The deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players not under long-term contracts this year (commonly called the “non-tender deadline”) was scheduled for Thursday, December 2.
The MLB/MLBPA collective bargaining agreement expires at 10:59 p.m. CT Wednesday, December 1.
That’s not optimal. So, players and owners made a deal:
MLB and players’ union have agreed to move tender deadline from Dec. 2 to 8pE on Nov. 30. This way, arbitration-eligible players will not be in contractual limbo. A player who gets non-tendered will have the ability to sign with a new club before lockout begins. 1/2— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 24, 2021
That sounds good, right? Players and owners actually agreed on something!
Hold on just a minute, though:
MLB, meanwhile, effectively will flood the market with more free agents who might get pressured into lesser deals after lockout ends. Some players could benefit, however. A solid contributor who gets non-tendered for financial reasons could sign with another club right away. 2/2— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 24, 2021
So, what this deal means is that on November 30, there could be dozens more free agents, players not tendered contracts by teams. As Ken Rosenthal suggests, some of those players might sign in the day and a half (or so) before a lockout begins. But more realistically, that could drive down the market.
Here is the Cubs’ 40-man roster. I don’t see anyone on it who would be non-tendered at this new deadline. There had been some talk about Ian Happ being non-tendered when he wasn’t playing well early in 2021, but his strong finish almost certainly means the Cubs will want him back.
But there could be many others who will be let go by their teams. As always, we await developments.
The other thing I want to call your attention to in relation to what is almost certainly going o be a lockout next week is this article by Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic. The headline and focus of the article is about guidance the MLBPA has given to players on what to expect if there’s a lockout.
But I think Rosenthal and Drellich buried the lede. At the end of their article, from a guide to players that the two writers were able to acquire, are four main areas that players want to focus on for the next CBA. I reproduce them here in their entirety because I think they’re important, and they are also things we will likely be hearing a lot about over the next weeks and months.
We continue to see Clubs openly choosing a model of sustained losing while still reaping economic benefit. Winning at all levels needs to have value, or our system doesn’t work.
Ensuring the most talented players are on the field
Our game is at its best when the best Players are on the field, regardless of age, experience, or service time. Clubs continue to keep the best Players off the field, simply to manipulate service time. This fundamentally damages the integrity of the sport.
Reducing artificial restraints on competition
Restrictions like the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) and Draft Pick Compensation continue to affect how Clubs compete for Players and provide convenient excuses for Clubs to justify their lack of competitiveness. These artificial drags on Player compensation must be addressed.
Getting players their value earlier in their career
For decades, our reserve system has been separated into three main groups: pre-arbitration players who make near the minimum salary; players eligible for salary arbitration; and free agents. Recent industry trends show that more and more on-field value is being created by younger players whose salaries are artificially suppressed by the reserve system. The system needs to be modernized so that players can be compensated for the value they create, WHEN THEY CREATE IT.
These things would all seem to be no-brainers for players. If done correctly, they could also make more money for owners by increasing competition among teams and potentially incentivizing contention, which would have more fans interested in watching teams that are currently “tanking.”
Owners, at least at this time, don’t seem interested in changing the current system. We’ll ses what happens. I fear it’s going to take a long time and possibly put the 2022 MLB season in jeopardy.