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ESPN: Passan: Baseball is obsessed with value -- and it's changing contracts forever


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#1 BSLChrisStoner

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Posted 12 April 2019 - 12:24 PM

ESPN: Passan: Baseball is obsessed with value -- and it's changing contracts forever

http://www.espn.com/...ntracts-forever



#2 OldSchool

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 10:45 PM

I am a Braves fan and Ozzie Albies agent F ed him. 



#3 mdrunning

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 11:39 PM

As the article points out, Albies' mistake (if indeed, that's the term) was deferring his free agency for four full seasons. Otherwise, he could have hit the market when he was just 26, an age that the market still treats favorably.



#4 FFH

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:09 AM

I think the current shift will need to light a fire under the Player's Union, because this isn't working.  The only way these players are going to be able to get fair value is if they have negotiating leverage from their younger days.  Otherwise, the switch to value baseball is going to continue to drive salaries down.  They may have to do a reflexive salary system, where a player gets paid standardized amounts for meeting incentives - maybe something negotiated by the player's union that is standard for all players.  

 

I could definitely see another strike within the next five years if they can't work this out. 



#5 Mackus

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:09 AM

I could definitely see another strike within the next five years if they can't work this out. 

 

CBA is up after the  2021 season.  So it's coming sooner than that.



#6 weird-O

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:12 AM

I think the current shift will need to light a fire under the Player's Union, because this isn't working.  The only way these players are going to be able to get fair value is if they have negotiating leverage from their younger days.  Otherwise, the switch to value baseball is going to continue to drive salaries down.  They may have to do a reflexive salary system, where a player gets paid standardized amounts for meeting incentives - maybe something negotiated by the player's union that is standard for all players.  

 

I could definitely see another strike within the next five years if they can't work this out. 

You mentioned a potential strike, and that's interesting. As I see it, the players' assoc. has never lost an argument with ownership. The current Arb./FA system was their design. At every step along the way, the owners have pretty much been bitch slapped by the union. Unable to beat the union, they simply learned how to win within the union's system. And the player's are whining about it.

 

I don't see how they could justify a walk out. We're essentially a generation removed from the steroid era. And today's players are complaining about a perceived slight. As they hit their mid-30's, they want to get big contracts, like players in the 90's. But today's mid-30's player isn't getting a 10 year, monster deal, because they aren't as roided out, throwing 102mph or hitting 70 HRs at 40 yrs old. 

 

It's millionaires complaining about billionaires, and it's tiring. 


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#7 DJ MC

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:02 AM

You mentioned a potential strike, and that's interesting. As I see it, the players' assoc. has never lost an argument with ownership. The current Arb./FA system was their design. At every step along the way, the owners have pretty much been bitch slapped by the union. Unable to beat the union, they simply learned how to win within the union's system. And the player's are whining about it.

 

I don't see how they could justify a walk out. We're essentially a generation removed from the steroid era. And today's players are complaining about a perceived slight. As they hit their mid-30's, they want to get big contracts, like players in the 90's. But today's mid-30's player isn't getting a 10 year, monster deal, because they aren't as roided out, throwing 102mph or hitting 70 HRs at 40 yrs old. 

 

It's millionaires complaining about billionaires, and it's tiring. 

 

It's not a "perceived" slight. It's being preventing from receiving anything resembling fair value for your work. It doesn't matter how many orders-of-magnitude it is above you or me arguing with our employers, it's the same thing.

 

The players earn the money and the owners want to prevent them from having all of it.

 

The problem with the system is that it is built on an assumption that worked for forty years: that teams are willing to pay a premium for proven talent, and a limited market will make that even more so. Since teams have gotten smarter* over the past decade, that assumption is less true. So the system needs to change, and that's where there will be a fight.

 

*I say teams, not owners. Owners as a group are still as dumb as they have always been, and the proof is how they are handling this evolution of the system. Instead of trying to find some way to placate the players and make some concessions, they are pretty much openly celebrating how they have outsmarted them, they are taking their legal right to collude in arbitration to absurd levels, and they are basically forcing a work stoppage in the near future when that is entirely unnecessary.


