MLB lockout: The logical flaw in the MLBPA negotiating stance

Sep 3, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer (left) tosses his helmet after striking out to end the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer (left) tosses his helmet after striking out to end the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jake Cronenworth has been a big value for San Diego. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Cronenworth has been a big value for San Diego. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

The situation in San Diego — paying a lot of players less even though they produce the same or more — is a pattern replicated across the game’s landscape. And in a sense, it only represents a good business practice. Any competent office manager — whether in baseball, plastics, accounting or entertainment — seeks to generate the highest value at the least cost.

Still, the MLBPA makes a strong point when it argues that less-experienced players tend to be compensated unfairly relative to their production. For decades the sport has under-compensated its young stars relative to their on-field production.

That’s why it has made a large case out of obtaining increases in both the minimum salary and in pre-arbitration scales. It’s also why it has sought to reduce the number of years required to qualify for arbitration, and why it has lobbied to set up a bonus system for high-performing young players.

The flaw in the union’s position is the logical inconsistency of demanding changes in the name of competitive balance at the lower end of the salary scale while simultaneously demanding changes at the higher end of the scale.

If your issue truly is competitive balance, then it only stands to reason that you should support restraints on higher-end spending as a means of limiting the team-by-team financial inequities that exist today.