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John Heyman’s source-less story notwithstanding, contraction wasn’t a realistic option when the sport was losing money back in 2001, and certainly isn’t realistic now when the sport is rolling in cash.

Consider how it was designed, back when it was in vogue: twenty-eight teams buy out the other two for a ‘market price,’ leaving all remaining contracts with vendors, suppliers, sponsors, and maybe even players unfulfilled. The remaining owners get a larger piece of the national media revenues, while the two that were bought out receive way more than they could have on the open market. If this sounds like some kind of MLB-generated Ponzi Bankruptcy Court, you’re not far off.

The reality is that MLB would have been hit with dozens of lawsuits that would have made it virtually impossible to actually pull off. Yes, a team can go bankrupt; if we really are looking at a decade-long depression, it’s possible (if entirely unlikely) that a Major League team could fail. But the owner wouldn’t then be able to sell his bankrupt team for hundreds of millions of dollars, like he would if his team was preemptively ‘contracted.’

MLB knows all this. Contraction was a bargaining chip in 2001-02, and maybe it will be again. But it’s not at all realistic, and the Players Association shouldn’t have a problem calling MLB’s bluff.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

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