start of the regular season). If I had to choose between Bettman and Stern for who has turned their respective league into a bigger joke, it would probably be Stern. Biased officiating, claims of rigged games, the Tim Donaghy scandal (and resulting accusations), claims of rigged draft lotteries, his controversial dress code rules, vetoing the Chris Paul trade, fining the Spurs for sitting their aging star players for a primetime game, and the list goes on of stupid crap that has happened under Stern’s watchful eye.

    • Selig has been very bad for the game at times, even from a business perspective. Just look at the Cleveland Spiders-style deal he swung to drop Loria in Florida, Henry in Boston, and the Expos to death before they got a stay and ended up in DC (look up the Spiders from the 19th century, it’s really similar). He lets his friend Loria scam Miami and pocket revenue sharing money through a convenient loophole, he props up the Mets for his buddies the Wilpons when they barely have money left (similar situation to the Dodgers, except that Selig wasn’t friends with Frank McCourt), and he lets his fraternity brother Lew Wolff make it seemingly impossible for the Athletics to survive, and they’re damn lucky to have Billy Beane otherwise they would be an even cheaper version of the David Glass era in Kansas City. Not to mention the Rays situation, I don’t think they are owned by his friends though. All of that hurts the game greatly. He’s done a lot of good to grow the game, but there’s a lot that he’s done to hurt it as well.

      But yeah, for all the shit he’s done, and it’s probably more bad than good overall, he is the best of the four commissioners. Not saying much given the field, but it’s still something.

      • I agree with that. But what has he done lately?

        I’d also like everyone to pump the breaks on all of the “Expos were unfairly stolen from Montreal” crap. The league didn’t help them, and the dollar hurt as well, but let’s not forget the root problem: no one fucking went to Expos games.

        When the Florida Panthers leave Florida people will bitch and moan about how the team was never given a chance and the arena was poorly situated, but the bottom line is that the team failed because the fans didn’t go watch it.

        • And the organization failed by putting a consistently crappy product on the ice each year.

          Other than their fluke cup run and fluke Baltimore-like playoff appearance last season.

    • @Ray.

      Agree with your first point. Rogers had the most money of any ownership group & was running a very low cost team for the past 10 years. There was 1 year of 95 million spending in 2008.

      I do think Rogers is aware of extra tv , mobile , internet revenue that comes from a successful team, so that may have also helped them decide to spend more money to make more revenue.

  2. If the equation is such that there’s financial motivation to win, that’s perfect. Personally, I’m thankful that Toronto fans are fickle enough that they don’t come as often if the Jays aren’t winning. Profits are correlated with winning. If we had Cubs fans here, then why would the team even bother trying? Spending money on players is a net negative because the games are sold out anyway.

    • It sounds silly as I type this, but given what we now know about the previous benefits of being in the bottom 15 for revenue, isn’t having less butts in seats what the Jays would have hoped for? There is probably a financial delta in there that would have made it LESS profitable if more fans came out.

      This is an eye-opener for me. I am thankful that this absolute nonsense is eliminated.

    • The leafs on the other hand…..

  3. Good news

  4. I don’t know how coincidental it is. It seems more likely it was the opportunity of the Marlins fire sale that opened things up. The initial plan was to trade for Josh Johnson, which would have only brought up payroll a modest amount. I also believe the loss of revenue sharing idea had been batted around for years. AA had said from the beginning of his tenure that the money would be there when he asked for it. I don’t see how there was a change.

    As for a calling Rogers a “deeply cynical ownership group” where was there ever evidence of that outside of MSM and social media?

    • How many owners in modern day capitalism are not deeply cynical?

      • Owners are practical. That doesn’t always equal cynical.

        • It’s not just owners — it’s people. How much of your income do you give away for the pleasure of others? (Keep in mind charity doesn’t count — baseball viewers/fans are hardly a charitable cause). Why would anyone have expected this is what Rogers was going to do?

          Practical. It’s only cynical if you think giving money away to non-charitable causes is what people do normally, and they don’t.

          • Its crazy and overly skeptical to think Rogers didn’t care about winning. They stand to make way too much money in TV advertising to purposely put out a shitty team year after year. This isn’t the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan whose primary goal is to create returns for their teachers, its a media company that needs content to sell ads and cable subscriptions. What motivation would they have to field a shitty team year after year only to rob themselves of all the extra revenue they stood to make by building a winner?? You think the money they got from revenue sharing is more than they stood to make from doubling TV viewers and selling ad space? You only need to look at the size of TV deals these days to know the answer to that one…

  5. Nothing shocking but a nice, upbeat article on the Jays here:

  6. It’s a content play. Rogers now own 3 sports channels (SN, SN1 and The Score). Sharing MLSE with Bell restricts their ability to lock in the Leafs and the Raptors. Based on some of the rumblings coming out of the organization recently, it looks like the team was committed to spending some serious money this offseason regardless of the Marlins deal.

