MLB

MLB proposes new service time rules in latest CBA negotiations, per report

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Last month Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Associated held their first face-to-face negotiation session in an effort to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA is set to expire Dec. 1 and baseball — official major league baseball — can not be played without a new agreement.

During their meeting last month, MLB proposed a revised service time arrangement in which arbitration-eligible players split a $1 billion pool and all players become a free agent at 29 1/2 years old, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Here are more details from Sherman:

What MLB proposed was to create a $1 billion pool (and to tie that pool total to revenue in future years) for all eligible players, to replace arbitration. A formula would be created to determine how much players would receive. Arbitration-eligible players received roughly $650 million for this season.

And free agency at 29 ¹/₂ (birthdays before or after July 1 would determine the half year), would allow all players to get at least one free agent shot in their twenties. 

The MLBPA is likely to have several issues with the proposal. For starters, creating a $1 billion pool for arbitration-eligible players is akin to a salary cap. It is a set pool of money that can not be exceeded, and the union has remained steadfast against any sort of hard cap on player payroll over the decades.

Also, setting the free agency age at 29 1/2 would help some players — Sherman notes Aaron Judge would become a free agent this offseason under the proposal rather than have to wait until next year — but hurt others. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would remain under control with the Blue Jays for 10 years before hitting free agency rather than the usual six, for example. 

Star free agents in their mid-20s like Alex Rodriguez and Bryce Harper are best able to move the salary bar up. MLB’s proposal would stifle that growth. The MLBPA could counter with free agency at age 29 1/2 or six years of service time (the current system), whichever comes first, though that would not combat service time manipulate for very young players like Guerrero.

The general rule of thumb is if MLB proposes it, it saves the owners money somehow, and it should be noted proposals at this stage are just that: proposals. They aren’t a final offer and there is still plenty of time to negotiate. Last month it was reported MLB proposed a $100 million salary floor with a drastically lowed $180 million luxury tax threshold.



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