MLB Rumors: WAR System Proposed To Take Place Of Salary Arbitration
Rob Manfred, 2021 MLB Draft
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos

With the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to expire on Dec. 1, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are in a race against time to reach a new deal before a potential lockout goes into effect.

To this point, there has been little to no progress in talks between the sides. The league and union reportedly have presented proposals to each other, only for all of them to be rejected.

One of the primary focuses for the MLBPA is addressing the blatant service-time manipulation that has been happening across the league in recent years.

MLB previously offered to eliminate salary arbitration and distribute a predetermined amount of money to eligible players before free agency, but that idea was shot down by the union.

The league reportedly has countered with a new proposal that involves paying players based on FanGraphs’ wins above replacement (WAR), per Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:

Overall, the proposal is similar to the one the league made in August, people with knowledge of the discussions said. Like August’s proposal, Wednesday’s would grant players free agency at the age of 29 1/2 and do away with arbitration. The most significant change between the two versions is how player salaries would be determined prior to free agency.

In the August proposal, MLB offered to use a predetermined sum of money that would be distributed to eligible players, those who had reached at least three years of service time. This time, MLB is offering to pay players based on performance, specifically on a calculation of wins above replacement, or WAR. There are multiple variants of WAR, but MLB proposed to rely on FanGraphs’ version, or fWAR.

The latest proposal by MLB is not considered likely to go over well with the players. There are multiple versions of WAR, but each one of them attempts to sum up a player’s total contributions to his team.

The current salary arbitration system already is strongly influenced by a player’s performance. The Los Angeles Dodgers have four players going through the process this offseason, including Trea Turner, who is projected to receive a salary of just under $20 million for the 2022 season.

‘Not a ton of hope’ MLB, Players Association will agree to new CBA by deadline

It’s no secret MLB and the Players Association have not been able to agree on much over the past few seasons. Even before this latest snag, there wasn’t much hope that a new CBA would be hammered out by the deadline.

If a deal isn’t reached in time, it would all but ensure the sport’s first work stoppage since the 1994-95 players’ strike, which lasted 232 days.

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