Friday, January 21, 2022

Manfred: Union proposals will hurt smaller markets

Arlington, Texas (AP) — In Major League Baseball’s first work stoppage in 26 years, Commissioner Rob Manfred said the union’s proposal for more free agency and wider wage arbitration would hurt small-market teams.

The owners kicked the players out at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday after the game’s five-year collective bargaining agreement expired.

Since 1976, players can become free agents after six seasons of major league service. The players’ union proposed starting with the 2023–24 offseason that it be six years or five years and age changes to 30.5, with the second option changing the age to 29.5 starting in 2025–26.

MLB will retain the existing provision or change the eligibility at 29.5 years of age.

“We already have teams in smaller markets that struggle to compete,” Manfred said during a news conference at the Texas Rangers’ ballpark, not far from the hotel where talks broke down. “Shortening the period of time they can control players makes it even harder for them to compete. It’s also bad for fans in those markets. The most negative feedback we have is when a player is free agency goes through, we don’t see it as easy to make available first, we don’t see it as a positive.

Baseball is in its ninth work stop, threatening the start of spring training on February 16 and opening day on March 31.

“The players’ union, as is their right, made an aggressive set of proposals in May, and they refused to budge from the core of those proposals,” Manfred said. “Things like a short reserve period, a $100 million reduction in revenue sharing and wage arbitrage for a full two-year class are bad for the sport, bad for the fans and bad for the competitive balance.”

A full season requires an agreement from early to mid-March.

“Speculation about drop dead deadlines at this point, not productive,” Manfred said. “So I’m not going to do that.”

Union chief Tony Clark planned a news conference for later on Thursday.

The talks have made little or no progress since they began last spring. Manfred said the only tool management had to speed up the process was the lockout.

“People sometimes need pressure to reach an agreement,” Manfred said. “Clearly, we didn’t feel that sense of pressure from the other side during this week.”

In many ways, the dispute is rooted in the union’s desire to have more teams chasing players, leading to more competition and higher salaries on the field, and the management’s desire to reduce salaries in an effort to prevent higher-revenue teams from achieving. to be controlled. An even greater percentage of stars.

“I’ve watched the game as an insider for more than three decades,” Manfred said. “I think most people who understand the game realize that in our smaller markets, it is much harder to win than in our larger markets.”

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