Ed note: I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of news that isn’t covered here but I’m going to do the best I can while still getting to sleep at a somewhat sane hour.
Second Disclaimer: People who don’t like the embedded Tweets - sorry in advance, because a lot of the news from yesterday broke in that format.
Baseball is back! Those words are echoing throughout the social media-verse.
Owners have ratified the new collective-bargaining agreement, a source tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 10, 2022
Baseball is officially back.
Quick format note: Royals news and blogs are getting bumped a little today. Apologies to Royals blogs - you’re getting moved out of your usual place of honor because of the magnitude of the CBA news. I hope there are no hard feelings - you know I love you guys and you have keep putting out great content all throughout the work stoppage. It’s just that not talking about the CBA feels like burying the lede. (Though I am squeezing you ahead of the “official” Royals outlets).
Speaking of Passan, let’s just go with his story about the lockout being over.
Aside: in case you missed it, on the biggest MLB news day of the year, someone hacked Jeff Passan’s account and was trying to sell NFTs to his 800K followers. That’s why there were tweets like this yesterday:
And he was giving me crap for my picture taking in Jupiter. Try changing your password from IAMTHEGREATEST— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) March 10, 2022
Jay Jaffe at Fangraphs picks the new CBA apart in detail.
This is so frustrating because MLB brought a ton of bad PR on themselves, delaying for 2 weeks to try and break the union.
Just a reminder where we stood right before the Manfred and the owners cancelled Opening Day:
MLB's best-and-final offer:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 1, 2022
- No changes to CBT thresholds (220/220/220/224/230)
- A $5M increase on pre-arb bonus pool from $25M to $30M
- An increase of minimums from $675K to $700K, moving up $10K/year
The MLBPA's previous offer:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 1, 2022
- CBT thresholds at 238/244/250/256/263
- Pre-arb bonus pool at $85M with $5M annual increases
- Minimums at $725K going up $20K a year
Splitting the difference ends up with 229/232/235/240/247M, pool of about $50M, and minimums of $721K going up $12K per year. What did we end up with? 230/233/237/241/244M, $50M, and $700K going up $20K per year. They split the difference across the board. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE TWO WEEKS AGO. MY SIX YEAR OLD CAN DO THIS MATH. Baseball is back and no games were lost... it’s ok... sigh. All I’m saying is that if the owners had offered it as their “last best offer” two weeks ago, it would have been accepted by the union and a lot of this acrimony could have been avoided. It may have even been seen as an olive branch to start rebuilding the relationship. Instead, it took 2 weeks of the union not breaking and a threat to the owners RSN money to get to what they could have done over those 7(?) days in Jupiter.
Here’s the details on that pre-arby bonus pool:
Details on the new pre-arb bonus pool payouts:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 11, 2022
MVP/Cy Young winners get $2.5M
MVP/Cy 2nd place gets $1.75M
3rd place gets $1.5M
4th/5th gets $1M
ROY gets $750,000
ROY 2nd place gets $500
All-MLB 1st team gets $1M
All-MLB 2nd team gets $500,000
Rest of pool $ is based on WAR
To address service time manipulation, there’s some lol stuff about teams receiving compensation draft picks if their players finish at the top couple of ROY, MVP, and Cy Young vote receiving. Also, top 2 ROY vote getters will get a full season of service time no matter when they were brought up. I can’t think that would move the needle much. Would you rather have a full extra season of Bobby Witt Jr. or 6 weeks in 2022 and a small chance at some compensatory pick?
Also, there’s going to be a 6 team draft lottery. It’ll give MLB a draft lottery show they can put on MLB Network or ESPN. Honestly, I don’t see these things moving the needle much around the issues of service time manipulation or tanking. But maybe they set the stage for it to happen in a future CBA when players can lobby for voting rewards that are more lucrative or tanking penalties that are harsher.
How about expanded playoffs? The players and owners compromised at 12 teams. I say compromised as the owners proposed 14 while the players initially wanted no change so the move to 12 was one of the bigger early moves (along with backing off changing 6 year free agency). Quick reminder as to why the players would be opposed:
Here's the basic problem with expanded playoffs.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) January 31, 2021
If the owners offered 100% of the revenue from the new playoff round(s) to the players, I still don't think it's actually a good deal for the players.
Making World Series championships more random is AWFUL for salaries.
Six teams from each league will now qualify for the playoffs. The top two division winners will get byes while the worst division winner plays the third Wild Card. The other two Wild Card teams will play each other.
