Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are back at work and ready for whatever the week has in store.
Friday’s CBA uncertainty is no more, as both the league and the players union got a deal done on a new labor agreement hours after I filed my column. There is no doubt that this is good news and it means that everyone involved (plus the fans) can move on and get ready for the season to come.
While the full players’ union membership still needs to sign off, the fact that the overwhelming majority of union reps did so means that this is probably just a formality.
But it was not a particularly rosy picture for the players. They got one of their chief asks, which was some progress on free agency. Now younger players with less service time will be eligible for free agency, which is certainly progress and brings the league closer to its peers in other major American sports.
But aside from promises that salaries will not be cut in 2021, along with some future salary raises, this was a deal that was quite favorable for ownership. That’s mainly due to the deal now running until 2027, meaning that the players will miss out on what would have been a big re-negotiation ahead of the 2026 World Cup, when they would have considerable leverage.
That means a jump in compensation for players will not come until the league (and its owners) have already started to reap the benefits from the World Cup.
And while the players will get more of a cut in the next media rights deal, it is keyed into the difference from the current deal to the new deal. And with a lot of uncertainty as to how those negotiations will go down, this isn’t as fruitful as it might sound initially.
Finally, the owners retain the option of using the force majeure clause in the future, which is effectively what brought us here in the first place. It could irreparably damage relations were they to use it again and it can’t happen until after December of 2021. But I’m surprised that the union didn’t push harder on limiting its use in the future, given the can of worms it opened up this time.
Clearly, neither side wanted a lockout, as both conceded significant ground — which is good. But I can’t shake the feeling that the league gained much more ground, in comparison with the original CBA which had a lot more benefit for the players. While we (hopefully) have six years before crossing this bridge again, one hopes the experience won’t have permanent ramifications on labor relations.
But the upshot is we will have soccer and it will start sooner rather than later. The season will kick off April 3 but training camps will open in late February — an important date for a Caps team where the future of several players will likely hinge on their performances in the preseason.
Until then? Come join us in holding forth here at Coffee with the Caps, waiting for more signings to (oh please dear God) come.
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