MLB begins first layoff since 95 when deal expires – CBS Boston

IRVING, Texas (AP) – Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night, sending the sport toward a management ban that would end a 9,740-day labor peace in more than 26 years. five and a half.

Players and owners have successfully struck four deals in a row without a break, but they’ve been headed for a head-to-head for more than two years.

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Negotiations ended when management negotiators left the union’s hotel about nine hours before the deal lapsed at 11:59 p.m. EST. The players said MLB did not come up with any new central economic proposals this week.

League demands change after anger over average wages falling, middleweight players being forced out by teams focused on paying the rich and veterans being removed in favor Young people are paid less, especially among the clubs tearing up their roster to rebuild.

“As players, we see big problems with it,” New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer said of the 2016 deal. “First and foremost, we noticed a competition problem. competition and how the teams are behaving because of certain rules in there and need to be adjusted for that to bring about competition.”

Eleven weeks remain until pitchers and catchers must report to spring training on February 16, with about 70 days left to reach an agreement allowing on-time start. The opening date is set for March 31 and previously required at least three weeks of organized practice.

Management, intending to maintain the wage cap hit in recent decades, has rejected union requests for what teams see as significant changes to the economic structure of the company. sport, including reduced service time required for free agency and wage arbitration.

Many clubs scrambled to add players before the cut-off and signings were expected to be frozen, committing more than $1.9 billion in new contracts – including a record one day more $1.4 billion on Wednesday.

“It feels like at least some groups of freelance agents have moved faster over the past few days,” said Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington.

Two of the eight members of the union’s executive subcommittee signed major contracts: Texas quarterbacks Marcus Semien ($175 million) and Scherzer ($130 million).

“This is really exciting,” says Scherzer. “I’m a fan of the game and to see people sign right now, to really watch the teams compete in this trendy fashion, it’s refreshing because we’ve seen a freeze in the game. some recent competitions.”

Much has changed since the 232-day strike that took place during the 1994 season, which resulted in the first World Series cancellation in 90 years and a late start to the 1995 season.

That stagnation only ended when a federal judge – future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor – ordered the owner to reinstate the working rules of an expired employment contract.

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Average wages fell from $1.17 million before the strike to $1.11 million but then continued to rise as seemingly inevitable. It peaked at just under $4.1 million in 2017, the first season of the latest CBA, but will likely drop to around $3.7 million when this year’s final figures are calculated.

That money is heavily concentrated at the top of the salary structure. Of the approximately 1,955 players who have signed major league contracts at any point since the final month of the regular season, 112 have earned $10 million or more this year through August 31. , of which 40 people earned at least $20 million, including proportional shares at signing bonuses.

There were 1,397 people making under $1 million, of which 1,271 were at $600,000 or less and 332 under $100,000, a group of young players that shuttle minors.

League chief Tony Clark, the first former All-Star player to become chief executive after Michael Weiner’s death in 2013, said the players are united and understand the need to stick together to achieve a common goal. The parties are still arguing over how the 2020 season has shortened the pandemic, figuring out how long the season could last and making their position before a neutral referee.

The union has withheld the license money, as it usually goes into negotiation; cash, U.S. Treasury securities and investments totaled $178.5 million as of December 31 of last year, according to a financial disclosure form filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“We have a sizable pool of money behind the money that we can allocate to players,” says Scherzer.

Some player representatives have speculated that management’s credit lines could come under pressure following an income shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but the clubs’ finances are more publicly available than they are. with the federation, making it relatively difficult to determine the relative financial strength of a protracted undertaking. stop.

Rob Manfred, who succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in 2015 after a quarter-century as an MLB labor negotiator, made it clear last month that management prefers shutting down the season over a mid-season strike.

“We went down this road. We were locked in ’89 – ’90,” he said. “I don’t think ’94 worked so great for anyone. I think when you look at other sports, the pattern has become that controlling the timing of labor disputes and trying to minimize the realistic prospect of the season being interrupted. That’s what it’s about. It avoids damaging the season.”

Scott Boras, who negotiated Scherzer’s deal and shortened Corey Seager’s $325 million contract with Texas, pushed the union to insist on changes to reduce incentives to reduce payroll during rebuilding. .

“Sometimes the rules of the game ask them to do things that are not in the best interest of the game,” said Boras, “in order for them to be a better competitor for next year, they have to do things that the other players don’t want to do. rules guide them to do.”

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