Just a reminder: once Tampa and Oakland sort out their stadium situation, MLB is going to expand to 32 teams. So all of this stuff will be right back on the table then. I’m sure MLB will try to expand the playoffs to 14 teams (blech) and things like the below will be subject to change again.
The MLBPA had some interest in the Asian model I had talked about in the past. I think that giving playoff wins to teams that have better records in the regular season is a good way to build back some of the importance of winning in the regular season. Maybe we’ll see that if the playoffs expand further:
There is no “ghost win” involved. The Players Association had previously floated the possibility of division winners starting with a one-game advantage in any first-round set against a Wild Card club. MLB opposed that idea, and it didn’t make it into the final agreement. The union’s push for a “ghost win” seemed more rooted in concerns about a potential 14-team format than with the 12-team arrangement, though.
Sadly, this means the Wild Card game is no more.
RIP to the Wild Card Game, which was the best change to Major League Baseball in the last decade. The only saving grace is that this will forever remain the greatest Wild Card Game ever played: pic.twitter.com/5UqZCsnAOs— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) March 10, 2022
Some details emerging on how the expanded playoffs will work:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 10, 2022
* No more Game 163 tiebreakers. All playoff spots will be determined through NFL-type tiebreaker formulas.
* No re-seeding for the LDS. 1st seed plays winner of 4 vs. 5 Wild Card Series. 2nd seed plays 3 vs 6 winner.
H/T to Will work for playoff wins for pointing me at this one as I hadn’t seen it yet.
One interesting nugget in the new agreement: Starting in 2023, the schedule will feature fewer divisional games, and every team will play at least one series against every other opponent, including in the other league. The exact format is still being determined.— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) March 10, 2022
I guess that’s ok? I know some of the shine had worn off of interleague and it’s barely a novelty at this point but I kindof liked the artificial scarcity of Kansas City playing host to, say, the Padres only once ever six years. Like the playoffs, this is going to get completely scrambled in a few years anyway.
Remember Wednesday night’s poison pill, the International Draft?
The parties have until July 25 to reach a deal on an international draft starting in 2024. Draft pick compensation will be removed if the parties reach a negotiated agreement on an international draft by July 25— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 10, 2022
Time to run through the rest of the changes quickly.
- The universal DH was already agreed upon. Then again, so was the removal of draft pick compensation... until it wasn’t (note the date below):
Manfred: "We've agreed to a universal designated hitter and eliminated draft pick compensation."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 10, 2022
- MLB has a 45-day window to implement rule changes. I don’t really like them tinkering with the game in-season. I liked one year or 6 months or there is some time in the offseason or a committee that can explore these things. The committee is slanted with “four active players, six members appointed by MLB and one umpire”. So, unless I’m mistaken - that means MLB will always have a majority. The game needs to adapt and some changes are necessary, but we’ll see if they are the right ones. In theory, some have already been agreed upon for 2023:
MLB & MLBPA agreed to ban shifts, implement a pitch clock & make the bases larger in 2023, per @JonHeyman pic.twitter.com/06YTlai8Qa— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 7, 2022
- Fortunately, we’re also getting back to reasonable extra inning rules:
Traditional baseball is also back:— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 10, 2022
No more ghost runners in extra innings.
No more 7-inning doubleheaders
- Teams can only option a player 5 times per season. That was getting to be a real joke with 40-man roster manipulation and some poor players not even making league minimum were being shuttled back and forth many times per season.
- Player uniforms and helmets will get advertising on them. Boo, but it was coming. In the NBA, the modest patches aren’t that noticeable. It’s not like soccer or NASCAR where the sponsor is more obvious than the team or driver. Meanwhile, players have much more expanded access to partnering with
- Reporters will be allowed back in MLB clubhouses after a 2 year pause due to COVID.
- Round 2 of the offseason with free agency and trades will begin in earnest as the roster freezes are over.
Of course, this couldn’t happen without the owners trying to screw one or two more things out of the players.
MLB also requests in offer that union 2020 Covid lawsuit be dropped.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 10, 2022
Union expected to vote soon on MLB offer. Initial read: “Very promising except they want (2018) lawsuit dropped.” (MLB apparently included request for union to drop its lawsuit vs Marlins, Rays, A’s, Pirates)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 10, 2022
Remember those times we screwed you before? We’d like you to forget those. In the end, the 2020 grievance was dropped but the 2018 was not.
