The Yankee Analysts has a post up that clearly and simply sets forth the major issues of contention for the upcoming labor negotiations between the players and the owners.
I like this version because it separates the demands of the players and the demands of the owners rather than simply setting forth “issues” in a general sense. To truly understand the dynamics of the negotiations you need to know what each side wants, and this article does a great job of it.
It also helps you realize why no one is really freaking out about the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Because for the most part, the players and owners want things that aren’t diametrically opposed to what the other wants. There will be some contention here, of course, but this negotiation is going to be more about horse trading than it is about fighting.
The only one that I still think may be stickier than some realize is the stuff about hard slotting for draft pick bonuses. I’ve touched on this before, but I still find it significant that Michael Weiner referred to the idea of hard slotting as “a salary cap” in his introductory press conference in December 2009. The term “salary cap” is a rallying cry for the union. It always has been. The owners know this, and they have publicly abandoned any effort to impose one because they know the union will gladly strike over it and will likely win.
Maybe it’s different for the draft — players have often thrown draftees and minor leaguers under the bus when it comes to work rules — but I don’t think enough people have taken notice of Weiner’s use of that term. For that reason, I think they people are underselling just how hard the union might fight the imposition of hard slotting for the draft. It may happen, but it will come at a higher price than the owners suspect, I think.
All of that said, compared to what’s going on in the other sports these days, I think baseball’s negotiations are going to go pretty smoothly.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.