The players need the holy trinity.
By that, I mean a salary cap, salary floor, and total revenue sharing to ensure every team can spend to the cap.
The current system is wide open, and designed for the guys making the most money. The current system still allows for the best players to receive the biggest contracts from the biggest market teams. It also allows for top players to make big dollars with one of the many contending teams.
This current system pays the players at the top, but ultimately churns through the majority of players during the years when their salary is restricted. Once a player turns 30, if he’s not adjusted to the majors, his career is over. If he’s below-average, his career is over.
Most players receive little pay in the minors. That’s not an issue if they received a large signing bonus, but most players don’t receive a large bonus.
Here’s a scenario: a player arrives in the majors at the age of 25. He’s good enough to play through his age-28 season, after which he gets non-tendered. By age 30, he’s out of the game. This player’s initial bonus was burned through during his time in the minors. He made $3 million in his time in the majors.
If that player saved every penny of the $3 million dollars he made, and he lives until 90 years old, he’ll have $50,000 per year for the rest of his life (not factoring in interest over that time). That’s not fully comfortable. The player would likely need another job outside of baseball, which can be difficult when you’ve spent most of your life inside baseball.
There’s this sentiment that MLB players don’t deserve money.
They’re chasing the dream in the minors, and if they want to get paid, they can do something else.
They’re getting the opportunity to live the dream in the majors, with the league minimum being ten times what the average school teacher might make.
And if you suggest that the majority of them should be set up to be more comfortable for life by age 30, you’d probably get some backlash.
Why should these players get that kind of assurance for playing baseball, when the players we’re talking about aren’t even the best in the game?
We don’t really see backlash against the players who do get paid into their 30s. They deserve it. But, if you’re a bad MLB player — regardless of the fact that you’re still among extremely rare company — you’re seen as undeserving of anything more than you’re given.
Look at this from another angle.
You’re a baseball player who has focused on baseball since high school. You turned pro at the age of 18, rather than going to college. You spent a few years making nothing at all, trying to develop your game to get a job with the big league club. You finally get that job, and for a few seasons you become part of what makes MLB tick, one of the few players who reaches the majors and makes the game possible.
In a league where most of the earning power is gone by age-30, these players should be paid more during their earning years.
The current system heavily restricts salaries for players under age 30, and it only pays the best players beyond age 30. That leaves hundreds of players who are just discarded after spending key years dedicating themselves to this game.
Major League Baseball needs to honor those players, and everyone who is good enough to be a professional baseball player. Players need to be paid and treated as the ones who were good enough, rather than being seen as this lucky person who was let through the gate with thousands of equally qualified players looking for work on the other side.
Consider this: On the owner’s side, once a team is sold, the owners and every member of their families are set up for life. For generations.
The league should at least work to ensure that every player who makes the majors for a prolonged period is set up for their life.
If the league implemented a salary cap, floor, and revenue sharing, it would almost certainly raise the minimum payroll and raise the salaries of the players at the bottom. The players at the top might take a pay cut, but the players union would get more money overall.
That money would be spread more equally throughout the player’s union, with those at the bottom of the league getting paid more for their efforts in getting to this league at all.
That’s an amazing feat that currently is faced with restricted pay.
That’s one of the challenges the players face ahead of them.