Average MLB Team Payrolls Declined Despite Increasing Revenue
Baseball Moneyline

MLB was successfully able to return in full swing during the 2021 season after the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) caused the league to keep fans out of stadiums and shortened the 2020 campaign to 60 games.

Revenue in MLB has risen each season outside of 2020 and set a record $10.7 billion in 2019, according to Forbes. It is unclear how much revenue was made in 2021 as clubs keep their financial information hidden as much as possible, but if the Atlanta Braves are any indication, the league is back to normal after 2020.

It was revealed the Braves had a nearly 11% revenue increase in quarter three of 2021 compared to quarter three in 2019 and exceeded the franchise-record full-year revenue total, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

However, despite the rising amounts of revenue teams are making, players have been seeing less of that money each season since the last collective bargaining agreement that was agreed to prior to the 2017 season, with payrolls dropping by nearly 5% since their previous high in 2017, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:

Major League Baseball payrolls dropped 4% in 2021 compared to the league’s last full season, and the $4.05 billion total was the lowest in a fully completed year since 2015. … Payrolls are down 4.6% from their record high of just under $4.25 billion in 2017, the first year of the just-expired CBA, according to information sent to clubs by the commissioner’s office and obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. Spending on big league players has not been this low since a $3.9 billion total in 2015.

Better compensation for players has been one of the key points the MLB Players’ Association has been fighting for in CBA discussions,said MLBPA executive director Tony Clark.

The union hopes to solve by helping players get paid properly earlier in their career as opposed to the current system that limits earnings until they have six years of experience and can reach free agency.

As the players negotiate for a higher share of the revenue they earn, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said the MLBPA’s proposals are “collectively the most extreme set of proposals in their history,” while MLBPA lead negotiator Bruce Meyer argued the unreasonable proposals have come from the league’s side.

CBA Progress unlikely until just prior to Spring Training

MLB and the MLBPA have long been at odds over various issues, including new rule changes, competitive integrity and service-time manipulation. Tensions have been particularly high since the two sides were unable to agree on an economics plan for the COVID-impacted 2020 season.

MLB and the Player’s Association will continue to work out a new deal, but progress isn’t expected to be made until just before 2022 Spring Training is scheduled to begin.

They are have also yet to discuss core economics, which should begin sometime in January.

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