    My guess is that the ratings and revenue numbers from the first half of last year showed them that a competitive team is more profitable than a losing team, even with a $120 million payroll. It’s not just the ratings for the games, since the team is Rogers property, they have privileged access for news, interviews and other ancillary content.

    I don’t think that revenue sharing had a big impact in making the decision, the economics of the Canadian sports television have changed over the past couple of years and the Jays content has increased in value.

    • Or, as with nearly everything, there is no silver bullet.

      Rather, a confluence of several factors have all combined in a mysterious heterogeneous mix of unclear proportions to give rise to results we can clearly observe.

      In other words: life.

  7. I’m sure these funds would have been part of the calculation. How much were these revebue sharing funds? I doubt they were anywhere near what the increase in payroll was for the Jays though. So while I wouldn’t dispute or begrudge Rogers for having a clear idea of the rules and the market, it wouldn’t explain in totality the changes made to the roster.

  8. I just hope there are enough incentives to keep Rogers spending on the Jays like the big market team they are, especially if this season doesn’t go as well as we all want it too. It can’t be a short term thing like the last time they upped payroll. Winning would help that.

    • Unless they plan on dumping everyone they just traded for, like marlins, which I highly doubt, they’re committed for the next 2-3 years

      • But that wouldn’t be any longer term than last time (2006-2008). The goal here should be to at least maintain this level of financial commitment past the Bautista era, if not increase it over time to a level more appropriate with the market size.

        • If the Jays are good they keep spending, if they flop, they probably retreat somehow. I think it’s that simple b/c wins = growing market = growing revenue = sustainable business model.

        • @Fullmer.

          I would hope that Rogers would realize that the increased revenues from the multi platforms would outweigh the additional payroll costs.

          Let’s say the Jays get to 90 wins but miss the playoffs by 1 game, wouldn’t the increased fan interest through september provide additional revenues?

          The Jays have never been in a August/September pennant race since 2000

    • @ BFF
      It’s not short term.
      The Jays are now being promoted and exploited to produce high rated content across the board and across platforms.. The 40 mil increase in payroll that increased the excitement will produce ten fold back to Rogers.

      • And this didn’t happen in the previous 12 years when Rogers owned the Jays and all these sports channels because…?

        • Jeez, BFF.
          I’ve been explaining this for years.I’ve provided the links. Been ridculed for “not having access to the Jays head offices”.If you look at the goals each year,it’s obvious.
          Just ask why?
          It all makes sense from a business stand point.

        • @ BFF
          When Rogers bought the Jays, they were “bleedin money” due to apathy and a 65 cent dollar.
          Godfrey’s mandate was to decrease expenses and stop the bleeding.He hired JPR who said he could field a competitive team for much less.JPR fired most of the scouts and tried to use the concepts he learned from Billy Beane.
          In the meantime,the CBA at the time,listed the Jays as a small market team thus allowing them to collect 30 mil in revenue sharing.

          Remember that as recently as 2009 not all Jays games were televised due to ratings.
          Rumors about the Yanks and Bosox not being too happy paying 76 and 52 million to subsidize teams like the Jays were going to be addressed in the new CBA.Other issues like FA compensation would likely be addresed.There was a small window of opportunity for Beeston and AA to game the system and get as many draft picks as possible. Enter Cito’s “policy” of playing vetrans to keep thier Elias ranking.
          The hype machine has created new awareness in the Jays,both in attendance and across various platforms.A new network ,SN1,created ,but not needed , to broadcast the unseen Jays games.
          The goals of the Jays were different every year.
          This years goal is to win.

        • @Bff.

          I would suspect that that he arrival of the dvr make sports properties more valuable than other tv shows for advertisers.

          Sports games are the only things on tv that aren’t fast forwarded, so people watch the ads.

          In the new environment , you can make more money with sports properties.

  9. It’s a cute theory, but strikes me as a bit of a stretch. You’re saying that precisely because Rogers was going to start losing revenue-sharing dollars, it decided to spend more money on the team. I mean, sure, the owners might have looked at it that way, but I think most businesses would instinctively analyze the situation exactly the opposite (I’m about to lose revenue? Time to cut spending.)

    • Those are the incentives. In the old CBA, keeping revenues low was worth $36 million. So if you spend enough extra on the team to add an extra $20 million in revenue, not only do you lose the $36, you also have higher expenses. There is no incentive to improve the team incrementally (you should either be the Yankees or the Rays).

      Now, the $36 million no longer exists. So if you think spending an extra dollar on the team will get more than $1 in revenue, that’s what you will do.

      So actually, the incentive was MORE present for a business than it would have been for many people; adding $10 million in net revenue by investing in the team actually translate to a $26 million loss. The business doesn’t have the mitigating factor of, you know, wanting to field a winning baseball team.

    • Well, you could argue sports is more like luxury marketing — you RAISE the price of a luxury product to generate more sales (up to a point).

