Thursday marked the fourth consecutive day of bargaining between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association. The two sides are meeting every day this week in Jupiter, Florida, in an effort to reach an agreement that will end the owner-initiated lockout. MLB says Opening Day will be delayed and regular season games will be canceled if there's no deal by Monday, Feb. 28.
The big takeaway from all the reports on site for Thursday's meetings would be that very little progress was made. Again.
More specifically, the players presented two prongs of a deal for a new CBA:
- MLBPA, on the matter of service time manipulation, proposed granting service time to "fewer players than before, narrowing the scope of it," per Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
- MLBPA made minor tweaks to their proposed seven-pick lottery (see below for more on that). They altered their proposal regarding the draft order to reduce penalties on small-market teams posting consecutive losing seasons, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.
Presumably, the remainder of the players' asks remain the same.
Perhaps the biggest news was that the owners seemed wholly unimpressed or even angry, based upon sourcing from many different reporters at the meeting site (one report said the owners claim to "have run out of ideas.")
Here's a rundown of what the owners proposed earlier this week:
- Add $10,000 to their previous minimum salary proposal. MLB is now offering $640,000 in 2022 with $10,000 raises each year. The MLBPA is seeking $775,000 in 2022 with $30,000 raises each year. The minimum salary was $570,500 in 2021.
- Raise the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players (a new concept) to $20 million. MLB previously offered $15 million for the top 30 players. The MLBPA is now seeking a $115 million bonus pool to split among the top 150 players.
- Draft lottery for the top four picks. MLB previously offered a lottery for the top three picks only. The union previously wanted the top eight picks to be decided by a lottery, then reduced it to the top seven picks.
- Rescinded their request to reduce the number of minor-league roster spots, as well as their offer to limit optional assignments to the minor leagues to five per season, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Neither side has made a new competitive balance tax (i.e. luxury tax) proposal this week. MLB is offering only a $2 million raise to the threshold with more punitive penalties (higher tax rate and more draft pick penalties). The MLBPA is seeking to raise the threshold to $245 million in 2022. The luxury tax threshold was $210 million in 2022. More on that here.
The union has indicated they will not agree to an expanded postseason format for 2022 if they do not play a 162-game season are not given the opportunity to earn their full salaries. The expanded postseason is said to be worth $100 million or so in additional revenue to MLB. The MLBPA proposed a 12-team postseason earlier this offseason. MLB is seeking a 14-team format.
The two sides have met for several hours each day this week, with the days split into face-to-face bargaining sessions and time spent in separate rooms to caucus and formulate proposals. MLB and the MLBPA are expected to continue meeting daily up until MLB's Feb. 28 deadline, which is not an official deadline of any sorts, and a deadline the union may not agree with.
It should be noted MLB can lift the lockout at any time, allowing baseball to return and the season to be played. The National Labor Relations Act would require the two sides to operate under the terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement while continuing good faith negotiations. MLB have given no indication they are willing to lift the lockout under those terms.
At 85 days and counting, this is the second longest work stoppage in baseball history, behind only the 1994-95 players' strike (232 days). Spring training was reduced to roughly three weeks and Opening Day was pushed back one week following the strike.