When MLB presented its best and final offer to the Players Association, it was immediately rejected. The union felt that the luxury tax increase to $220 million — from the league’s most recent $214 million offer — was insulting, and did not match the sport’s growing revenues.
However, it was later reported that four MLB owners were even against the raise to $220 million, calling it too generous of an offer. And after some deeper digging, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno was revealed to be one of those four that voted against it.
The rumor was reported late Thursday night, with Moreno being named as one of the biggest hard-liners against any increases to the CBT threshold, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
Four Major League Baseball owners — Bob Castellini of the Reds, Chris Ilitch of the Tigers, Ken Kendrick of the Diamondbacks and Arte Moreno of the Angels — objected to raising the competitive balance tax to the levels the league ultimately proposed most recently, three people briefed on an owner-wide call held this week told The Athletic. MLB moved forward with the proposal anyway, moving its offer on the first threshold to $220 million — up $10 million from where it was in 2021, and $6 million from its previous offer, but still far below the players’ ask of $238 million.
Fans of the Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Angels are right to feel disappointed in their ownership. To object to an already weak offer shows a complete unwillingness to compromise and to put their teams in the best place to succeed.
For Moreno, this is somewhat surprising. The Angels routinely rank towards the top for team payroll, and Moreno has never shied away from spending on his team. Perhaps his concern is the same of the other three owners.
In bargaining, owners have used the Mets, and their relatively new owner Steve Cohen, and the Dodgers as examples of teams they’re worried about outspending the competition, sources said.
In 2021, the Angels had the seventh-highest payroll in MLB, totaling $180.3 million. However, it’s possible that Moreno has no interest in spending more than that, and a higher CBT threshold could mean teams outspending him without penalty.
For 2022 — an incomplete ranking — the Angels are currently eighth in payroll, spending $161.3 million. Under the former CBA, the New York Mets and L.A. Dodgers would be forced to spend luxury tax. But if the players had their wish of a $238 million threshold, both teams would escape tax altogether.
If the CBT threshold became $238 million, the Mets, Dodgers, and other teams would feel comfortable spending even more than they already do. If Moreno is dead set on approximately $180 million as his budget, it’s easy to see why he would be against teams spending up to $238 million unpunished.
Regardless, that’s no excuse for being one of just four owners attempting to veto an incredibly weak offer. Angels fans and players could easily view this as a lack of commitment to the team, and they’d be in the right to do so.
Jared Walsh thinking big picture in negotiations
While game cancellations are certainly a sign of failure in CBA talks, Angels union representative Jared Walsh sees things in a different light. He believes that the players are thinking big picture, and that agreeing to a bad deal just to avoid cancelled games would be disastrous for the future of the MLBPA.