FanPost

The Critical CBA Issue

So we all had so much fun with my last fanpost about the CBA, let's do another one!

The critical issue between the owners and the players is how many years should the team control a player before he can become a free agent. Both sides seem to "agree" that in return for developing a player thru the minor leagues, a team get's exclusive control of the player for a set number of years. This is called "service time". Right now, the service time is 6 years on the 26 man roster (see definition by MLB here). Is this the "right" amount of time to compensate the team for $s it spent on development?

Consider that the majority of players signed out of high school or college never make it to the majors, so in theory the owner "loses" all the money spent on these players. Of the players who actually make it to the majors, most of them only play a few seasons and never make it to free agency. So in most cases a team does not get all the service time it is allowed for most of the players they sign. If you add in the "lost" $s for the players who never make it to the majors plus any lack of return once the player makes the majors, a team's "return on investment" for development can be poor.

From the player's perspective, their service time usually covers the majority of their most productive seasons of their career. For the first 3 years of ML service, they are paid either the league minimum or more if their team wants to pay them more. From years 4 thru 6 (3 seasons) they can go thru salary arbitration which can set their salary based on their performance is a uniform way across the league. Also consider that for up to 6 years after they first sign with a team, they can remain in the minors and get paid minor league wages. Also consider that since the player is tied to the team he first sign with, if that team has a poor development process for their players, the player might never fully develop to his maximum potential. The player can be stuck in a crappy organization with no recourse.

So what is "fair"? Should the amount of service time be less than the present 6 years? Should a player get to arbitration sooner? Should a player be able to become a minor league free agent sooner? Should the service time remain the same but the base pay increased? What is fair for both the teams and the players?

OR is the concept of "fair" non-sensical in the business of baseball and it's up to both the owners and the MLPA to get whatever they can thru negotiation with lockouts and strikes? If so, can a stable solution ever be achieved or are the regular contract battles just the way it has to be? Keep in mind that both sides have no real option other than negotiate with the other party. The teams need the players and the players need the league.

What are your ideas?


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