Baseball Basics for Brits review: Volume 3

BBfBThe third volume of our Baseball Basics for Brits series has now been reviewed and republished.

I always think that this is a particularly important for Brits to look at. It concerns player development and contracts and this is an area that is generally very different in MLB to what we have in most British sports.

The very fact that players normally can be shipped between teams with no say-so on their part is a complete contrast to the ‘player power’ landscape seen in football.

What goes along with this is that the contracts signed are for the player and carry across to whichever team they move to. That ensures they don’t lose out financially if they get traded from one of the giants of baseball to a minnow, but also means that a player at a smaller club can’t really force their way out to sign a more lucrative deal elsewhere.

A few of the key things to pick out are:

  1. One of the main updates in this version is taking into account the current ‘draft pool’ money that is given to each team. It’s been a goal of MLB owners to reduce money being spent on drafted players and – rightly or wrongly – the Players’ Union that represents MLB players has seemed more prepared to compromise on this area as it doesn’t directly affect current MLB players (although clearly affects future ones).
  2. Alongside this, the Players’ Union doesn’t actively represent players in the Minor Leagues (again, even though pretty much all MLB players come through the Minors). Minor League salaries are extremely low compared to MLB salaries and this is an ongoing issue that is becoming all the more noticeable whilst MLB trumpets the historic amounts of money that it generates.
  3. Finally, I’ve added in a case study of Jason Heyward to show how a player’s earning power changes as they move through the standard initial six-year MLB contract and then into free agency.

In reviewing the text, I was mindful that all of the contractual rules covered here – alongside everything else in MLB – come out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between MLB (the 30 teams) and the Players’ Union. The current CBA expires at the end of this year and ideas around potential changes are already being thought about, so this is likely to be revised again in a year’s time.

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