Two weeks before the expiration of baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, the owners met in Chicago. According to sources, commissioner Rob Manfred -- who had been through repeated rounds of labor negotiations himself -- offered a forecast for the last days of talks.
The negotiations are going to go down to the deadline and this will play to MLB’s advantage, Manfred told them. In so many words, Manfred predicted: If the talks go to the last 48 hours, MLB’s negotiators will overmatch the union side.
As the dust settles from the CBA agreement, this is precisely what appears to have happened, in the eyes of folks on both sides. There are agents who are forlorn about the fact that, in their eyes, the union acceded to at least two measures that will serve as hard salary caps for all practical purposes -- the restrictions on spending for international amateurs by individual teams, and the luxury tax level of 92 percent, under certain conditions.
“Call it what you want,” said one management official, “but that’s a salary cap. No team is going to spend past the point where they’re paying a 92 percent tax.”