The Collective Bargaining Agreement runs out on December 1. This is my proposal on how to improve the game and avoid a lockout. I’d like to mention that an addition of more playoff teams would only hurt the game. Owners don’t seem to realize that it will cost them money if a good team gets eliminated early because of bad luck in an extra playoff round, as they lose money from the playoff games that they would have had instead. Less playoff teams also makes regular season games more important and so increases attendance. The more playoff teams that there are, the less important regular season games become.
It’s important to start off with the understanding that the players and the owners need each other, and that they have a common goal of making the game and themselves more profitable. There also must be a trade-off. The players deserve to be fairly compensated and owners deserve to have more certainty with large contracts. That certainty is good for the players too, as that way more large contracts are likely to be given out. There’s also the issue of teams losing homegrown players too easily, there needs to be more of a benefit for players to stay with their pre-free agency teams, without having their salaries negatively affected.
Let’s start with players no longer being underpaid while under pre-free agency team control. There should be arbitration for every season upon a promotion to the Majors. Teams should also be required to promote players to the next level (A to AA etc.) upon a top 20% in their league performance at a minor league level the previous season. Failure to do so should force the team to place the player on waivers.
After 4 seasons, a player should enter restricted free agency, where if his current team matches his highest offer from a different team, he has to re-sign. This gives the player a chance at early free agency in exchange for his team having a better chance at keeping him during it. Moreso, if the total value of the contract exceeds $100 million, the signing team will have to give up a top prospect of the other team’s choice. The player can forego restricted free agency and instead wait 2 more years to become an unrestricted free agent. The prospect rule from unrestricted free agency replaces the qualifying offer. There could also be a rule where re-signing a homegrown player (drafted or signed internationally as a prospect and developed) doesn’t affect the luxury tax, with either 50% of the total contract or the entire contract not counted.
Early free agency and fair pay are fair for the players, but it should come with fairness back for the owners. Teams should be able to void contracts where a player misses at least a third of the season due to injury, or suffers a drastic drop in performance. The minimums for the latter should be: 400 AB’s (hitters), 20 starts (starting pitchers) or 30 innings (relief pitchers).
A draft lottery for non-playoff teams with no advantages for teams with worse records, should replace the current draft order system. This should discourage teams from so-called “tanking”. Speaking of general improvements, efforts should be made to make the games go by faster, as it would help with making the game more popular. Everything that needlessly slows up the game should be removed. I recommend creating a committee to deal with this serious issue.
The main additions should be fair pay for the players and help for owners in avoiding bad contracts and losing homegrown players. I believe that working together to implement those changes would improve the game and increase profits.
Let me know what you think in the comments.