New York Yankees president Randy Levine made a radio appearance on the Michael Kay Show on Monday afternoon to discuss, what else, Major League Baseball's owner-imposed lockout and the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. "It's embarrassing to be where we are," he said, less than a week after commissioner Rob Manfred announced the league had canceled the first two series of the regular season.
Predictably, Levine's appearance saw him address two of the issues on which the league and the MLB Players Association have differed the most throughout negotiations: the Competitive Balance Tax and the distribution of money.
Randy Levine on the Competitive Balance Tax pic.twitter.com/8EkeKW9TJm— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 7, 2022
Levine said of the CBT that it's "nothing to shut down the season over," and that it's "something that can be compromised." The union's most recent offer, made on Sunday, set the CBT threshold to begin at $238 million next season and climb to $263 million over the duration of the CBA. The owners, who have attempted to gain steeper penalties for crossing the tax line, last offered a $220 million starting point that would slowly increase to $230 million during the course of the CBA.
Levine, who was adamant that the owners were "pretty united" despite reports that four voted against the league's last proposal and more were willing to join over the CBT threshold, discussed the players' attempt at shaking up the allocation of finances. "If you give money from the pot to younger players, there may be less money for older players," he said, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. "From a union side, they have to measure all of these various constituencies and do what's practical."
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One of the cornerstones of the union's proposal has entailed a bonus pool for players who are not yet arbitration eligible. The union has ceded ground on how large it would like the central pool to be (the money would then be handed out based on performance), with its most recent offer earmarking $80 million. The league has been reluctant to hit such heights, offering $30 million in its latest proposal.
Levine also made a point of downplaying the importance of which side benefited the most from past the last CBA, and said both, that there's "not endless money" in the coffers and that "nobody's crying poverty." Yet, as The Score's Travis Sawchik recently tweeted, if the CBT had grown at the same rate as the league's revenues from 2003-2019, it would have been set at $297 million in 2019 rather than $206 million.
As a reminder, the owners unanimously instituted the lockout moments after the old CBA expired on Dec. 1. The league then waited more than six weeks before making a proposal to the players, wasting time that could have been used constructively so as to avoid a compromised regular season.