Rosenthal: Inside the frayed relations that could have MLB owners and players ‘walking off a cliff together’

From SABR member Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic on January 29, 2019:

Baseball’s labor agreement does not expire for nearly three years. Yet such is the tension between the players and owners, the threat of the sport’s first work stoppage since 1994-95 is palpable.


*Before each round of collective bargaining, the players empower their union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, to withhold a portion of the annual money they receive from licensing, putting it aside for a possible strike fund. The amounts generally rise as the end of a labor agreement draws near, but the players already have taken the unusual step of authorizing the union to withhold their entire checks, reflecting their increased urgency.

*Earlier this month, at baseball’s Rookie Career Development Program in Miami, union chief Tony Clark spoke to approximately 100 prospects at greater length than in previous years, explaining that recent difficulties in labor relations bear some similarity to past problems that led to stoppages. A number of the young players demonstrated a heightened awareness by raising specific concerns about service-time manipulation – keeping a top prospect in the minors to assure an extra year of control.

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Originally published: January 30, 2019. Last Updated: January 30, 2019.