'It's Not About Me': Max Scherzer Bucks A System That Worked For Him

JUPITER, Fla. — Max Scherzer drives a Porsche. This shouldn’t be shocking. He is a very talented and highly paid professional athlete....


JUPITER, Fla. — Max Scherzer drives a Porsche.

This shouldn’t be shocking. He is a very talented and highly paid professional athlete. Investment bankers, corporate executives and movie stars also drive them. And billionaire MLB club owners have mansions, jets and sumptuous artwork.

Throughout his decorated career, Scherzer signed two free agent contracts worth a combined $340 million. The Lerners, billionaire owners of the Washington Nationals, and Steven Cohen, the billionaire owner of the Mets, gave him these offers. The last, a three-year, $130 million deal signed with the Mets this offseason, set a baseball record for the highest average annual salary: $43.3 million per year.

Clearly, Scherzer, 37, has benefited from baseball’s economic structure, a model negotiated in labor agreements between MLB owners and the players’ union. With Scherzer on the team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Nationals and, eventually, the Mets will have paid a luxury tax for big payrolls.

Despite all this, Scherzer is pushing for change in the new working agreement with owners. He and Andrew Miller, a veteran pitcher with an estimated career earnings of $80 million, are among the union’s best, and certainly most vocal, player representatives.

Scherzer was at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., during the nine days of face-to-face negotiations with MLB before the league’s self-imposed deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday to begin the 2022 season as scheduled on March 31. He and Miller were both there to the 4:30 p.m. marathon negotiation session which started on Monday and continued on Tuesday.

And after the MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has canceled the first two series of the season – more than 75 games – Scherzer attended a press conference during which he explained why all this matters to him and why the players were ready to wait until they got a contract that they judged fair.

“It’s not about me; it’s about everyone,” he said after Tuesday’s press conference. “And I’ve seen what happens to other guys, and I’m willing to fight for those guys, and willing to sacrifice my salary to make sure they can get the most out of what they can. .”

The parties have been discussing a new collective agreement since last spring. When a new agreement has not been concluded before the expiration of the previous one, Manfred locked players out on December 2, cessation of sport and any interactions or transactions involving players. The talks in Florida produced only modest progress, with gaps remaining on several key issues.

When March 31 rolls around and the stadiums remain empty, players will start losing their wages and service time. For every regular season day lost, Scherzer stands to lose about $233,000.

It will be much easier for Scherzer to miss paychecks — and an unknown part of his finished career — than most. Scherzer, three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2019 World Series Champion, already has several million and a guaranteed spot on the Mets roster. Many others, however, do not.

The teams, which are led by analytically gifted executives, have increasingly dependent on younger and cheaper players which have little or no influence on increases in demand. Think stars like the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player finalist Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or the winner of the National League Cy Young Award Corbin Burnes.

Despite record contracts, like Scherzer’s, the average major league salary of around $4 million has plateaued. The average career length is around four years and salary arbitration – which provides for increases – usually begins after a player has accumulated three years of service. According to the union, 60% of players who played in a major league game last year were paid around the league’s minimum rate of $570,500.

MLB’s latest minimum wage proposal, which has gradually increased over talks, called for it to start at $700,000 in 2022. Players have asked for $725,000 this season, with larger annual increases. The parties agreed to create a bonus pool for top players who are not yet eligible for arbitration, but they argued over the amount ($30 million with no annual increase versus $85 million with $5 million). dollars of annual increase).

So this, Scherzer said, goes beyond a labor dispute between billionaires and millionaires.

“Players in my position understand that there are players in the minor leagues who haven’t made a lot of money in their life,” he said of players in the lower ranks of baseballwho are not represented by the MLB Players Union, and who are often paid around $8,000 to $14,000 a year – and not all of them receive big signing bonuses either.

“Step into the big leagues makes them almost whole when it comes to even minimum wage,” Scherzer continued. “They’ve been in debt going through the minor leagues, and being able to realize that major league windfall really makes a difference in their lives and careers. That’s why, in a $10 billion industry, we veteran players – and I’ve spoken to many veteran players – all agree that their pre-arbitration player compensation needs to go up.

For the first time since talks in Florida were called off, MLB and union negotiators met Thursday for 90 minutes in New York. All key issues were discussed, but it was unclear when they would meet again or when a new deal would be agreed. Every day is costly for both parties – and in the eyes of the fans.

“If it was solely within my ability or the ability of the clubs to get a deal, we would have a deal,” Manfred said on Tuesday. “The most difficult part of this process is that both parties have to come to an agreement. I’m really disappointed that we haven’t reached an agreement and I’m really determined to do everything possible to get one.

While the owners have listened to the union and offered ways to increase the compensation for young players, they have also offered ways to generate more revenue to pay for it, such as expanding the playoffs, and some methods to limit the spending elsewhere, like their luxuries. tax model, which players say has not kept pace with revenue growth.

“We have a wage bill disparity problem, and weakening the only mechanism in the agreement which is designed to promote some semblance of competitive balance is just something I don’t think the club group is ready to do. “, said Manfred.

Bruce Meyer, the union’s chief negotiator, said Tuesday that the differences in the parties’ proposals for those pre-arbitration players were about $90 million.

As for MLB viewing player concerns as a wealth distribution problem — that star players disproportionately command more money than others — Scherzer offered an alternative explanation. He said that, during negotiations, he looked at a metric that compared players’ total compensation — from the year they enter the major leagues through arbitration — to what is known of earnings from the league. Historically, the remuneration of these players represents 3 to 4% of income.

“Given that we’ve seen historic amounts of young players in the game and the production they’ve been able to bring to the game, the offer we have on the table is 5% that we’re trying to allocate,” a- he declared. noted. “Just one more percentage point of league revenue going to these young guys, and we’re told that’s too much.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'It's Not About Me': Max Scherzer Bucks A System That Worked For Him
'It's Not About Me': Max Scherzer Bucks A System That Worked For Him
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