The MLBPA has filed an official complaint with Commissioner Rob Manfred citing concerns that the Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates are in potential violation of the league’s revenue-sharing agreement; with both teams having actively worked to reduce their payrolls this offseason. While the league’s CBA does not include a salary cap nor minimum teams must spend on on-field talent, it does include provisions that require recipients to use shared proceeds (each franchise pays 31% of local revenues into a fund that is then distributed evenly amongst the teams) towards the betterment of their franchises. The league “does not have concerns” regarding compliance with the agreement and does not intend on filing a grievance against either team. They argue the Pirates have “steadily increased their payroll over the years” and “decreased their revenue sharing” take; while noting the Marlins new ownership group acquired a franchise that “incurred substantial financial losses the prior two seasons” and will lose money in 2018, despite a reduced payroll and the shared revenue.
Howie Long-Short: The Marlins and Pirates are the most obvious offenders, but decreased spending is trending league-wide. While some allege collusion (though no hard evidence exists), it seems evident that the competitive balance threshold (CBT) is being used as a soft cap; both Dodgers and Yankees officials have acknowledged they would have spent more this offseason had the CBT been higher. To fully comprehend why baseball’s middle class is being financially squeezed, you must also consider that an estimated 1/3 of the league has no intention of competing for 2018 World Series (i.e. rebuilding); further reducing the potential pool of free agent dollars available.
Fan Marino: 100+ free agents remain unsigned including stars Eric Hosmer, Yu Darvish and Jake Arreita; so, Dodgers Closer Kenley Jansen verbalized what a lot of other players are likely thinking, “maybe we have to go on strike.” The league hasn’t had a work stoppage since the ’94 season and the owners will look to avoid a strike at all costs (it took McGuire/Sosa chasing Maris for the fans to return); with one league executive indicating they may even be willing to issue financial concessions to the union prior to the expiration of the current deal (December ’21), in exchange for long-term labor peace. That’s probably a good idea; no slugger has hit more than 60 home runs since ’01.