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Major League Baseball Is Heading Down a Very Dangerous Path That Likely Leads To a Players' Strike

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Major League Baseball is playing a very dangerous game right now and it’s leading towards the inevitable: a players’ strike. It’s not something anybody wants, but the CBA is being exploited big time by owners across the board and it has put players in very tough spots. Over the weekend a chart from FanGraphs started circling where the top contracts in baseball history were projected out to what they’d be worth in today’s market. It basically shows how much owners used to spend, compared to now.

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A-Rod’s first contract, one that he lived up to and more, would be like giving a guy $600 million in today’s world. Jeter’s hovering right under $450 million. Fast forward to now, with two of the bigger free agents the game has ever seen available on the market. A few years ago people were throwing the $400 million tag around both of these guys. MLB Trade Rumors, which is very very good at projecting contract numbers, thought Manny would get a 13 year deal for $390 million and 14 for 400 for Harper. Machado, currently, is looking at $250 mill or lower. There are some talks the Yankees will offer $200 million for like seven years, but they haven’t even made an official offer yet (numbers have been discussed). The White Sox reportedly have an offer out there in the $200 mill range, but nowhere close to 300. Harper appears to be set on the Nationals as a return spot with their offer rumored to be in the 350 ballpark (unless the Dodgers go bananas). The crazy part about all of this is that a collective five teams are in the negotiations between both guys. FIVE. Two superstar level players entering their prime at the age of 26 have five teams interested. That’s a Major League Baseball problem. I’m not saying every team needs to be lining up at each guy’s doorsteps with a dump truck full of money, but ball clubs aren’t even entertaining the idea of an offer. Look at those contracts above and what bidding wars used to look like and look what we have now. The luxury tax number is a thing that either needs to go away completely or be increased. I know it was created to create this competitive balance and penalize big market teams from spending so much, but it’s killing the players. The Yankees are terrified to go over this number and be penalized and that’s an issue that is hurting the game. It’s not just the Yankees either, it’s a ton of teams.

The next issue, the bigger one in my mind, is the service time dilemma. There is no sport that handles rookies like MLB does and it’s ridiculous. For those not fully up to speed with the rule, let me digress. When a player accrues 172 days on a major league roster he gains a year of service time. You need to have six of those years to enter free agency. After three of those years of making absolute dog shit, the player can negotiate raises through arbitration. It helps, but it’s not the same as negotiating a real contract with extended years like you can in pretty much any other sport. Over the recent years, teams have started to mess with service time and kept players down in the minors just long enough into the year where it wouldn’t count against their service time. That’s fucked, but it’s the business of saving money for the owners so they’re all for it. The Cubs did it with Kris Bryant, the Yankees did it with Gleyber Torres, and the Nats did it with phenom Juan Soto. It’ll continue to happen until someone speaks up and takes a stand against it.

Those two big issues that I mapped out are why Major League Baseball is most certainly headed for a strike in the next two to four years. It’s going to suck and hopefully not last too long, but it’s coming. The CBA needs big changes, fast and it is not expired until the end of the 2021 season. This is going to happen when Aaron Judge is like 29 and Gleyber is 24 and every young Yankee is in the prime of their careers so I don’t want it as much as you don’t. This goes for Mookie Betts, Bregman, etc. There are tons of young stars that would be fucked if this strike happens. Fix this shit Manfred. I need my baseball.