There’s a bevy of contentious topics that the players’ union and the MLB need to resolve in the new CBA. A big topic is increasing compensation for younger players to counteract the practice of not signing mid-tier free agents.
Former Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer elaborated on the MLBPA’s goals for younger players in an interview with the LA Times Jorge Castillo.
“Teams have shown that they’re not willing to pay for players’ past production for a whole slew of reasons. And if that’s the case, that’s the case. But if we’re going to look at players that way, then we need to then allocate more money to players earlier in their career. We’re seeing that happen more than ever now, of front offices chiding away middle-class free agents…a solution must be found to balance it.”
MLB Front Offices ‘Leveraging’ Players’ Desires
Scherzer outlined another practice that has become more common: MLB front offices proposing contract extensions to players before they ever play an inning in the majors.
Essentially, MLB teams “buy-out” the remaining years of team control in the hopes that they can retain the player long-term well below market rate. This happens well before the player ever has a chance to hit the open market as a free agent. Recently we’ve seen this practice with young stars like Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays and Ozzie Albies of the Atlanta Braves.
Scherzer characterized the practice as predatory.
“They’re told take the extension and you will be in the big leagues tomorrow but if you don’t sign it you will stay in the minor leagues. Playing in the big leagues is everyone’s dream, and teams are now leveraging that desire to gain financial control over a player’s career.”
Scherzer’s insights are noteworthy since he, along with seven other players, is a member of the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee.
The subcommittee and the entire union are fighting for many things. More financial protection for younger players is right near the top of the batting order. Still, as it stands, MLB and the union are far apart on these core economics and have no renewed discussions on schedule at this time.