Tony Clark says MLBPA is ‘never going to agree’ to a salary cap: Top takeaways

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As MLB house owners proceed to say that the game’s financial system doesn’t work, Gamers Affiliation govt director Tony Clark reaffirmed Saturday that the union’s long-established stance on a salary cap has not modified.

“We’re by no means going to agree to a cap. Let me begin there,” Clark stated on the MLBPA’s not too long ago opened satellite tv for pc workplace in Arizona. “We don’t have a cap, we’re not going to agree to a cap.

“A salary cap is the final word restriction on participant worth and participant salary. We imagine in a market system. The market system has served our gamers, our groups and our recreation very nicely.”


MLB not too long ago began an financial reform committee. Commissioner Rob Manfred stated its objective is twofold: to deal with a newer concern, the altering regional sports activities community and tv distribution panorama, and an older concern, the distinction in revenues between numerous groups.

The anticipated chapter of the Bally regional sports activities networks — and now, the information that Warner Bros. Discovery needs to get out of the RSN enterprise — leaves many questions on the long run distribution of baseball video games, and the revenue golf equipment count on from the RSNs that broadcast their video games. Clark, nonetheless, stated he thinks the ache will probably be momentary.

“We predict, primarily based on the experience that we’re receiving, that over the long run, progress will nonetheless occur,” Clark stated. “Stay occasions, sports activities itself, have nonetheless carried out remarkably nicely. It’s the RSN mannequin that seems to be challenged, not fan curiosity in sporting occasions.”

In the end, then, Clark believes the financial reform committee is a automobile aimed toward reducing participant pay, and particularly, a salary cap.

“The financial reform committee is not a new thought,” Clark stated. “That they had a Blue Ribbon panel, and even an financial committee that was put collectively again in 1991. … These two specifically, and maybe even this third, primarily based on the feedback that got here out as we speak, is centered in on how finest to depress participant salaries. That’s the underlying theme there.”

Manfred instructed The Athletic final week that revenues are so disparate for the time being that it could be tough for house owners to come to an settlement on a cap.

For many years, house owners have complained about income disparity. Most workforce monetary statements, nonetheless, should not publicized. Golf equipment are routinely offered as of late for billions of {dollars}. Homeowners additionally purchase groups realizing nicely what market they’re shopping for a workforce in.

The Padres, who do not play in one of the sport’s largest markets, are working counter to the narrative different house owners paint that they can not spend extra due to their market. San Diego is projected to have the game’s third-highest payroll, almost $267 million, per Cot’s Contracts, behind solely the Mets and Yankees.

“The query that ought to be requested with reference to one workforce’s payroll versus one other, is whether or not or not that workforce is making a acutely aware resolution to have its payroll there, or whether or not it has the power to improve its payroll?” Clark stated.

“The reply is the latter, and never the previous. So on the finish of the day, significantly while you see groups in smaller markets — aka San Diego, on this occasion, as the very best instance — present a degree of engagement for his or her followers, and a degree of pleasure in being one of many seven smallest markets we’ve, it begs the query as to why they made that call, and why others aren’t. And it’s very clear from the general public feedback that the proprietor of San Diego made, that they need to compete. They’re ready to compete, are excited in regards to the workforce that they constructed there in San Diego, and it ought to be celebrated, not questioned.”

Requested if he believes the game wants financial reform, Clark stated “baseball is doing very nicely.”

“There was a lot of dialogue in 2020 in regards to the challenges that the business had,” Clark stated. “There have been a variety of positions taken suggesting that the business was in hurt’s approach, and was unlikely to come out of it for years following. And but, 2021 (league-wide) income was almost again to what it was pre-pandemic; 2022 is above what it was pre-pandemic. And so the business is doing nicely.”


It has not but been a full yr for the reason that present collective bargaining settlement, which runs by the 2026 season, was reached. (It’s so early, in actual fact, that the complete language of this CBA has not been finalized but, as the edges proceed to work by tentative agreements made final March.) Nonetheless, a number of house owners seem to be beginning a marketing campaign for the subsequent spherical of bargaining now.

