MLB players union reportedly upset with Marlins and Pirates for slashing payroll

In light of slashing payroll in separate sell-offs -- obviously with one being more extreme than the other -- the Major League Baseball Players Association appears to be angry with the Pirates and Marlins. Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the MLBPA might file grievances against the teams for failing to put revenue-sharing money back into baseball operations. 

Both teams receive more than $50 million from revenue sharing, which takes money from the highest-revenue teams and gives it to the lowest-revenue teams in an effort to better even the playing field when it comes to player salaries. The collective bargaining agreement specifically says that revenue sharing money needs to be used by a team "in an effort to improve its performance on the field." 

What's interesting here is rebuilds have been done to great success recently. Both the Cubs and Astros stripped their big-league clubs in a rebuild and ended up winning the World Series. They weren't getting revenue sharing, but does this mean the smaller-market clubs shouldn't be allowed to rebuild in the same manner? It's an interesting subject to ponder. 

The Pirates' opening day payroll in 2017 was nearly $96 million. Once all the pre-arbitration and arbitration deals are settled -- assuming they don't sign any free agents -- right now baseball-reference.com pegs the estimated payroll at $85.5 million. 

Through that lens, the Pirates case here would be a tough one to make for the MLBPA. 

The Marlins' opening day payroll in 2017 was $115 million and change. They've trimmed it to just over $90 million, which still doesn't necessarily seem excessively low, from the perspective that they have decided to rebuild. 

It seems like an uphill battle here for the MLBPA under the current CBA. 

The main takeaway here for me is that the MLBPA is preparing to start a battle. Amid an unbelievably slow free agency this offseason, we've started to hear cries of collusion. The luxury tax threshold is being used almost as a salary cap while player salaries as a percentage of the skyrocketing league revenue continue to drop. In fact, the percentage of money being spent on player salaries is as low as it has been in decades, per several studies (such as from Emma Baccellieri of Deadspin, check out her handy graph here). 

Now, obviously the player salaries sound outrageous to you and I, but the league is making over $10 billion in gross revenue each year now and the players are the talent. They deserve a bigger piece of the pie and it's the union's job to fight for that. Our own Mike Axisa recently wrote about five ways the MLBPA could work toward fixing the economic system in baseball

Basically, consider this the first of several shots coming from the MLBPA before the next CBA, which, fortunately, doesn't come up until after the 2021 season. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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