Getty Images

Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016 — #7: Baseball gets a new Collective Bargaining Agreement

Leave a comment

We’re a few short days away from 2017 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2016. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

This tweet that has gone viral over the past two days:

I have a lot of answers for that because I’m an old man, but my baseball answer for that would be “there was a time when Major League Baseball and the Players Union used to be adversaries.” It’s true! They’d fight about things and the players would go on strike or the owners would lock the players out or what have you. It kind of sucked, obviously, but it was just a part of the landscape of the game.

The last time there was enough acrimony between the league and the union to even threaten a work stoppage was 2002, when one was avoided at the last minute. The last time there was an actual work stoppage was now over 20 years ago, in the form of the 1994-95 strike. Since then, the expiration of each old Collective Bargaining Agreement has been met with an uneventful negotiation followed by a quick ratification of a new deal, with five more years of uninterrupted baseball ensured.

Such was the case this year. The new deal was reached around the first of December and was ratified later in the month. Among the more notable terms:

  • Home field advantage on the World Series will no longer be determined by the winner of the All-Star Game;
  • A hard cap has been placed on bonuses for international players;
  • The disabled list minimum stay has been reduced from 15 to 10 days;
  • Luxury tax thresholds increased, but not by as much as revenue has been increasing; and
  • Rookie hazing rituals will no longer include dressing players up as women or female characters;

A full summary of all of the terms can be read here.

There was nothing earth shattering in the agreement itself, but there were two aspects to it which could have serious repercussions in the future: (1) the union, for the first time ever, agreed to a hard cap on player compensation, in the form of that hard limit on international player bonuses; and (2) the union agreed to major provisions without securing player consensus, with there being several reports of player dissatisfaction with certain terms.

It’s good that we will have baseball, uninterrupted, for the next five seasons. It’s good that a deal was done. But, as I argued at length earlier this month, it’s possible that reaching that deal cost the union quite a bit in terms of solidarity and principle. The players may not have to pay much if anything for that now, but the next time they negotiate with the owners, they’ll have way weaker of a leg to stand on than they used to have as a result.

Bills always have a way of coming due.

Mike Trout to undergo foot surgery

Mike Trout
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Angels star outfielder Mike Trout is done for the year, per a team press release. He’ll undergo surgery to remove the Morton’s neuroma in his right foot sometime over the next week, which will likely require a recovery period that stretches beyond the two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Trout, 28, has been day-to-day with a foot injury since the first week of September. On Monday, he underwent a cryoablation procedure to treat the neuroma on his right foot, but evidently requires further treatment to resolve the issue completely. Per manager Brad Ausmus, Trout ‘tested his foot by running’ on Sunday and found he was still experiencing too much pain to play, prompting his decision to undergo season-ending surgery.

This figures to be the first major setback Trout has seen since his thumb surgery in 2017, but there’s no reason to believe his current ailment will have any substantial effect on his 2020 season. Still, it’s an unfortunate end to another monster campaign by the eight-time All-Star and AL MVP contender, who will finish his 2019 season batting .291/.438/.645 with an AL-best 45 home runs, .1083 OPS, and league-leading 8.6 fWAR.