Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement ended without a deal on Wednesday night. That means a lockout that halts all transactions and a job will be put on hold until the league and players come to an agreement for 2022.
The free agency hot stove was heating up before this CBA ended, but the Oakland AK’s — who are expected to cut payroll, liquidate their roster and sell their most valuable asset for parts — made no splash. But the trigger is not pulled.
A handful of sticking points to be determined in CBA negotiations could not only hit a crucial off-season for the A this year, but throw a wrench in their tried-and-true methods for roster building on a tight budget. Huh.
Activity stops and a new manager is hired
While major league player transactions will be at a standstill, A may still appoint a new manager during the lockdown. As longtime manager Bob Melvin moved to San Diego to manage the Padres, the A’s search for a new captain has begun. While the search may continue, the official hire of the A may not happen until the CBA is resolved and the organization has a clear sense of direction from the league.
They can also sign minor league deals. The A’s dug up some of their best finds on minor league deals—so they can get pretty busy underwater while the baseball world is still up.
The lockdown has meant that players in rehab are not allowed to work or receive treatment at team facilities. So Ramon Loreno — who had core surgery in September during his 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs — can’t get treatment at the A’s facility or a team facility in Arizona.
Salary Floor and CBT Threshold
The talk reportedly aims to add a pay floor for all teams up for debate. That would certainly affect A, which operates under owner John Fischer with payrolls below the league average and, this year, could cut it to $40 million—a hotbed for the lowest payroll in MLB in 2022. would be a claimant.
MLB’s initial offer in August set the pay level at $100 million. While there is little indication that the players union will be in on the idea as it could prevent a dangerous pay ceiling, a pay floor may prompt Fisher and A to rethink their big payroll slashing party this year and any future year. will force. Ownership will be forced to face their biggest flaw: refusing to pay for popular players, who may at least be rewarding fan loyalty.
On the other hand, the CBA may continue to have a competitive balance tax (luxury tax) that requires teams to pay taxes on money spent over a certain limit. This is a threshold near which A has never come, so it is not a concern.
Any change to the arbitration system could change A’s entire baseball ideology. A’s most successful team is built on a key cheap players in control of the team. Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Frankie Montas, Sean Manea and Chris Bassit, for example, are some of the cost-controlled players with arbitrage qualifications who peak at their most affordable and when the price becomes too high for owner John. They can be traded. Fisher’s blood.
If arbitration eligibility drops to anything less than six seasons, the prices of cheap players could rise sharply and they could soon hit free agency. This can shorten the windows of contention because players will end up worth A’s sooner. It may also force A to adopt a different strategy in roster construction. Could they be forced to act more like the Tampa Bay Rays, spinning more quickly through the wheel of transactions and selling popular players earlier in their careers? Or it could force A’s owning arm to increase its payroll budget for more expensive agents and team-controlled players.