The lockout continues. CBS Sports says there are four things fans should know as the new year begins:
- 1. Talks should get serious in January
“owners and the union before the new year were set to discuss matters of relatively lesser importance. That’s notable because at the very least discussions took place…”
- 2. Those ‘core economics’ are complicated
“…the average player salary has declined in the face of ever-soaring franchise values, the union wants to remake the economic structure of the game. The players’ wish list is too expansive to be addressed in a single CBA negotiation, but you should expect that their energies will be focused on getting young players paid more and paid sooner.
Younger players in terms of on-field value are, as a group, better than older players, but the antiquated salary structure, which is driven by tenure rather than capability, doesn’t reflect that. Right now, almost all players are entitled to no more than the major-league minimum until they have three years of MLB service time, at which point they become eligible for arbitration. To put a damning point on it, AL MVP finalist Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made just $605,400 this season (compared to the current minimum salary of $570,500), which means he was underpaid relative to his production by tens of millions of dollars.
- 3. The players may have some leverage for the time being
Negotiations leading up to the COVID-shortened 2020 season served to galvanize the players, and the mass of signings leading up to the owner lockout means less uncertainty for several high-profile free agents. All of that, in turn, makes it less likely that there will be divisions within the ranks of players. Beyond those factors, veteran players like union rep Max Scherzer sound fully committed to fighting for the rights of younger and less tenured players during these negotiations. That means fewer class schisms that management can exploit.
- 4. Time will soon be running short
Should we get into the second week of February or thereabouts without a deal, then the possibility of a compromised spring training becomes a concern. This again plays into the leverage that players may have right now. Spring training games at sites in Arizona and Florida have become a profit center for teams, and they don’t want to lose those games. Players, meantime, don’t start getting checks until the regular season begins. So the prospect of a shortened spring training figures to increase pressure on the league side to get a deal done.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers pulled off a rather unusual signing this weekend
Taking a swing at improving their middle infield, the Dodgers have signed Eddy Alvarez, known as a Miami Marlins Quad-A prospect … but more prominently known as a USA Baseball silver medalist and a decorated speed skater from the 2014 Sochi games.
Alvarez also got his most extended big-league run with the Marlins during the 2021 season, too.
In 24 games, split between third and second base, Alvarez hit .188 while cracking his first home run at the MLB level. He doesn’t offer much on the defensive end, grading out as below-average at third, the spot he spent the majority of his reps.
Just getting to the big leagues is nothing to sneeze at, of course. Getting to the big leagues after winning silver on the rink? Now that’s really something.
No need to treat this as some sort of token reward, though. Alvarez mashed at the minor-league level last season, posting an .865 OPS in 31 games at Triple-A (.423 OBP). He earned his keep, and will now be getting a fresh chance in one of baseball’s model organizations.