Milwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich is looking to have a bounce-back season after struggling at the plate over the past two seasons.
First, there needs to be a 2022 season for that to happen.
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are dug in on a labor fight. The owners have locked out the players.
Yelich wants his union and the league to resolve the labor dispute and get back to baseball.
Congress right now has a better chance of working together and getting an agreement than the MLB owners and players.
Both sides had their first meeting yesterday since December 2, 2021. That is right, both sides let two holidays go by and waited 13 more days into 2022 before deciding to sit down and talk.
The discussions did not go well.
Why was the player’s reaction not so positive? Well, the owners did not give a great offer–again.
The owners claim the first offer was to get the ball rolling.
The players reaction to the owners did not exactly get the ball rolling but was more like a pop out to the catcher.
What is the hold up for these two sides after enjoying such labor peace?
It appears that the main issue is not the labor disagreements that need to be worked out, but rather the issue of trust and negotiation tactics
Chicago Cubs union representative Ian Happ made some great points on this issue when the owners and players met in early December.
“One of the most disappointing parts about the trip to Dallas … is the owners didn’t make one economic proposal the entire time we were there,” Happ said, adding that players brought an economic proposal the second day of those meetings that “looped in” some of the non-economic issues owners had proposed the day before — including draft details and expanded playoffs.
“And we didn’t get anything back,” he said. “We didn’t get anything that said, ‘OK, here’s our proposal in the same realm; here’s how we get to a conclusion and move forward.’
“Without having that — anybody who’s been through a negotiation, whether it’s a car or a house or anything — you don’t just keep giving numbers and have the other person say no,” he added. “You don’t just keep moving off your position.
“That’s a horrible way to negotiate. We’re just disappointed that there was no economic proposal brought forth by that side in Dallas.”
The other main problem Happ argued is the players want teams to stop tanking for better draft picks. They also want the tanking to stop so some teams stop using that as an excuse to not spend money on players.
“The big thing for players, the big thing we’re discussing, is a way to make the system more competitive, a way to do away with service-time manipulation, to have penalties for manipulating service time so that fans are getting to see the best players in the league as soon as they’re ready,” he added, “so that teams are competing all the way throughout the season, so that teams are trying to win games in August and September instead of a race to the bottom to get draft picks. So that teams are trading for good players at the deadline, teams are going out and competing in free agency to put good team out there and not losing three, four, five seasons in a row.
The players face an uphill battle on the stop-the-tank front. The Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, and even the Chicago White Sox tanking model show the best way to win a World Series or compete for the playoffs long term is acquire young, elite, and cheap talent.
Plus, taking a few seasons off allows owners to save or recoup some money, so what is the incentive to spend to be good right away unless the players give some major concessions?
If Yelich wants both sides to figure things out, he needs to look no further than Brewers owner Mark Attanasio.
Although, lockout rules prevent Yelich and Attanasio from speaking. Attanasio sits on MLB’s labor policy committee. He is in the negotiating room.
It is been hard to get a handle on where he stands in the labor economic issues. Is he one of the owners driving for conquering the union or is he one of the owners looking for comprise to get baseball started on time?
He owns a team in one of MLB’s smallest markets. His team succeeds based on MLB’s service time and using arbitration to either have lower costs on his best talent than what they would get in free agency. Also, his team has benefited from not paying players through the current service time rules by non-tendering players. He once argued baseball needed a hard salary cap.
He also did say if certain teams overspend, they may take on too much debt. At some point, player labor costs will have to be cut back on.
“Franchises get into trouble when they overspend and end up with a mountain of debt and then you go into a long period of rebuild.”
Then again, could Attanasio be the owner to help rebuild the trust?
He has been one of the few owners over the past couple seasons that has not tanked to be competitive. The Milwaukee Brewers were supposed to tank after the 2015 season. It was supposed to be a long rebuild.
The tanking did not last long. One season to be exact.
Former general manager, Doug Melvin, and current general manager, David Stearns made such good trades, draft picks, and free-agent signings the Brewers were competitive again in 2017.
Their moves allowed the Milwaukee Brewers to make the playoffs for the last four consecutive seasons. Attanasio handed Yelich the richest contract in team history.
Then again, the Brewers’ revenue resources are constrained. There is only so much Stearns can spend and that is why the Milwaukee Brewers have fallen short the past four years in the postseason.
Attanasio could be that owner who can rebuild the trust with the players. He can give the perspective that a team can spend to win but it does not mean the owner needs to spend his or her entire personal fortune to get there–if you are thinking billionaires and multi-millionaires are going to do that, then you got another thing coming.
Then again, the majority of the owners need to stop being adverse to spending. The team with the best balance sheet does not get the Commissioners trophy. It is the team with the best collection of talent that usually does.
It is time for the owners to make a better offer to the talent and start figuring this out.