Collective Bargaining Breakdown

As future labour disputes threaten to disrupt play in the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball’s own Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association will expire in December of this year.  However, unlike their professional sport brethren, the threat of a work stoppage is unlikely.

Why?  Well, because everyone is making a lot of money.

Nonetheless, there are a few items of contention that should result in a few changes to the way that teams operate moving forward.  The Yankee Analysts explain:

After so many years of acrimony, it seems as if baseball’s owners and players have found a way to share the game’s enormous wealth. However, that doesn’t mean the upcoming CBA will be completely uneventful. Just because neither side is likely to seek a major change to the sport’s financial system doesn’t mean each party won’t have a wish list they’d like to incorporate into the current setup. Listed below are some possible issues that could come up during the negotiations.

Here’s a quick look at what both sides will be looking for as they sit down to negotiate over the course of the next ten months.

What the owners want: International draft, mandatory slotting, expanded playoffs, increased drug testing, lower luxury tax, and eliminating the Super Two.

What the players want: A salary floor penalty, adjustments to free agent compensation, adjustments to MLB’s allowable debt threshold, and increased minimum salary.

Looking over these issues, it seems to me that smaller market teams have a lot more invested in these negotiations than they might have in the past.

Jonah Keri, speaking to Jeff Blair on the FAN 590 this morning talked a bit about the preliminary negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA, and more specifically how it might affect the Tampa Bay Rays, and the rest of the American League East.

He suggests that the threat of contraction isn’t a realistic option and has far more to do with the owners, Hank Steinbrenner specifically, using the subject as part of an Overton window strategy, in which they set expectations high to make compensation look more even than it actually is.

For his part, MLBPA chief Michael Weiner is also dismissive over suggestions of contraction, while making the owners aware that the union’s agreeable attitude would change quickly if the idea was tabled.

Do I think it’s likely that the owners are going to try to contract? I don’. Do I think there’s — to borrow your word — a ‘legitimate’ reason to contract? I don’t think there is. All I would say is if that changes, if contraction becomes a goal of the owners in this negotiation, the tenor of the talks would change quickly and dramatically.

Caving into the demands of HardballTalk for the link to The Yankees Analysts’ great post.