Brandon Moss, recently acquired by the Athletics from the Royals, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday. He talked about the slow offseason and said some smart things. Here’s the audio followed by a transcription:
It’s our own doing. These past two collective bargaining agreements, any bargaining chip that we’ve had — we’ve incentivized teams to wait us out. We’ve incentivized teams to value draft picks over a known commodity in a Major League Baseball player. I hate to sit here and say that but that’s what we’ve done and it’s not these teams’ fault necessarily that they sit here and say, ‘Okay, well this is the system you’ve set up for us and it’s also a way we can keep some salaries down maybe, or we could maybe not get into the bidding wars that we used to.’ At the end of the day, when you sit there and you don’t fight for everything that the players in the past have fought for to keep things going the way you want them to go, what do you expect to happen? That’s all I can say. We saw this last year but obviously there weren’t the names out there that are still out there. But we saw this last year. It’s gonna continue. It’s just one of those things where the players are going to have to get together and say, ‘Man, we’ve given some things away that we’ve got to find a way to get back.’ You can’t just sit here and salary cap yourself. That’s not what you want. The luxury tax is nothing but a salary cap. We’ve done that to ourselves, that was bargained in. So what can you really say as a player about the way things are going when you’ve done it to yourself. I hate to say that, but it’s what it is.
Moss is correct when he says that the players’ union hasn’t fought “for everything that the players in the past have fought for.” An unnamed league official said of the union after negotiations for the current collective bargaining agreement, “It was like they didn’t care about money anymore.” While the competitive balance tax — colloquially known as the luxury tax — was further cemented, the union bargained for quality-of-life changes like a few extra off-days. The players got complacent and ownership took full advantage.
As Craig mentioned when he wrote about the subject recently, union head Tony Clark’s job is to negotiate on behalf of the players. So if the players are more concerned with off-days than anything else, then that’s the union’s priority. Craig also wrote, “It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for.”
We’ve already seen free agent players propose starting their own spring training camp. And with players like Moss speaking up, we are likely to see more and more mobilization as time goes on between now and when the current CBA expires in December 2021. That is more than enough time to get the players up to speed and on the same page going into negotiations.