BASEBALL IS BACK
Updated: Mar 22
Folks, so sorry I’m very late on this, finals will be the death of me, but after 99 days of hell, Major League Baseball is back. We will have our 162 game season with opening day set for April 7 and players reporting to Spring Training immediately. And obviously the most fun part about an agreement being made is free agency is finally back in full swing. We’ve already seen players like Rodón and Kershaw come off the market and rumors are spreading like wildfire, most notably Freeman to the Dodgers and the Cubs and Yankees emerging as favorites for Correa (get a deal done Jed, give the guy a building or something). But the important thing here is that the MLBPA and the owners finally came to an agreement and there is some stuff that happened that I’d love to break down and give some thoughts on.
First a huge win for players as the minimum salary was raised to $700k and will increase yearly by $20k until it reaches $780k in 2026. Living is expensive and professional athletes should never have to worry about their paychecks. This isn’t about skill, it’s about having decency.
Another huge win for the league is the increase of the CBT (competitive balance tax). The CBT will start at $230m and will gradually increase yearly until it reaches $244m in 2026. This just means teams are going to be able to spend more money before they get hit with penalties for going over the luxury tax. While this may just continue to help the big market teams sign more big time players, it also means that players are going to continue to get paid more, which is always a win.
The pre-arbitration bonus pool is going to be $50m, meaning the top 100 young players who have yet to reach salary arbitration will receive bonuses for their performance. Again, always a bonus to see young players get their money. To put this into perspective, Corbin Burnes only received a $600k bonus for his Cy Young year in 2021 and with this new bonus pool, he would’ve received $4.2m.
There is now a draft lottery for the top 6 picks in the MLB draft, which is great. Tanking is dumb and no one should be rewarded for losing. Negotiations for the international draft will continue until July 25, so we’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out.
And the most exciting change, at least for me, this year is that the universal DH is finally here! Why were pitchers going to the plate ever a thing? They suck at hitting and no one likes a guaranteed out. More offense means more fans are engaged and makes it easier for new fans to fall in love with the game.
However the 2023 season will bring different changes to the game that are very much against tradition but look to speed up the pace at which the game is played and keep fans engaged.
There will be a pitch clock instituted, which was being tested in the minors, that will be 14 seconds with no one on base and 19 seconds with runners on base, which to me is only going to help baseball. Not only has the testing in the minors shown that there is significantly more action, but the games were reduced by around 20 minutes, which has been one of the many complaints from casual fans. Dead time in baseball will become almost non-existent. The size of the bases will also be increased and this is to reduce injuries from stepping on players and will look to promote players to steal more bases, which again makes the game more exciting and fun. And the final change in the 2023 season will be the ban of defensive shifts. Finally! I love baseball with all my heart, but the shift stinks. There’s no reason for a guy like Joey Gallo to hit the ball as hard as he does to shallow right and still get out at first. This means guys are going to get more hits and get on base more and the guys out on the field actually have to play defense. This only benefits the game.
So those are all the major changes that have come up from the new labor deal between the players and the owners and I honestly think it's a huge win for both sides and most importantly, baseball. The game is going to have much more offense and will be played at a much faster rate, which ultimately makes watching games more fun and engaging to casual and die-hard fans. I’m thrilled that baseball is back and I can’t wait for Jeff Passan to tweet out that Correa has signed with the best team in Chicago. As always, Go Cubs.
-Tony Anaya (Twitter: @anayaL8TR)