Expect nothing radical in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement

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As we’ve mentioned often, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have been negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to replace the one which is set to expire on December 1. There has been no suggestion of serious acrimony or the threat of a work stoppage. There have been some random reports of some changes, but it now sounds as if the new boss is going to look a lot like the old boss.

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reported over the weekend that, apart from the possibility of an international draft, which we’ve talked about at length here, there is unlikely to be anything radical in the new CBA.

Despite some rumblings about possibly shortening the season, the 162-game schedule is likely to hold steady. The 25-man roster is, per Ken Rosenthal’s report the other day, is going to soon become the 26-man roster and September roster expansion will be limited. Competitive balance/cost control measures such as the Luxury Tax will stay in place, though the payroll amount which triggers punitive tax measures will likely increase over its current $189 million.

The international draft is currently the greatest point of contention between the union and the league, but it seems unlikely that it will stand in the way of a deal. The qualifying offer/compensatory draft pick system is reportedly something which the union would like to alter because it depresses the value of certain free agents, but it seems as though there is more likely to be mere tweaks to that system than any sort of fundamental alteration.

It’s understandable why MLB and the MLBPA wish to keep things as close to the same as possible. Labor peace has made for extraordinary increases in revenue and salaries. One might observe, as we have observed on several occasions, that the amount the owners have benefitted over the past decade or so has outstripped the degree to which the players have benefitted and that, as the reason for MLB’s increased revenues, perhaps the players could and should be doing better than they are. One might also observe, however, that the players don’t seem to be too terribly bothered by that. At least bothered enough to put serious pressure on MLB to change the current state of affairs all that much.