“There’s no query the CBA contained a number of issues that weren’t good for the Pirates and only a few issues that had been glorious for us,” Pirates proprietor Bob Nutting instructed the Pittsburgh Put up-Gazette. “You even have to bear in mind there was no baseball going on. We had a real risk of losing the season.”

“We merely can’t be right here within the subsequent cycle,” Nutting continued. “We’ve acquired to see elementary change within the financial construction of the sport. I imagine that we’re positioned to do it — not this yr or subsequent yr however over the longer-term cycle.”

Purple Sox proprietor John Henry instructed Boston Sports activities Journal not too long ago that he “believe(s) the vast majority of players, agents and clubs dislike baseball’s economic system.”

What about a salary ground?

Gamers are open to the thought of a ground, however the league seemingly would by no means suggest a ground with out a corresponding cap.

“What we mentioned with MLB was one thing on the underside, comparable to what at the moment exists on the highest, and that was not a dialog they had been inquisitive about having,” Clark stated of the negotiations that created the present CBA. “Respect the thought of getting one thing in place that might in any other case power a workforce to spend a sure sum of money. However we’ve but to have a dialog with the league that doesn’t embrace one thing way more restrictive on the highest finish. That makes the dialog null and void to this level.”

MLB needs means to cut back minor-league rosters; non-starter for MLBPA

Bargaining between MLB and the MLBPA to create the primary CBA for minor-league gamers has been going on since November. Clark indicated there’s been progress total, however pointed to one MLB proposal that he considers a “non-starter.”

Throughout major-league CBA negotiations, MLB proposed lowering minor-league roster sizes, and the union balked then too.

“One of many quid professional quos that’s on the desk is that so as to make enhancements, the opposite facet should have the potential of slicing jobs and or extra groups down the highway,” Clark stated. “That’s not why a union will get fashioned. The precise reverse is true. And so I’m inspired by lots of the conversations which have occurred to this point. I stay optimistic that widespread floor could be discovered on a lot of the points that stay. However the thought of the league being able to minimize minor-league jobs and/or contraction, contracting groups additional — on the heels of the 40-plus groups that had been contracted a couple years in the past — is troublesome.”

MLB declined remark to The Athletic.

What if no deal by begin of season?

Clark stated that there’s a window remaining earlier than Opening Day the place a deal can get carried out. If a deal is not in place by then, a work stoppage doesn’t seem seemingly within the close to time period.

“The larger probability is that the phrases and circumstances that at the moment exist will seemingly proceed as we proceed to negotiate,” Clark stated.

The significance of arbitration to gamers

The gamers fared poorly in arbitration hearings this yr, shedding 13 of 19.

MLB would love to get rid of the method, however regardless of the battle it engenders, Clark stated Saturday it is a profit to gamers.

“Salary arb is not good,” Clark stated. “Salary arb is a system that has been fought for a very long time. If for no different cause than, it’s the one alternative that gamers have whereas below reserve to notice extra of the worth that they … have. And oftentimes the main focus is the win-loss on the finish of a salary arb season. However that by no means — whether or not it’s wins on one facet of the road, or on the opposite facet of the road — by no means tells the entire story.

“Salary arbitration itself gives a chance the place upwards of 150, 200 gamers in any given yr are arbitration-eligible, and have the chance in opposition to these rights to negotiate with the membership as to what their worth could also be — realizing that if they’ve to go earlier than a impartial arbitrator in a listening to room, they’ll do it. The salary arb system has at all times been arrange to notice settlements. All the time. That was at all times the premise. There is little doubt that the league and the groups have tried to create a narrative that undermines the integrity of what the system was designed to do.

“So is it good? No. Is the league inquisitive about eliminating it? The concept that they’re inquisitive about eliminating it ought to recommend that … it might profit gamers.

“And so transfer shifting to a components (to decide arbitration-eligible participant salaries), which was of curiosity to the league, reasonably than the present system — one through which we had been making an attempt to increase the eligibility of gamers for — is one thing that is still an vital a part of our system.”

(Picture: Alejandra Villa Loarca / Newsday through Getty Photographs)

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