St. Louis Cardinals: Dissecting the agreement made with the MLBPA

The MLB and the MLBPA officially agreed on a plan for salary and service time for the 2020 season. How does it affect the St. Louis Cardinals?

On Wednesday, Jeff Passan of ESPN wrote an article about the negotiations going on between the MLB and the MLBPA in regards to service time and pay for the 2020 season. Late on Thursday, Passan announced again that a deal had been agreed to officially, and it has some interesting implications for the St. Louis Cardinals and the rest of the league.

The biggest thing that the MLBPA wanted for the players was to accrue service time this year, even if no games end up being played. This is a big deal for owners who want to keep their young players around for longer and cheaper.

The MLBPA got what they wanted, but at a very steep price.

If you follow this thread, you will see some more details about the deal, but this gouging of the draft has huge implications for the minor league affiliates of every team.

With this year’s draft shortened to just five rounds, the lower levels of minor league teams will be starved for talent. College baseball will be a lot more talent-rich in the coming years and the MLB will have an empty bubble at its base.

Many have been predicting that the draft changes were leveraged at this time by the league so that in the coming years they can get rid of some of the lower levels of the minor leagues. This plan has been known, but using the sport’s current hiatus as a time to advance their agenda will have lasting effects on the league.

Back to service time, as Passan notes in that thread, players with more than one year of service time already will get a full year, regardless of how many games are played. That means that Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, and more players will be free agents this winter no matter what. Do you wonder if the Dodgers wish they would’ve kept the package they sent to Boston now?

For players with less than a year of service time, this season can get a little tricky. Baseball Prospectus did a great job of breaking it down in a free article here.

As Craig Goldstein writes, “For players with fewer than 100 percent of service time, the agreement dictates that they will receive the shortened season’s service time prorated out over the full 187-day season.”

That means that for players like Dylan Carlson, the Cardinals would not have to keep him down in the Minors as long in order to get the extra year of control at the back end of his rookie contract. Again, from Goldstein, “In this scenario, each game missed by an unpromoted prospect is worth two service days to the team.”

In the event of a fully missed season, players with less than a year of service time (but more than zero) get the short end of the stick. In that scenario, their service time from 2019 would be repeated in 2020. So, for players like Junior Fernandez, he would still be under a full year of service time instead of the likely year-plus of service time he would get if the season was played fully.

Also included in the deal is that players will get an advance on their salaries now, and will receive prorated salaries when games start.

At first glance, this does not seem like a great deal for players, even though they get an important advance. The landscape of the MLB will be affected by this for years, but Passan did come back with one final word about all of this.

A deal was needed, and a deal was reached. Now the league has a structure for what things will look like if the season resumes this year or if it doesn’t. It’s just hard to justify sacrificing so much of the future for a short-term solution.

Next: Counting down the top five longest homers of 2019

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At the end of the day, the Cardinals are likely thanking their wallets they didn’t sign any large one-year contracts or give up a lot in assets for one year of any player. The team will get one year closer to getting some bad contracts off the books regardless of the season’s length, and that’s progress. Do not underestimate the longterm changes this deal will cause to the MLB though. Change is most definitely coming.