With the last days of 2015 falling off calendars, we present the most notable storylines in Major League Baseball for 2016.
1. The negotiations for a new labor agreement
The current deal between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association expires in 347 days, and there are plenty of issues that must be resolved by the time the current deal runs out next Dec. 1, including the length of the schedule, draft-pick compensation and qualifying offers, and roster size.
The players are making more than ever and so are the owners, apparently, so for now, there is little indication that a work stoppage might be on the horizon. But there is one situation worth watching in particular: The growing discontent of small-market owners over what they perceive to be increasing disparity between themselves and the big-market teams.
This clash has the potential to be cancerous, as history shows. It was the fight between big-market and small-market teams that effectively led to the devastating players' strike of 1994-1995, and some increased revenue-sharing that followed in subsequent collective bargaining agreements.
Small-market teams are certainly capable of profiting very well under the current system, by drawing revenue from baseball's central revenue stream as well as handouts from the most well-to-do teams and maintaining a modest budgets. The Marlins are the best example of this.
But for some owners, the frustration over the perceived disparity seems to be shifting from an issue of money to a question of on-field competitiveness. Some leaders of small-market teams feel that not only should they have a chance to contend against teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox, but that for the sake of the larger business of baseball, it's better that they have a legitimate shot -- and that their ability to compete is waning because of the cost of retaining stars like David Price.
Soon enough, we will know how far the coalition of small-market teams will push this discussion, and whether others will join them -- perhaps with the power to turn this from an understated in-house argument into something more serious.
Bloated contracts are bad for baseball, writes Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times.
2. The Cardinals versus the Cubs