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#8 weird-O

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:50 AM

It's not a "perceived" slight. It's being preventing from receiving anything resembling fair value for your work. It doesn't matter how many orders-of-magnitude it is above you or me arguing with our employers, it's the same thing.

 

The players earn the money and the owners want to prevent them from having all of it.

 

The problem with the system is that it is built on an assumption that worked for forty years: that teams are willing to pay a premium for proven talent, and a limited market will make that even more so. Since teams have gotten smarter* over the past decade, that assumption is less true. So the system needs to change, and that's where there will be a fight.

 

*I say teams, not owners. Owners as a group are still as dumb as they have always been, and the proof is how they are handling this evolution of the system. Instead of trying to find some way to placate the players and make some concessions, they are pretty much openly celebrating how they have outsmarted them, they are taking their legal right to collude in arbitration to absurd levels, and they are basically forcing a work stoppage in the near future when that is entirely unnecessary.

Just so that we're clear. I'm not a Joe Lunchbox type saying, these guys are millionaires, they don't need more money. I hold the opinion that there's plenty of money to go around. When players like Manny or Harper get those types of contracts, my response isn't "they don't need all that". I just ask, will that player, at that price help you achieve your team's goals, or will that commitment ultimately impede accomplishing your goals.

 

I don't have an issue with the arbitration process. It's an agreement the players wanted, and they got it. Like the Nationals owners, they got what they wanted, and now they don't like it? 

 

But speaking strictly to the subject of free agents in their 30's, you get what the market is willing to pay you. If you're talking about the 1980's version of collusion, that's wrong, because all the owners worked in concert to suppress earning potential and opportunity. This isn't that, unless I'm missing something. I'll use AJ as an example, because he's an active player in that demographic. I don't see how anyone can say he got screwed by the system. He simply doesn't offer anything that a GM couldn't find at a better price. So his earning expectations needed to be adjusted. And they were. 

 

While the industry of pro sports isn't a seamless apples to apples comparison to the more traditional industries, some things translate. And one of them is that execs make decisions based on profits. Whether it's a GM or the VP of a division within a company, they both do the same thing. They move along the X & Y axis to figure out how to accomplish what they want/need at the lowest possible price.   


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#9 Mackus

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 11:18 AM

I don't have an issue with the arbitration process. It's an agreement the players wanted, and they got it. Like the Nationals owners, they got what they wanted, and now they don't like it? 

 

These are very different scenarios.  The Nationals are trying to break an agreed-upon contract that is still in effect.  Players are talking about what they will ask for in the next contract.  They are not talking about insisting that the current CBA be altered in the middle of the deal.


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#10 DJ MC

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 12:28 PM

I don't have an issue with the arbitration process. It's an agreement the players wanted, and they got it. Like the Nationals owners, they got what they wanted, and now they don't like it? 

 

That's not really what it is. It is a compromise between the players wanting free agency after limited service time and the owners wanting more service time control.


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#11 weird-O

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 12:34 PM

These are very different scenarios.  The Nationals are trying to break an agreed-upon contract that is still in effect.  Players are talking about what they will ask for in the next contract.  They are not talking about insisting that the current CBA be altered in the middle of the deal.

Yes, that's technically true. Because CBAs have a beginning and end date. But the structure of the arbitration process has stayed largely the same, correct? I realize that things evolve, and this would seem like something that would evolve. But it hasn't, and I think any call to restructure the process now, doesn't come from the perspective of poor earning conditions, or an indentured servitude type of concern. It seems like it's being brought up because players over 30 are not being offered the same payday they once were, when PEDs were extending their prime years.

It too, is an evolution. But because it's a climate change that benefits the teams, there are calls for it to be stopped. And why? I think it's because the players grew accustomed to artificially inflated salaries. This is nothing more than the pendulum swinging back toward the other side. Naturally the Union doesn't like that idea, but it's not collusion or any other visible form of illegal business activity. 

