The MLB lockout continues on without a clear end in sight, as we near one month since team owners chose to lock out the players amid disagreements on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It has already been said that negotiations on serious issues won’t begin until January, meaning there is still plenty of time to wait.
Some of the major issues being discussed are length of time until reaching free agency, service time manipulation, competitive balance issues, and lack of fairness to small market teams. It feels like every stalemate in negotiations comes down to one of these topics.
While there are smaller issues that are being dealt with too, such as a draft lottery, expanded playoffs, and a universal designated hitter, the financial fronts cause the most friction.
In an attempt to curb some of the financial imbalance that players often feel between the top earners and the minimum-level people, MLB proposed a tiered minimum salary system, according to Ronald Blum of AP News:
MLB has proposed raising the major league minimum salary from $570,500 to a series of tiers: $600,000 for players with less than a year of big league service, $650,000 for at least one but less than two and $700,000 for at least two. Each would rise $10,000 annually, to $640,000, $690,000 and $740,000 in 2026.
Players have asked for the highest percentage minimum increase in decades: $775,000, rising to $875,000 by the final season. Both sides would raise minimums while on assignment to the minors.
Odds are, the final numbers agreed upon will be somewhere in the middle of the two negotiated figures. However, it does feel like changes are definitely coming to the minimum salary, even if it is only a small increase.
The league’s proposal is a little more detailed with the tier system. This is similar to what the NBA has, where the league minimum is a sliding scale based on how long a player has been in the league. However, NBA players with 10 or more years make more than double those in their first few seasons.
The players, meanwhile, don’t feel the need to over-complicate things, so long as minimum players receive a significant pay bump. Going from $570,500 to $775,000 would represent a near 36% increase, something owners are almost guaranteed to be averse to.
The fact that there is disagreement over a topic as seemingly small as a league minimum salary shows just how difficult these negotiations are going to be as we near Janaury.