For the first time since the owners locked out the players 43 days ago, MLB and the MLBPA discussed core economic matters in a video meeting Thursday. It is the first substantial bargaining session since the work stoppage began. The two sides discussed other non-economic matters last month, though the topics discussed Thursday will ultimately determine when the lockout ends.
MLB made an economics proposal during Thursday's session, which ended around 2 p.m. ET, and it was not received well by the union, report The Athletic's Evan Drellich and ESPN's Jeff Passan. Here are some details on MLB's proposal:
- Raising the minimum salary and making more money available to Super Two players, a subset of players who quality for arbitration four times rather than the usual three based on their service time. (per MLB Network's Jon Heyman).
- Draft pick bonuses for teams that do not manipulate the service time of top prospects. (per Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith)
- Adjustments to the league's previously proposed draft lottery. (per Passan)
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A deal was never going to be struck Thursday -- this session was intended to reignite talks -- and the question now is how quickly the MLBPA will submit a counterproposal. It is unknown when the two sides will hold another bargaining session. Here is a partial recap of each side's final economic proposal prior to the lockout, based on multiple reports:
|MLB proposed||MLBPA proposed|
Gradually raising the luxury-tax threshold to $220 million by 2026
Raising the luxury-tax threshold to $245 million
Pay-for-play arbitration system and free agency for all at age 29.5
Free agency at five years of service time and age 29.5, or six years of service time, whichever comes first
Eliminating draft pick compensation for free agents
Service-time bonuses for All-Star Game selections, awards, etc.
Expanded 14-team postseason
Expanded 12-team postseason
Draft lottery for top three picks
Draft lottery with a market size component
Baseball is a $10 billion a year industry and how that $10 billion is distributed is at the center of the lockout. Among other things, the MLBPA is seeking to put more money into the pockets of young players, who make up an increasingly larger share of the game's player pool. Also, the union hopes to curb anti-competitive behavior (i.e. tanking).
Whenever the lockout ends, there will need to be a period to wrap up offseason business, including arbitration, the Rule 5 Draft, and securing visas for players in other countries. There's much more to it than trades and free agency. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report about one month from now, meaning a delayed start to camp is becoming a real possibility.
The date to watch: Opening Day, March 31. That's when everyone's feet will be put to the fire. Players are not paid in spring training and spring revenue is a relative drop in the bucket for teams. It may be that real progress on the new CBA will not be made until regular season paychecks and revenue are on the line.
The collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1, and the lockout began almost immediately. The owners voted unanimously in favor of a lockout earlier in the day. This is MLB's first work stoppage since the 1994-95 players' strike.