Representatives of MLB’s locked-out players met Monday with a delegation of owners for an all-too-rare discussion of the core economic issues that make up the current labor disagreement. And for the first time since late November, one side moved a little bit toward the other, providing a foundation for substantive negotiations. Unfortunately, it appears the Players Association was the first party to blink, dropping a proposal for age-based free-agency and moving the target for a reduction in profit sharing. Per Evan Drellich of The Athletic, this means the current six-year service-time requirement for free agency is likely to remain unchanged. Bummer.
The profit-sharing compromise is also a little bit of a let-down. Players say the current profit-sharing model takes the pressure off cheapskate owners to field quality baseball teams, and given baseball’s ruined competitive landscape that sounds reasonable enough. Or, anyway, anything that can be done to put pressure on Peter Angelos and Bob Nutting to at least pretend to compete for players and prestige and pennants is a good thing. If it means making the few rich teams willing to splurge on talent all the richer, the hell with it! But profit-sharing was one of the three areas owners were not willing to put on the table, and so players have reportedly shifted their goal from a $100 million reduction in profit sharing for so-called small-market teams, to a mere $30 million reduction.
This was never going to be a clean sweep for the union. Sooner or later they would have to give something back in order to get the ball rolling toward a new collective bargaining agreement and an on-time start to the baseball season. After Monday’s productive meeting, owners reportedly “indicated for the first time that [they are] open to a pre-arbitration bonus pool” during a follow-up session Tuesday. The goal here is to increase the income available to players stuck in pre-arbitration hell, which the union hopes to accomplish by raising minimum salaries and by distributing bonus money. But Jeff Passan of ESPN has some striking numbers that show how far apart the sides remain:
MLB is offering $10 million in the pool while the players want $105 million, according to sources … MLB also offered to increase the starting minimum salary for first-year players from $600,000 to $615,000, but the players want a bump to $775,000. The current minimum salary is $570,500, and MLB did not change its previous offers for second-year players ($650,000) and third-year players ($700,000).ESPN
So the parties are talking, but they’re a long, long way from resolution. Let us therefore return once more to the solemn work of observing the faces of baseball’s locked-out players. The faces have been banished from MLB’s website, pending a new CBA. but still the faces are out there. Here we provide the faces a shelter from the cold, and a place to be seen, which after all is the true purpose of a face. The collection atop this blog includes an electrifying Curaçaoan, a flame-throwing closer, a couple grizzled ironmen, baseball’s worst shitheel, and the extremely cool son of perhaps my favorite player ever. I recognize a whopping nine of these men. This is basically a superpower.
Please share the names of the faces you recognize down below. Also here is the key for the collection from Day 51 of the lockout. My apologies to Pavin Smith for using a photo where he appears to be watching the final third of Stepmom. Can you believe we have already remembered 322 baseball players? Wow!