Temple Law Review alumnus Noah Goodman was recently selected to present an article at the 28th Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the Baseball Hall of Fame in June. His article, which he developed as a comment for Temple Law Review, focuses on the evolution and decline in free agency in Major League Baseball. The article will be published in the National Sports Lawyers Journal.
The following is Noah’s overview of the article:
Since professional baseball began in the early 1870s, the players have been fighting for greater employment rights. Although the Supreme Court repeatedly found the players’ argument that MLB served as a restraint on trade in violation of federal antitrust laws unpersuasive, the players ultimately found refuge through arbitration. Today, nearly a half century since Flood and the Messersmith and McNally arbitration decisions, the players are still restrained by free agency. Even though the players collectively bargained for the current terms and conditions of free agency, the system is antiquated and in need of reform.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, free agents are consistently paid for their past as opposed to their future production. In effect, age is the essential issue with the labor market. Importantly, in the next collective bargaining agreement, the owners and the MLBPA should acknowledge that fact by starting free agency earlier. By implementing a system that allows players to reach free agency after four years of service time, the owners would be encouraged to invest their money back into the labor market and give players a greater opportunity to chose their employer and bargain for their compensation.
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