As the negotiating continues (hopefully), made-up deadlines get nearer and the future of baseball remains up in the air, MLB has made another proposal. And since there isn’t a whole lot else to discuss right now unless you’re a Broncos fan, let’s go over it.
MLB’s proposal, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Luxury tax thresholds: 230, 232, 236, 240, 242⁰
• Prearb pool: 40m, flat over time
• Pool counts against CBT (1.33m per team)
•Minimum salary: 700, 715, 730, 750, 770
Okay, that doesn’t look too horrible on the surface, right? MLB is actually moving a bit on the CBT, the minimum salary increases a bit... but also, the pre-arb pool is flat (not good), and it counts against the CBT. Then there’s also this:
A big issue, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal: MLB wants to add a new surchage level to the luxury tax. Right now, there are three levels: base, first surcharge, and second surcharge. Now MLB wants to put in a third to deter owners who have a mind to spend well above the pack.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
Can we call that the Dodgers and Steve Cohen tax? Possibly. There’s been moments in years past when MLB owners have denied other potential owners the shot at buying a team, of course; Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, was stopped from purchasing the Chicago Cubs in 2008, and he was also deterred from going after the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers after that. The reasoning is likely that Cuban would spend a lot more money on the team than most, blasting above the luxury tax, and MLB owners as a group don’t want that. The more you spend to improve your team, the more taxed you are. The purpose is clear, isn’t it? Moving on, however.
Another major part of MLB’s proposal: MLB is tying removal of the qualifying offer to instituting an international draft.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
That’s a bad one. The MLBPA has never been shy about throwing Minor Leaguers under the bus if it suits them, and this one would be in the same ballpark. Any draft system is essentially a way to pay athletes a fixed amount of under-market-value dollars and reward poor performance, if we’re being honest, and this would be no different. As you’ll see, most of the movement MLB is doing in certain areas is being tied to other gains, so they’re not budging as much as you might think.
In MLB’s proposal, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal, all rule changes MLB would want could be expedited, not just select ones like pitch clock, larger bases and shift. Can’t be expedited in season though — only in offseason— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Draft lottery at 6 picks. MLB was at 5 previously.
I don’t know about you, but MLB having the power to unilaterally implement rule changes has the potential to be... insane, and the players should seriously consider what it could mean. As far as the draft lottery goes, moving one more spot isn’t a difference-maker, honestly. Is there something else? Oh, yes:
Some other details of MLB proposal:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Players can be optioned max 5 times before being exposed to waivers
• Small markets can pick in draft lottery for two straight years before sliding to 10th pick.
• Large markets can pick only one year in lottery before going to 10th
The interesting one of these three is the concept of limiting how many times a player can be optioned from the Majors to MiLB, because it goes directly against the concept of bullpenning (which, coincidentally, Justin Wick explored yesterday in this great piece). It’s very difficult to hold up pulling starters after 18 batters for 162 games unless you can rotate fresh relievers in and out from Triple-A. The Rays have been experts at doing that in recent years, but it’s a brutal existence for those relievers who have the shuffle between the big league club and the Minors anywhere between 6-12 times in a season.
On service time, with @Ken_Rosenthal:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Top 2 Rookie of Year vote getters can get a full year of service.
• A team that brings up a player for Opening Day can net 3 draft picks over time, one pick per year, if that player does well in voting
Teams have never been shy about manipulating service time. Just ask Kris Bryant, who under these hypothetical measures would’ve gotten a full year of service time in Rookie of the Year 2015 campaign and hit free agency a year earlier than he actually did.
The concept of gifting draft picks to teams that bring up good rookies right away instead of doing the little waiting game until a player can’t get a full year of service is an interesting one, but what does “doing well in voting” mean? Top three in Rookie of the Year voting? Top five? That has to be defined, but the concept isn’t the worst thing in the world.
I’d like to remind people that, again, just because ownership is making slight moves in some areas, it doesn’t mean that the overall deal they’re suggesting is actually less advantageous for them, because they keep tying improvements to things that can only be looked at as step backs. I’m not overly optimistic here, if you couldn’t tell. I still believe owners desire to miss a couple dozen games at the start of the season, but we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully some progress is made, I miss having tons of ballgames on every day.
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One of these prospects is Ezequiel Tovar, and the reason is simple: good defender at a very important position with plus contact skills. The one thing keeping him from being a stud prospect is his plate discipline, and the fact that he’s already on the 40-man roster without having performed at Double-A yet means there’s a chance the Rockies burn option years, as is currently happening with Helcris Olivarez.
A reminder on what the CBT is actually there to do. It effectively acts as a soft salary cap already, with a good amount of teams spending close to it but very few reaching it or going past it.
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