Economic effect of dribbling, the heart of the dispute in Major League Baseball

NEW YORK – Francisco Lindor’s $ 341 million contract with the New York Mets was supposed to favor the signing of juicy deals for other shortstops.

And the same was expected of pitchers when aces Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer signed colossal contracts.

For years, players have benefited from a trickle-down economy, in which high salaries for stars in turn promote higher incomes for the less famous.

But while a number of contracts have set records in recent seasons, raising the top of the pay scale, it hasn’t done much for players lower down.

And this would have had an impact on the loss of the baseball middle class.

Players believe in a market where profits are spilling from the top down. That, coupled with his desire to increase club payrolls, is at the heart of the financial differences that have led to the first major league job stoppage in 26 years.

Lindor, Cole and Scherzer are on the union’s eight-member executive subcommittee. The group also includes infielder Marcus Semien, catcher Jason Castro and pitchers Zack Britton, Andrew Miller and James Paxton.

Of those players, only Castro, with $ 3.5 million, earned less than $ 12 million the previous season.

And of the 1,670 players who appeared on a major league roster this year, 1,145 made less than a million dollars. The figure includes 771 players who earned less than half a million, and 241 who earned less than $ 100,000.

“Ultimately, we are fighting to improve things in many places for the next collective bargaining agreement,” Miller wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “We want all players to be treated and compensated in the same way, for each team to try to win, and for all fans of a team to see the best possible version of baseball at the end of the day.”

Worried about the depression in wages due to the so-called luxury tax and a decline in the payrolls of the majors since 2017, the union proposed raising the threshold of that tax, from $ 210 to $ 245 million dollars.

Players would reduce the time they would be eligible for free agency from six to five.

An overwhelming percentage of the winnings would go to the players who earn the most.

Major League Baseball believes that the union’s proposals would cause more stars to leave the small markets. Players consider that this argument actually hides an aversion to higher spending.

“The closer you get to a free market, the closer you also get to an accurate valuation of players. The more restrictions there are, the more artificial salaries will be, “said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University.” But there is also the concern that all leagues have, that if there is a free market, the teams from the biggest markets will attract the best players, since they will be willing to pay more. “

Negotiations broke down on December 1, hours before the collective contract expired. Major League Baseball declared a lockout the next day.

Both parties have been publicly silent ever since. Talks on crucial economic issues are not expected to resume until next month, as February 16, the date for the preseason to begin, draws closer.

The top 100 highest-paid players in the majors accounted for 50.6% of 2021 earnings on opening day payrolls.

Since many teams pledged a high percentage of their payroll money to the stars, some ditched players earning a million dollars or more to opt for younger players on split contracts.

Those deals call for lower pay in the minors compared to the majors. Because of that and a growing role for relievers, pitchers at the bottom of the rosters go back and forth between the majors and the minors.

“We’ve been at war with our mid-tier players for the past two decades, in salary cap sports and baseball with the luxury tax and free agency,” said Bob Boland, a former class teacher at the School of Labor and Employment Relations within Penn State University.

“If you’re the players’ union, you know that the top free-agent ranks will always have value. What worries you is that there is a vibrant part in the next layer, and baseball has cut it severely. “