Baseball fans have been thrown a curveball: It’s the middle of January and the top free agents in the sport, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, remain unsigned.
Others top free-agents like superstar closer Craig Kimbrel, 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, and former Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock also remain without a job as teams wait for the market, and the players’ asking prices, to drop even lower.
Even though they took in a record amount of revenue in 2018, MLB owners are holding off on offering big-ticket deals to top free agents in order to maximize their profit margins.
It’s a trend that ought to bother players — because their salaries are in relative decline — and fans who are being asked to come out to the ballpark to support teams that aren’t as good as they could be.
To help stop MLB owner’s single-minded pursuit of profit, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) needs to prepare for a work stoppage when the CBA runs out in 2021, according to The Ringer.
If the MLBPA wants to get the owners’ attention, it needs to spend the next three years building the case that players and fans are in the battle against ownership together.
“Players should spin the disparity between revenue and salary growth into a consumer issue: Revenue has grown while player wages have stayed stagnant and ticket prices have gone up,” reports The Ringer. “The league is making billions in TV and streaming revenue, but an average working-class family can’t afford season tickets anymore, and that money isn’t going to the players who fans love; it’s going right back into the wallets of anonymous billionaires.”
If the MLBPA wants the flow of cash to start going in the other direction, they’ll need to get fans on their side to support them in the event of a strike in 2021.