Many issues open for discussion in baseball labor dispute

Posted: Monday, August 12, 2002

Issues in baseball's labor dispute:

Amateur Draft

Owners: Would open the annual draft each June, currently limited to players in the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada, to players from around the world and cut it from 50 rounds to 38 rounds. Would allow teams to trade draft picks, with some restrictions.

Players: Open to concept of worldwide draft, but have proposed 16 rounds. Worried that college juniors and seniors, junior college players and high school seniors (the group currently eligible) would be given preference over the newly eligible players, they want owners to centralize academies in Latin America that currently are run by individual teams, which would increase the knowledge of those players among all teams. Agree that teams should be able to trade draft picks, and also would allow teams to trade negotiating rights to a selected player after the draft, a concept owners oppose.

Commissioner's Discretionary Fund

Owners: Have proposed that the commissioner can take $85 million from the central fund -- where money goes from national broadcasting and licensing contracts -- and distribute it unequally to teams. Because the money is to be taken equally from every team -- $2.83 million each -- at most $45 million could be transferred to the 14 teams with the least revenue.

Players: Have proposed moving $40 million unequally from the central fund to the low-revenue teams.

Competitive-Balance Draft

Owners: The teams with the eight highest winning percentages during the previous three years would be able to protect 25 players apiece in the draft. Only the teams with the eight lowest winning percentages during the previous three years would be allowed to make selections, and they could take only one player each. The draft would take place annually after the World Series but before the end of the winter meetings each December.

Players: Open to the concept.

Contraction

Owners: They claim they have the right to eliminate teams but must bargain on the effects of eliminating teams, such as a dispersal draft.

Players: They claim franchises cannot be folded without the union's approval. The union filed a grievance claiming the Nov. 6 vote, which is pending.

Drug Testing

Owners: Would like mandatory random drug testing for illegal steroids, nutritional supplements like the testosterone-booster androstenedione and for ''recreational'' drugs like cocaine.

Players: Agree to mandatory random testing for illegal steroids, oppose mandatory random testing for nutritional supplements and for ''recreational'' drugs.

Luxury Tax

Owners: To slow salary growth, owners would like a 50 percent luxury tax on the portions of payrolls above $98 million (including 40-man rosters and benefits). The previous labor contract called for a 35 percent tax in 1997 and 1998, and a 34 percent tax in 1999, levied on the portions of payrolls above the midpoint of the fifth-highest payroll and sixth-highest payroll. Because the payroll was not fixed, most owners concluded it was ineffective, but the union claims it kept the highest spenders closer to the other teams. Teams paid $12.1 million in 1997, $6.6 million in 1998 and $12 million in 1999, a total of $30.6 million.

Players: Philosophically oppose a luxury tax.

Minimum Payrolls

Owners: Proposed a $45 million minimum payroll (including 40-man rosters and benefits), to address concerns that owners may keep additional revenue-sharing money. Only Montreal and Tampa Bay were below that this season.

Players: As opposed to payroll floors as they are to payroll ceilings.

Revenue Sharing

Owners: Hoping to decrease revenue disparity, they have proposed increasing revenue sharing, which began in 1996. Under the current system, called a split-pool plan, each team contributes 20 percent of its net local revenue, after deductions for ballpark expenses, to a pool. Seventy-five percent of the pool is redistributed equally to all 30 teams, and 25 percent is redistributed only to the teams with local revenue below the major league average. They first proposed that each team contribute 50 percent of its net local revenue, after deductions for ballpark expenses, to a pool that would be redistributed equally to all 30 teams. Using 2001 figures, the amount of shared money would increase from $167 million to $298 million.

Players: First proposed continuing the split-pool plan and having each team contribute 22.5 percent of its net local revenue, after deductions for ballpark expenses. Using 2001 figures, the amount of shared money would increase to $228 million. The sides say they have moved closer since initial proposals.

Salary Arbitration

Owners: Would eliminate salary arbitration eligible of ''Super Twos'' -- the top 17 percent by service time of those players with two or more years but less than three years of major league service. In the 1985 contract, the eligibility of players with two or more but less than three years of major league service was eliminated. Eligibility for the ''Super Twos'' -- approximately 12 each year -- was restored in the 1990 contract and left unchanged in the 1997 contract. Owners also want to be able to withdraw contract offers to players after salary arbitration figures are exchanged each Jan. 18.

Players: Oppose changes.

Suspensions

Owners: Would like to be able to suspend players without pay for on-field misconduct, which would overturn a pair of grievance decisions won by the union.

Players: Oppose changes.



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