That segues us to the incomparable Dan Szymborski (Szymborski! Szymborski!), who will finish off this section. Unroll the thread to get it all - it’s only 8 tweets and gets at the heart of this negotiation and Manfred’s role in it. In short, if you want to build a partnership, stop trying to screw people for every last dollar, otherwise expect them to treat you as an adversary.
Manfred talks a big game about wanting a better relationship with players and being better partners.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) March 11, 2022
You know where it begins? Treating people you want to consider you a partner as you would a partner. And sometimes, working with partners meant not using every bit of leverage.
Onto the Royals news. Heck, this one mixes Royals official news sources and Royals blogs.
I said I’d do blogs first and this story is from The Star, but it’s about current Royals blogger and current Royals Review masthead writer David Lesky. It all started when he tweeted this:
Maybe I’m way off here but I don’t think MLB would ever accept an offer from the MLBPA. They want to have the upper hand. They want their offer accepted or denied.— David Lesky (@DBLesky) March 9, 2022
It was liked by Mets owner Steve Cohen. Who, through the media says:
I texted with Steve Cohen who said his like of a tweet that was critical of MLB's negotiating style was "totally unintentional." Said he does not even know how to retweet. #Mets— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 9, 2022
And then Tweets:
That was unintentional, must have hit by accident— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) March 9, 2022
As Grathoff said in The Star:
One could believe Cohen didn’t mean to like the tweet if, say, he followed Lesky on Twitter. But, unsurprisingly, that’s not the case. “I’m super curious how he even saw the tweet,” Lesky said. “It didn’t mention his name and it wasn’t retweeted by anyone big yet.
Speaking of Lesky, he has “4 Storylines for Royals Spring Training” including:
I wrote about this a few weeks ago and without having seen any action on the field, there still obviously isn’t clarity, but this is the biggest battle we’ll see throughout the spring that has a big impact on the actual team. Ignoring first base for a second, the Royals have five candidates to play three spots. You’ve got Nicky Lopez, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Emmanuel Rivera and some kid named Bobby Witt Jr. I guess you can include Hunter Dozier in there, but I think his third base days outside of a game here or there are pretty much done.
Kevin O’Brien, The Royals Reporter, has his upcoming season primer:
While Sherman has for the most part been a solid citizen who is committed to keeping the club in Kansas City and helping the local economy in the KC Metro in a variety of ways (including charitable), he also will be facing a lot of disgruntled season ticket holders and on-the-fence Kansas City sports fans who may be more encouraged to spend their money elsewhere this summer.
Furthermore, Sherman has hopes long-term for a downtown stadium, and he wants some public help for it in order to make it a reality. Well, this lockout certainly didn’t help his case, especially with so many Royals fans being on the fence about a new stadium anyway, especially after it was renovated in 2009.
Mike Gillespie at KOK also has his “Here’s what you need to know” post.
Finally, I don’t know if he’s going to keep this up, but a reminder that Darin Watson at U.L’s Toothpick is going day-by-day through the 1977 Royals.
Just a reminder:
Our minor league game against the Rangers tomorrow at Surprise Stadium will be open to the public. First pitch is at 1PM MT. Let’s play ball! pic.twitter.com/tgTKoYnLb5— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) March 11, 2022
Ready for your post-lockout Alec Lewis?
It's over, so here we go: What's next for the Kansas City Royals?https://t.co/4ynTxmour0— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 10, 2022
Want to learn more about Will Klein? Anne Rogers has you covered:
He used technology like Trackman and Edgertronic to track release, spin, movement profiles and more on the pitch while also trying to repeat it every time he threw. “I’d find a grip and it moved well, and the next day would come and I couldn’t replicate it, so that didn’t work,” Klein said. “And then I’d try a new grip, it would look right to the naked eye, and then you’d look at the movement and how it’s coming out, and that wouldn’t be right. It took awhile, probably until a week or two before I came here, before we found the one I’m using now that I can repeat consistently and it has good movement profiles. And I can throw it for strikes.
Sorry to leave this one for last as it’s a good one but Lynn Worthy profiles two Kansas City area prospects who are in camp right now and have fond memories of going to Royals playoff games:
“The best way to describe it is a dream come true, growing up in Kansas City, going to Royals games as a kid, having those be some of the best memories I have with my family, my friends,” Jensen said following a recent workout at the Royals spring training facility in Arizona. Kudrna and Jensen both played on the Royals Scout Team, a grassroots program for select players run under the umbrella of the Royals scouting department and the Urban Youth Academy.
Good news, all! Opening Day is just a few short weeks away (April 7th)!
In celebration, have some NES Baseball: