A year after an owners’ lockout led to the first work stoppage since 1994, MLB’s labor issues stand still.

The 2023 Major League Baseball season will almost certainly be the first “normal” season in a very long time.

The 2020 season was shortened to 60 regular season games, and the playoffs were forced into a bubble due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, in-person attendance was severely limited for most of the year due to the pandemic. Last season, things seemed to be stalled by an owner-managed impasse, and when an agreement was finally reached on a new collective bargaining agreement, the start of the season was pushed back to April 7, pushing the schedule. to make room for a later Opening Day and expanded playoffs.

Later, the cause of the baseball riots brings us to the here and now. A year ago today, shortly after midnight on Dec. 2, 2022, the home team locked out players in the sport’s first work stoppage since 1994. It will be 99 days before the players and owners agree to a new CBA. The deal runs through the 2026 season, meaning five consecutive years starting with the recently concluded 2022 season.

We’re well into the current TBA, so it’s too early to tell what the main issues will be. So to mark the unfortunate one-year anniversary of the lockout, let’s take a (very early) look at some of the issues that could threaten parts of the 2027 offseason deal, or derail it altogether. next Shows that the CBA is too controversial.

International project

Right now, it seems like one of the big jobs. Owners are very keen to implement international projects to ensure a more even distribution of international talent and, in part, to limit labor costs. The latter is, of course, their dominant motivation in any TBA negotiations.

Negotiations on the international project have gone beyond the last round of negotiations on the basis of mutual agreement. However, they did not agree to discuss the issue until the next round of City Council negotiations. The owners offered to waive the qualifying offer system for free agents in exchange for the union’s approval of the international draft, but the players viewed that as an unfair tradeoff. “The league’s responses fell short of anything the players could consider a fair deal.” the union said in a statement once the July deadline was not agreed upon.

In the end, the union probably decided that getting rid of modest anti-market restrictions on free agents wasn’t worth the top item on ownership’s wish list. If the owners want an international draft, they will certainly do so – it will require a more significant offer in return.

Further playoff expansion

The current CBA has expanded the postseason field from 10 teams to 12, but ownership has struggled to reach 14. Common sense suggests that the next time will be the same. reduce the importance of MLBThe main feature of the playoff expansion is, of course, a very silly method, but it is the primary motivation of MLB to increase revenue as often as possible, regardless of the consequences.

Since postseason broadcast rights are so lucrative, MLB will no doubt be looking to attract more, and the easiest way to do that is by adding more games to sell. The union knows it’s important to the league, and it theoretically positions them to want something significant in return, and likely won’t encourage further expansion unless those same desires are met. As we get further into the playoffs, it will be more important to wind down the regular season without November and cold weather, and more importantly NFL. However, regular-season media contracts that cover the entire 162 games, forged at the individual team level, will make that difficult.

Teams that refuse to spend

It is an eternal struggle. With so much guaranteed revenue for teams today in the form of local and national media contracts, there’s no reason not to spend on improving the on-field product. However, it remains an epidemic that harms the sport. Unions probably won’t support a minimum wage that follows a wage cap, but a floor is a very useful solution to the problem of freeloading at the bottom of the wage scale. Raising the minimum wage would raise the floor, yes, but the MLBPA has spent a significant amount of money on the current TBA.

Regardless, unless contenders like the Guardians and Rays start making more goodwill efforts than ownership, and emerging contenders like the Orioles (and possibly the Cubs and Diamondbacks) don’t begin to shift into spending mode, it’s back to being a battleground. Of course, that’s not to say that Oakland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and other places haven’t fully fulfilled their role as owners. Trying to pit team owners against each other at the most basic level will undoubtedly be a priority for the union when the time comes. The battle may involve creating stronger assurances that revenue-sharing recipients will not just pocket the money, but instead use it to improve field products.

Minor league contract negotiations

In August, surprise news broke that the MLBPA would welcome minor leaguers to the expanded roster and trade on their behalf. Meanwhile, the MLBPA announced that it would begin operating under the umbrella of the AFL-CIO, and the process may have been accelerated by MLB’s voluntary recognition of any union representing minor league players that emerged as a result of the ongoing efforts of the Players Association.

The next step is to create a CBA, which MLB and minor league officials are currently working on. With both sides essentially working from scratch and not using the former minor league CBA as a base, it’s a heavy load and the union may have a modest target to reach the finish line. That being said, addressing compensation at the minor league level will certainly be a priority. While salaries for minor league players have increased slightly in recent years, they still earn less than players on basketball, NFL draft teams or the American Hockey League’s G League roster.

In theory, this should all have nothing to do with the next major league CBA, but we’re in uncharted territory again. Will both sides seek a firewall to separate minor league talks from major league ones? Or will the owners seek to use concessions to lower league players as leverage against higher level players? It’s not hard to imagine ownership looking for ways to offset the cost increases if major league players raise wages and benefits. From a purely unkind standpoint, some owners may find this approach divisive.

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