To our fans:
I always hoped that I wouldn’t have to be in this position of canceling games. We worked hard to avoid a result that was bad for our fans, bad for our players and bad for our teams.
I want to assure our fans that the failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort on the part of either party. The players were here for nine days, they worked hard and tried to reach an agreement. I appreciate your effort.
Our committee of club representatives committed to the process, offered compromise after compromise, and kept working past the deadline to exhaust all efforts, with the goal of reaching an agreement.
So far, we have failed in our goal of reaching that mutual goal, which is a fair settlement. The unfortunate thing is that the deal that we have presented has immense benefits for the fans and the players.
We have listened to the Players Association throughout this process. One of the main goals of the Players Association has been to increase payments to younger players. As I have said before, we agree and share that goal. We offered to raise the minimum salary to $700,000, an increase of $130,000 from 2021. We offered to create a $30 million bonus fund for the best young players. In total, we’re offering a 33% raise to nearly two-thirds of Major League players and adding more than $100 million annually in additional compensation for young players.
The proposal also addressed the concerns of players and fans on issues such as service time and competitiveness. For the first time, baseball would have a lottery-style draft, the most aggressive in all of professional sports. In addition, and also for the first time, we agreed on an incentive system to encourage placing your best prospects on your Opening Day rosters. We also proposed that the players who finished first and second in the Rookie of the Year voting in each league would receive a full year of service time.
The MLBPA called for free agency to be strengthened. For the first time ever, we agreed to eliminate direct compensation in the form of draft spots, a change the MLBPA has called for for decades. On the Competitive Balance Tax, we offered a significantly larger increase in the first year than in the last two agreements, taking into account that the Competitive Balance Tax is the only mechanism in the agreement that somehow protects the idea of competing in equality of conditions between the teams.
The International Draft would have spread talent more fairly between teams and reduced abuse in some international markets.
We also listen to our fans. A broader postseason format would have brought the excitement of big games in September and postseason baseball to fans in more markets. While we preferred a 14-team format, when the format became a significant hurdle, we listened to players’ concerns and offered to compromise by accepting their 12-team format.
Ultimately, we offered a deal that would have allowed for much-needed rules, such as the timer for pitchers and the removal of defensive shifts, to be implemented in a timely manner to enhance the entertainment value of our game. And we agreed to have the universal designated hitter.
So what’s next? The schedule says we’re not going to be able to play the games of the first two series of the regular season and those games are officially cancelled. We are prepared to continue negotiations. We have been informed that the MLBPA is going back to New York, which means that at least until Thursday, it is not possible to reach an agreement. At this time, camps would not be able to operate in any meaningful way until at least March 8, leaving only 23 days before the originally scheduled Opening Day.
We played without a deal in 1994 and the players went on strike in August, forcing the cancellation of the World Series. It was a painful chapter in the history of our game. We cannot risk such a scenario repeating itself for our fans and our sport.
The teams and our owners fully understand how important it is to our millions of fans to get the game back on the field as quickly as possible. To that end, we want to negotiate and reach an agreement with the Players Association as soon as possible.
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Commissioner’s letter to fans