 

Like mdrunning said (I think it was him) in another recent thread on this subject, in the 70's and 80's agents were dancing circles around baseball execs and owners, who were not equipped to negotiate with them. Now the execs are just as savvy, maybe even more so, from the sounds of this article. The two Braves players that were used as an example, both agreed to their extensions. And both seem happy. Albies most certainly sold out his future for his present. But he knows where his paycheck is coming from, for the next several years, even if he has a career ending injury in tonight's game. It's a trade off. That doesn't make the Braves an evil corporation. And I feel like that's the narrative this article is projecting. More than that, it's projecting that onto the other 29 as well.       


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#12 DJ MC

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 12:47 PM

Yes, that's technically true. Because CBAs have a beginning and end date. But the structure of the arbitration process has stayed largely the same, correct? I realize that things evolve, and this would seem like something that would evolve. But it hasn't, and I think any call to restructure the process now, doesn't come from the perspective of poor earning conditions, or an indentured servitude type of concern. It seems like it's being brought up because players over 30 are not being offered the same payday they once were, when PEDs were extending their prime years.

It too, is an evolution. But because it's a climate change that benefits the teams, there are calls for it to be stopped. And why? I think it's because the players grew accustomed to artificially inflated salaries. This is nothing more than the pendulum swinging back toward the other side. Naturally the Union doesn't like that idea, but it's not collusion or any other visible form of illegal business activity. 

 

Like mdrunning said (I think it was him) in another recent thread on this subject, in the 70's and 80's agents were dancing circles around baseball execs and owners, who were not equipped to negotiate with them. Now the execs are just as savvy, maybe even more so, from the sounds of this article. The two Braves players that were used as an example, both agreed to their extensions. And both seem happy. Albies most certainly sold out his future for his present. But he knows where his paycheck is coming from, for the next several years, even if he has a career ending injury in tonight's game. It's a trade off. That doesn't make the Braves an evil corporation. And I feel like that's the narrative this article is projecting. More than that, it's projecting that onto the other 29 as well.       

 

The players certainly aren't blameless here. They appear to have gotten complacent, and allowed the teams to catch up and possibly get ahead of them. But that doesn't mean the players don't have the right to get upset about it and try to push back as they realize what happened.


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#13 weird-O

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:43 PM

The players certainly aren't blameless here. They appear to have gotten complacent, and allowed the teams to catch up and possibly get ahead of them. But that doesn't mean the players don't have the right to get upset about it and try to push back as they realize what happened.

As I mentioned earlier, the system in which these people operate, is almost entirely created by the Union. If they're getting beaten at their own game, that doesn't mean they get to rewrite the rules. This boils down to one thing, teams aren't spending as much as they use to, on players that are over 30. And the Union doesn't like that. In this case, the teams are the consumers, and you can't make someone buy a product at your asking price, if they don't value your product at your price point. Based on what I'm seeing here, and in other things that have been posted, the teams aren't doing anything wrong. So why are they being vilified? 


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#14 DJ MC

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:51 PM

As I mentioned earlier, the system in which these people operate, is almost entirely created by the Union. If they're getting beaten at their own game, that doesn't mean they get to rewrite the rules. This boils down to one thing, teams aren't spending as much as they use to, on players that are over 30. And the Union doesn't like that. In this case, the teams are the consumers, and you can't make someone buy a product at your asking price, if they don't value your product at your price point. Based on what I'm seeing here, and in other things that have been posted, the teams aren't doing anything wrong. So why are they being vilified? 

 

If a legal loophole was found that allowed someone to punch people randomly and get off entirely scot-free, would you be asking the same question while watching the assaults? Legal right is not the same as not doing anything wrong.

 

You are putting WAY too much into the idea that the players created the system without any owner input. When you look at the history of what happened, this is simply not true. Most of the current system has evolved from compromises made between the two sides. The owners were incompetent and did many dumb things (and again I want to point out how the current intelligence is coming less from them and far more from the GMs and team presidents of the Moneyball generation), but they were always a force and wielded their force whenever they wanted (usually, the wrong place and time).


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#15 weird-O

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 02:57 PM

If a legal loophole was found that allowed someone to punch people randomly and get off entirely scot-free, would you be asking the same question while watching the assaults? Legal right is not the same as not doing anything wrong.

