MLB Trade Rumors | Anthony Franco: As the clock neared midnight on Tuesday night into Wednesday, CBA negotiations continued. There were murmurs from the owners’ side that this was another deadline to potentially still play 162 games in 2022 despite negotiations falling apart early last week, so that added a little more juice to the talks. (The league, of course, ended up pushing this “deadline” to Wednesday afternoon, like last week.)
MLBTR always does a great job tracking all the developments on a given night, and this is a solid roundup of the key talking points. MLB increased its year-by-year CBT offer to the union, though with strings attached. Namely, the owners want to add another CBT threshold even higher than the third level passed by the Dodgers in 2021. They also pitched ditching the qualifying offer system — which only benefited 14 players this offseason — in exchange for implementing a controversial international draft, and gaining the ability to expedite rule changes beyond just the pitch clock & shifts included in the MLBPA’s last offer. Generous to reward yourself, I suppose. Other topics included draft lottery, service time awards, and the pre-arb bonus pool.
The silver linings are that this remains some kind of progress in talks, and that all of these discussions reportedly took place under the assumption of a 12-team playoff rather than a crowded 14-team field. It’s still playoff expansion, but that part is inevitable at this point.
Associated Press: Assuming that the 2022 season ever actually gets underway, there will be a new player in the baseball streaming market. Apple and MLB announced an agreement for “Friday Night Baseball” to come to Apple TV+ this year with two games produced by MLB Network studios and streaming exclusively on Apple’s platform.
This all means that when the Yankees’ turn comes around to play on Apple TV+, they will not be available anywhere else. The first (undisclosed) number of games will not require an Apple TV+ subscription, but it’s a little unfortunate that eventually, fans without access to it — or a reason to subscribe beyond the occasional Yankees game — simply won’t be able to watch. (Oh, and owners will now be flush with a little more cash to maybe pay players if they deign to consider it.)
MLB.com | Bryan Hoch: The Yankees’ top 2021 draft pick, Trey Sweeney, has been getting a bunch of attention in minor league camp and despite industry skepticism toward his ability to stay at shortstop, he continues to work out at the position. The Yankees like his build and understandably do not yet see a reason to bump him to, say, third base just yet. Yes, there is a bevy of other shortstop prospects in the system, but remember: Alex Bregman and Manny Machado saw minimal time outside short during their minor league years and still became terrific third basemen without much transition time. The Yankees can always move Sweeney over later on if they think that it’s not working out.
Sweeney also discussed how fastballs move differently in the minors compared to college ball, and that he’s looking forward to taking the next steps at the plate in his first full professional season. Step one: Swinging at more pitches. Hit strikes hard!
Morning Consult | Alex Silverman: This is not your typical Yankees link, but it’s not every day that we get regular polling firms about baseball. This is a good glimpse as to how the MLB lockout has been perceived by the public beyond just diehards of the sport or Twitter echo chambers. An early March survey of 1,305 fans blamed owners more than players for the lockout, 45 percent to 21 percent (34 percent did not pick a side). This is a reverse of fan opinion from 1994.
Also in this survey: A good question about the preferred number of playoff teams, which we discussed earlier in the news. Most fans would rather the postseason stay at 10 teams or just move up to 12. In comparison, there is much stronger opposition to expanding to 14 or 16 teams. It’s almost like fans are tired of MLB attempting to dilute the already-long regular season!