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MLB Collective Bargaining Talks Begin

With so much talk about the collective bargaining agreement negotiations occurring within NFL and NBA circles, the MLB often gets left out of the discussion.  All three sports’ collective bargaining issues will be discussed this Friday at the 2010 UF Sports Law Symposium.  Anyway, the current MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on December 11, 2011.  With expiration set less than two years away from today’s date, there is no reason that it should be ignored.  Time flies, and the last thing that executives and players’ association personnel want to think about during the championship season are the specific terms that need to be renegotiated or negotiated in/out of the next CBA.

Since 1966, professional baseball players have collectively gone on strike five times (1972, 1980, 1981, 1985 and 1994-95) and the owners have locked out the players three times (1973, 1976 and 1990).  And you thought that both sides see eye-to-eye.

The hottest topic right now concerns the potential for a slotting system that would be similar to what is used by the NBA in the first round of that league’s draft.  Basically, the way that the NBA’s first round works is that every year, the value at each slot goes up to reflect inflation.  Players and their agents can bargain for as much as 120% of the slot at which they are selected, but the teams may also submit offers for as low as 80% of the slot value.  Would this type of system work in Major League Baseball?  For one round?  For fifty rounds?

Would a slotting system really help out the worst teams by allowing them to make their picks based on talent instead of a mixture of talent and something called “signability”?  Maybe in the short term, but once those terms are unable to retain the players, they will move onto the Yankees and Red Sox as they do under the status quo.  But if the owners really want this slotting system, they will have to concede on some major things that the union desires.  If the money for draft picks decreases, then the money for proven veterans will have to increase.  There is no way that the MLBPA allows owners to get away with spending less across the board.

What do you envision being a hot issue as CBA talks increase?  Tracy Ringolsby of thinks that Strasburg and Chapman will be the hot topics.  How will those issues be solved?  There will undoubtedly be many concessions made by both sides at the negotiation table.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.