TEMPE, Ariz. -- Although it's a long way off, when the Basic Agreement expires at the end of 2011, Don Fehr said Tuesday he thinks a hard salary cap would be a non-starter in those negotiations.
Fehr, the executive director of the Players Association, discussed the idea of a salary cap after a 90-minute meeting with the Angels, the first stop on his tour of Cactus League camps. Fehr's point of view comes on the heels of two owners -- Mark Attanasio of the Brewers and John Henry of the Red Sox -- who said this past offseason that Major League Baseball needed a salary cap when the Basic Agreement expires.
"We've been down this road before and we saw where this led us," Fehr said during a 25-minute interview with about a half-dozen members of the media. "We spent an awful lot of time after the strike and again in 2002 and 2006, tying revenue sharing to the competitive balance tax and the free-agency system.
"It's difficult for me to envision a situation where we'd make a wholesale change in the system. It's nearly impossible for me believe that the players would be in favor of a salary cap."
Though some owners have spoken out, Commissioner Bud Selig has demurred this year when asked specifically about a possible salary cap. Basketball, hockey and football all utilize salary caps in some fashion.
In baseball, there's a competitive balance threshold, which this season is set at $162 million per club. Any team with a player payroll above that figure must pay a tax on the amount of money it spends over the threshold. Sharing of locally generated revenue is set at 31 percent from the large revenue-generating clubs to the smaller ones.
For 2008, when the threshold was $155 million, the Yankees and Tigers paid a tax. The Yankees, paying a 40-percent repeater's rate, were assessed $23.9 million. The Tigers, paying a first-time rate of 22.5 percent, were charged $1.3 million. Since the tax was formalized in 2003, the Yanks are the only team that has been beyond the threshold every year.
Selig said last month that he'll worry about the salary cap issue when collective bargaining resumes, perhaps as early as next year.
"The [next-to-] last year of my commissionership will be devoted to that," said Selig, whose current contract expires after the 2012 season. "So there's no sense in me sitting here today and engaging them on [a salary cap]. We'll just watch how the system develops and what we need to do."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.