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We have seen a proposal like the owners’ pay for Fangraphs WAR before

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You will not be surprised to learn who was behind it.

Al Yellon

ESPN’s Jeff Passan posted an article Friday morning (ESPN+ subscription required) with more details on the owners’ proposal regarding how pay for players prior to free agency would be calculated:

Players with less than six years of service would be paid based on a formula agreed upon by both sides. For purposes of the presentation, the league chose wins above replacement as calculated by FanGraphs. A player with more than three years would multiply his career fWAR by $580,000, and the resulting number would be his salary that season. The multiplier for a second-time eligible player would be $770,000, and a third-time player would receive $910,000 for each fWAR gathered in all his big league time. There would be slight adjustments to salaries based on how the player fared in the previous season, but generally the system would pay players based on the fWAR formula.

As you can imagine, this proposal would likely cut player salaries from what they now are through the arbitration system that currently covers players from three through five years of service (and occasionally a sixth, as we saw in the case of Kris Bryant). This proposed system would be easy for teams to manipulate playing time to cut down fWAR numbers and would almost certainly be a non-starter for players.

MLB has gone through eight work stoppages, the last in 1994-95. Of the eight, three were owner lockouts, the last in 1990. That one cancelled almost all of spring training, although they did manage to get the entire 162-game season in, pushed back a week from its original starting date.

That lockout began after the previous labor agreement expired December 31, 1989. There was a “Pay For Performance” proposal very similar to the current “Pay For Fangraphs WAR” made at that time:

“Other reports credited the authorship of PFP to PRC lawyer Rob Manfred, Mets executive Frank Cashen, and Brewers executive Harry Dalton.” (PRC stood for “Player Relations Committee.”)

Thirty-two years ago. That’s how long a proposal like this has been on Rob Manfred’s mind. And now he’s Commissioner.

Tell me all you want about how Rob Manfred loves baseball, but what he clearly loves is trying to squeeze players out of as much salary as possible. If he’s not stopped, he’s going to preside over the destruction of Major League Baseball.

As always, we await developments.