Everything you wanted to know about baseball’s upcoming labor negotiations

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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.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.