Former Washington Nationals and current New York Mets Pitcher Max Scherzer recently sat down with the LA Times and did a Q&A about the MLB lockout and what players are looking for during the new CBA negotiations.
Scherzer serves on the MLBPA eight-player executive subcommittee along with teammate Francisco Lindor. Andrew Miller, Marcus Semien, Zack Britton, James Paxton, Jason Castro, and Gerrit Cole make up the rest of the contingent. Some interesting points from Scherzer’s interview:
MLB’s integrity is at the heart of CBA negotiations
In every negotiation, both sides of the table are going to jockey for the public’s support it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the players feel that they are fighting for the future and to retain the “integrity” of the sport. What is interesting is how Scherzer frames the argument. “This negotiation is about the integrity of the game from our eyes. We feel as players that too many teams have gone into a season without any intent to win during this past CBA.” Scherzer specifically mentions service-time manipulation and tanking as ways teams have transformed the game. In his interview, Scherzer specifically mentions “Kris Bryant” as a way that owners manipulated service time. “That’s why the Kris Bryant grievance case is so important to all of us players because if it could happen to him, it can happen to anyone.”
Additional Revenue Streams
During the interview, there was a discussion about the additional new sources of revenue that owners are receiving through media deals and gambling and how the players aren’t necessarily interested in getting a piece of the new revenue streams “We’re not trying to tie ourselves to the revenues. That’s a cap system. We encourage the owners to go out and make as much money as possible, and we respect that. But the free-market economics of the game only work if we have a fully competitive league. Teams that are flush with cash would obviously use the resources on player acquisitions and making their teams better with better talent. However, when you start eroding away the competition, the players’ slice of the pie gets reduced unnaturally.
A Grand Bargin?
One new thing to note from Scherzer during this interview is this concept of a “grand bargin” and how the owners took advantage of it. “Well, that’s the kind of third key component to our economic proposals. When you look back at the history of our union, we made a deal called the grand bargain,” Scherzer said. “The grand bargain is that you make less money early in your career so that you can make more money later in your career. Teams have shown that they’re not willing to pay for players’ past production for a whole slew of reasons. And if that’s the case, that’s the case. But if we’re going to look at players that way, then we need to then allocate more money to players earlier in their career. We’re seeing that happen more than ever now, of front offices chiding away middle-class free agents. That’s going at the fundamental part of the grand bargain, and a solution must be found to balance it.”
So what do baseball players believe in?
Union leaders like Scherzer believed this is the strongest they’ve ever seen it on players being on the same page for their wants. “We all believe in the same thing,” Scherzer said. From reading the full conversation, the two main points that the players want to change are tanking and service-time, neither should be a surprise.
According to Scherzer, tanking has increased because of the slot values of draft picks and the amateur and the international marked have surplus value. He says the only way the CBA allows teams to get those players is by losing. “The amateur draft and the international market have incredible surplus value. That’s why the top picks are so coveted. The only way the CBA allows teams to get those players is by losing. That has become the winning strategy, yet that shouldn’t be a winning strategy in professional sports. That doesn’t sit well with players, and it affects a lot of different markets and guys’ ability to live out their dreams to play baseball.,” Scherzer said.
He also tied service-time manipulation and taking together which is in fact interesting in itself “Additionally, when you have that tanking component in there, it also leads to service-time manipulation. As these teams gear up for their window, watching teams manipulate prospects’ clocks is wrong. It’s changing free agency from what it was supposed to be. Free agency’s supposed to be six years, and they’re manipulating it into seven years and that’s not OK in our book.”
Only time will tell what the future of Baseball will look like and who will come out looking good or bad. One thing is for sure, the fans are going to be the ones missing out at end of the day if the two sides can not get a deal done in time for the normal start of Spring Training, so let’s get egos out of the room and make something happen for the fans! Instead of negotiating through the press let’s hope that the two sides will iron out the details face to face because that is what really matters.