 

You are putting WAY too much into the idea that the players created the system without any owner input. When you look at the history of what happened, this is simply not true. Most of the current system has evolved from compromises made between the two sides. The owners were incompetent and did many dumb things (and again I want to point out how the current intelligence is coming less from them and far more from the GMs and team presidents of the Moneyball generation), but they were always a force and wielded their force whenever they wanted (usually, the wrong place and time).

OK, I like the way you phrased that. it will help me to view it from another angle. So what are the teams doing that equates to not negotiating in good faith? I'm not seeing it, but that doesn't mean it's not there. 


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#16 mdrunning

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:32 AM

If a legal loophole was found that allowed someone to punch people randomly and get off entirely scot-free, would you be asking the same question while watching the assaults? Legal right is not the same as not doing anything wrong.

 

You are putting WAY too much into the idea that the players created the system without any owner input. When you look at the history of what happened, this is simply not true. Most of the current system has evolved from compromises made between the two sides. The owners were incompetent and did many dumb things (and again I want to point out how the current intelligence is coming less from them and far more from the GMs and team presidents of the Moneyball generation), but they were always a force and wielded their force whenever they wanted (usually, the wrong place and time).

I'm not sure I agree with the above. The owners had precious little input into the current compensation structure simply because they had little negotiating leverage. Messersmith had gutted the reserve clause, so they were pretty much going to have to go along with whatever Marvin Miller put before them. They could rage at the dying of the light all they wanted, but free agency was the new reality and they were simply going to have to get used to it.

 

The players wanted a star-driven compensation system, but they also wanted a threshold for free agency that was long enough so that only the top players could reach it, but was also short enough so that they weren't washed up by the time they got there. That magic number was six years, and while the owners may have ultimately proposed it, the players would have held out for it had it not ultimately been put on the table. The biggest difference then was that the players understood the market and how it would work, while the owners only understood monopolistic control.

 

What I see now is baseball front offices doing what Marvin Miller started doing so brilliantly over a half century ago: Figure out where you want to be in five to 10 years and figure out how to get there step-by-step. Rather than attempting the blitzkrieg approach, in which owners tried futilely to wipe out all of the gains the players had taken years to achieve (and ultimately get clobbered every time), what teams are doing now is achieving equilibrium step by step and inch by inch. They've managed to de-link arbitration with free agency, they've put limits on compensation for both draft picks and international free agents, they've achieved free-agent compensation (now through the qualifying offer) and they've had the players sign on to a luxury tax, which has slowly acted as a de facto salary cap. 

 

The players now eerily resemble management some four decades ago, in that they're trying desperately to defend a system which right now appears to be unsustainable. If the players are going to regain the upper hand, the burden will be on them to remove some of the mechanisms which have put downward pressure on salaries. That likely isn't going to be achieved without concessions in other areas.


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#17 FFH

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 01:52 AM

You mentioned a potential strike, and that's interesting. As I see it, the players' assoc. has never lost an argument with ownership. The current Arb./FA system was their design. At every step along the way, the owners have pretty much been bitch slapped by the union. Unable to beat the union, they simply learned how to win within the union's system. And the player's are whining about it.

 

I don't see how they could justify a walk out. We're essentially a generation removed from the steroid era. And today's players are complaining about a perceived slight. As they hit their mid-30's, they want to get big contracts, like players in the 90's. But today's mid-30's player isn't getting a 10 year, monster deal, because they aren't as roided out, throwing 102mph or hitting 70 HRs at 40 yrs old. 

 

It's millionaires complaining about billionaires, and it's tiring. 

 

It's a different environment, and the proposals the players could put forth would probably heavily cut into the profits of the organizations they work for.  Any business owner would be uncomfortable with that proposition. 

 

If the players push too far, and the owners are unwilling to agree, then the players will fight back. 

 

I agree about the millionaires/billionaires thing, but MLB fights could create some legal precedent for employer-employee relations, which would have a greater impact on the business environment as a whole in the US. 






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