Prior to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the Players’ Association (MLBPA) expiring earlier this week, the two sides were engaged in meetings and exchanged proposals as they attempted to negotiate a new deal.
Despite their conversations, the CBA expired and a lockout went into effect immediately. It’s frozen transactions involving 40-man rosters and prevents players from using team facilities until a new agreement is reached.
The MLBPA has remained focused on better competition and a player compensation system that is fairer for the union and more conducive to reaching free agency at a younger age.
In one of MLB’s final proposals before the lockout began, they called for an expanded postseason format that would have 14 total teams make the playoffs, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN:
• The team with the best record in each league would get a bye into the best-of-five division series.
• The remaining two division winners would get to pick their wild-card opponent from the bottom three wild-card teams. The division winner with the second-best record would pick first then the No. 3 seed in the league would pick its opponent from the final two wild-card teams. The wild-card team with the best record would play the wild-card team which wasn’t picked by a division winner.
• Once matchups are set, the higher-seeded teams would host all three games in a best-of-three wild-card round.
• Winners in the wild-card round would advance to the division series and the playoffs would continue as it has in the past.
MLB also proposed a Draft lottery system that would give every team that misses the playoffs a chance to get the top overall pick in the draft, similar to what the NHL and NBA already do:
The league is offering a system where all non-playoff teams would have a chance at the No. 1 pick — not just the team with the worst record. The worst team would still have better odds than the second-worst team, and so on and so forth, but in theory any non-playoff team could end up with a top-three pick.
The lottery would only be for picks one through three then the draft would continue as it has in the past, according to regular season record. The playoff teams would pick according to how they finished in the postseason. The World Series winner would pick last.
Both parts of this proposal could help solve part of MLB’s competition problem.
As the rules are currently, teams are practically encouraged to tank for a top pick when they aren’t in a competitive phase. By doing that they end up costing veteran players jobs and reduce overall player salaries.
An expanded format with no guaranteed odds of getting a top-three draft pick could encourage more clubs to be more aggressive as they remain in the hunt for October baseball.
As it stands, 10 teams make the playoffs under MLB’s current rules, so expanding it to 14 would increase every team’s odds. That would make it more enticing for each team to at least try to finish around .500.
On the other side, this could also cause teams to spend less money as the bar to get into the playoffs would be lowered.
If that happened, it would go against the MLBPA’s goal of fairer compensation because an expanded playoff format would bring in more revenue to the sport.
This proposal is not the solution to the problems, but it does seem to take a bigger step than MLB’s previous proposals did.
Manfred: ‘offseason lockout’ different than ‘labor dispute’ for MLB
Although the league was not required to impose a lockout, it has made it clear they felt it necessary.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred argued an offseason lockout that moves them closer to an agreement is different than a labor dispute that costs games, and questioned why fans don’t understand that.
However, Manfred is ignoring that most fans don’t want the season to be put in jeopardy or wait longer for their teams to make offseason moves, regardless of the reason.
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