      But in this case, it’s about overall revenue and therefore profits to Rogers. If they were keeping costs low and revenue low in order to get a huge percentage boost from the revenue-sharing kicking in, and the revenue-sharing no longer kicks in, then you need to go all out to get revenue as high as possible, while only raising cost by as much as necessary.

      So, old (completely random numbers to try to show my point): Revenue $100M, costs $80M, extra share $30M = $50M total profit.

      New: Revenue $150M, costs $95M, extra share $0M = $55M total profit.

      Of course, they’ve raised payroll by a huge whack, so they must have a decent idea that a winning team will bring in a HUGE increase in revenue.

  10. If you look back, I’ve mentioned this aspect of the CBA multiple times over the last year. I always worried that the Jays would use it as an excuse to actually cut payroll or at least not increase it as the approximately $36 million they were receiving back in 2009 started to get whittled away by MLB.

    I suppose the Jays spending spree this winter just goes to show that what a lot of us were saying with regards to there being a lot more money to spend all along was pretty much true.

  11. After looking back, it’s almost like Beeston knew it was coming.( He did)

  12. meh

  13. Would also explain why the Mariners just dumped 175 million into a new contract for King Felix…

  14. rob and catelyn stark die

  15. Whatever. I can’t envision that this was the only thing that spurred Rogers on.. hell winning makes you money no matter how you slice the revenue sharing.

  16. Won’t these changes in the CBA encourage player salaries to inflate at an even more ridiculous rate? At first glance it seems like a change that just represents new problems for small market teams that can’t afford massive contracts.

  17. Is that Michael Weiner on Selig’s left? Because if so, that is the most Michael Weiner-y looking man I’ve ever seen.

    • Weiner has cancer and comes in to work every day still. Please send your picture out , so we know what a moron looks like.

  18. honestly, I don’t think the revenue sharing had anything to do with Anthopolous’ decision to go all in this offseason. I think the change to the draft pick rules, the fact that his young guys took a step back, the falling Sox and Yanks, and the league wide overvaluing of prospects thanks to the success of Trout and other young players were what drove the decision to make the moves they did.

    Also, didn’t the new tv deals just add $25M to everyone’s bottom line making the loss of revenue sharing for the Jays totally moot?

    Another factor may have been the fan support they felt after the hype heading into last year and they knew they couldn’t lose that momentum.

    Anyway, I love to villainize Rogers as much as the next guy, but I think they deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done. The fact is that they stayed patient through the rebuild despite taking constant shit from fans and media and then they followed through on their promise to spend big bucks when the time was right. Compare this to the leafs who talked about rebuilding but then caved to fan and media pressure leaving them with a mediocre team and 6 wasted years. Point is, AA is a fucking god and Rogers deserves credit for allowing the man to do things the right way.

  19. I think that Rogers deserves credit for allowing AA to net the Marlins/Dickey/Melky. We’ll see if Rogers is willing to “double down” once Josh Johnson’s extension talks heat up. Based on Felix’s deal, he’s in line for a ton of $$$.

    Bidding may start at 5 yrs/100M for JJ…we’ll see what happens.

    • No more than that IMO

    • JJ contract reminds me of Mcgowans in the high risk/ high reward sense on a much higher scale albeit. Due to his injury history and never pitching in the AL east going along with his drop in velocity last year an extension done early may result in a cheaper deal for the jays.

      Like you mentioned tho; if the Jays wanna play things out due to all those factors (which they prolly do) and he shines 5/100 mill is very probable and perhaps too pricey.

      Either route AA takes with JJ will be a gamble
      .GO JAYS.

    • As of this moment, I can’t see Josh Johnson getting $100mil/5yrs, and if that’s what he’s asking for, the Jays should let him test free agency. Felix is one of two pitchers who could make an argument for being the most valuable pitcher in baseball; I’d tend to lean to Verlander, but I could see the argument. Johnson is nowhere near that category. Add in Johnson’s injury history, and you get a pitcher who would be closer to $60mil/4yrs, maybe $70mil/4yrs, in both cases with an option year with a buyout.

    • Trade Romero for prospects and keep Happ or bring up Hutchison . Pay a 6 foot 7 stud his monies of 20 million . Effectively this is only increasing payroll by $6.75 million dollars annually.

  20. when is jose reyes reporting to camp?

  21. If Johnson has a similar season to the last one he could get 100 million but maybe 6-7 years plus options depending on market. The comp seems to be really hurting players though so it may decrease the amount of bidders.

    After seeing him in spring training, the team should decide otherwise there will be a lot less savings. I think Alex though would rather pay more and have more time with the player. It also depends on what crazy numbers his agent is throwing out there.

    • Probably don’t be surprised if he gets a 5 for 100 type of deal with club option for a sixth year

  22. If Market Size wasn’t the qualifier for Revenue Sharing before, then what was it? Payroll or Internal Revenue?

    Where does Miami sit in the equation, are they small or large market? I’ve heard conflicting things on this. They have a fairly large population but not much corporate support.

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