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MLBPA shuts down proposal for multiyear contract deadline

MLB, MLBPA

The 2018-19 MLB free agency was supposed to be one of the most exciting periods in league history.

Two of the brightest young stars in baseball–Manny Machado and Bryce Harper–were hitting the open market, and the assumption is that both megastars would see record-breaking money.

Instead, baseball fans had to wait and wait for months on end before either player was signed. This seemed to coincide with a growing split between team executives and players over terms of contracts, especially with respect to long-term deals.

The Commissioner’s Office tried to bridge that gap. The league proposed a hypothetical deadline for all multiyear contracts to be resolved by the end of Winter Meetings.

However, the MLBPA shot down the proposal, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

The league posited that the economic effects of a deadline could be alternately inflationary or deflationary: a bidding frenzy could occur one winter, and perhaps not another. MLB had a willingness to try the system on a one-year basis only. But the union saw a downside where the leverage of a deadline would create take-it-over-leave-it propositions, a game of musical chairs forcing players into lesser deals.

The league, in short, was trying to position this change as something that would not materially effect economic standing, merely timing. The union did not buy that vision.

Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon are a couple of players likely to receive massive multiyear deals, with Stephen Strasburg joining them if he opts out of his current contract with the Washington Nationals.

Free agency has been a point of contention for some time, and it could be the main sticking point that leads to a potential strike when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement ends in December of 2021.