Word of various potential changes in the MLB-MLBPA collective bargaining agreement has been trickling out of late, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a series of new matters under consideration. In particular, she looks at discussions involving the cash flow to the Athletics.
Revenue sharing is the key topic of interest for Oakland, which has been allowed to participate in the system despite its large-market status because of its inability to find a new ballpark. The O.Co coliseum has allowed the team to continue receiving funds, which Slusser pegs at $34MM in 2016.
Some around the game — including rival teams and the union — believe that the A’s aren’t putting those funds to use as intended. Reduction or even elimination of Oakland’s participation has “definitely been a topic” of discussion, a union source tells Slusser.
The interplay with the longstanding stadium question is complicated, as the report details. There’s a concern in some quarters not only that the club isn’t funneling enough cash into player salaries, but also that the team has been slow to settle its ballpark situation. (Of course, there’s a counter-argument to be found as well.)
If the team ultimately has its revenue-sharing pipeline narrowed, with a resulting hit to profitability, sources tell Slusser that there could be ownership changes. That might involve a minority owner leaving or even a full-on sale of the organization, she suggests.
There are a variety of other possible changes being discussed that could have even wider-ranging impact, per the report. That includes the possibility of trimming the regular season down to 154 games and inserting more off-days.
Even more intriguingly, perhaps, there’s apparently at least some consideration being given to expanding rosters from 25 to 26 players. That would certainly reduce the need to utilize the 15-day DL, increase teams’ flexibility to carry more specialty players, and perhaps add to the frequency of reliever usage during the regular season. It would also seem likely to enhance the value of somewhat marginal roster pieces (lefty specialists, power bench bats, glove-first players) who might otherwise be without a spot, while perhaps increasing the viability of the Rule 5 draft and opening service-time opportunities for less-developed players who’d otherwise be left playing in the upper minors.
MLBTR contributor Ryan Spilborghs recently advocated for several such provisions, reasoning that both teams and players could benefit. The current grind is arguably too great, leading to injuries (and rushed returns) that can harm players’ earning capacities as well as the investments already made by organizations.