The MLB Lockout started at 12:01 eastern on December 2nd, 2021 when the last MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired. Since then, the owners have gone on the offensive against the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) and the labor that made the game what it is today. Three main factors stand between where the talks stand now (which have been less than productive) and the resumption of baseball activities. Those are player revenue sharing, which is the idea the players get a cut of the money the teams make from media deals, service time manipulation, and a pre-arbitration bonus pool which gives bonuses to players on rookie deals who win major awards like Cy Young and MVP.
How does this all impact the Phillies? This question is complicated because, like every team, the Phillies have an owner who is participating in the negotiations against the players asking for a fairer workplace. The Phillies are in a precarious situation on their path toward making a playoff run. Multiple late-season collapses have resulted in disgruntled fans as well as more questions than answers on how the Phillies are suited for the future of baseball. As the Phills develop their identity, they’re faced with a personnel problem where most of their talent isn’t grown in their farm system. Years of subpar drafting and inadequate management of the farm system have led the Phillies to seek out getting their talent through the free-agent pool. While this isn’t necessarily a huge issue, it’s now ballooning into a far larger issue due to the lack of the ability to make transactions. Middleton and the owners are handcuffing the Phillies’ best weapon for becoming a contender.
The Phillies’ precarious position is made more perilous by the fact their window of opportunity to not only make the playoffs, but to give their star, Bryce Harper, a championship closes more each passing day. Harper’s coming off an MVP season that saw him rival seasons of Phillies legends past such as Mike Schmidt in 1981 or Ryan Howard in 2006. Harper’s versatility is one of a kind combining great defense with elite hitting ability. Harper turns 30 this year on October 16th. The best early birthday gift the Phillies can give Bryce is to be loud advocates in accepting players’ proposals for a fairer workplace.
The MLBPA and the owners have closed the gap with coming closer on MLBPA demands such as pre-arbitration bonus pool numbers and an increase in rookie salaries, but the owners’ changes to their proposals have been marginal at best. The longer MLB owners continue to haggle on creating a fair workplace for some of our favorite athletes, the longer we, the fans, will suffer. MLB owners, including John Middleton, are making more money than ever off of the MLB accounting for a 30% increase in revenue from 2015 to now. Yet, the MLB owners are purporting to not have the resources to meet player demands. With the potential loss of Spring Training, delays in players participating in treatment, facilities, and much more, the Phillies will continue to see real consequences for owners’ greed in a prolonged lockout.
George is a retired baseball player turned government relations analyst who has spent time as a bartender, line cook, and DH abolitionist. Ask him who his favorite team is and it’s whichever Philadelphia team is making him less mad that day