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Sunday marked the seventh consecutive day in which representatives from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association were set to meet each in hopes to at least close the gap in negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. (We say "at least" because the ultimate goal would be to come to terms on a new agreement, triggering an end to the owner-mandated lockout.) 

MLB has said Feb. 28 is the latest they can reach a deal for a new CBA without delaying Opening Day (currently scheduled for March 31), though the MLBPA might not ultimately agree if things bleed into next week. A league spokesperson told reporters, including The Athletic's Evan Drellich, that games will be canceled without being made up after Feb. 28. As a reminder, the owners could lift the lockout and big-league spring training could begin nearly immediately while the two sides continue to negotiate. To this point, however, there is zero indication the owners are willing to do this.

Commissioner Rob Manfred made his first appearance of the week on Friday. Additionally, the two sides made progress on the draft lottery, suggesting one item is close to being put to rest. On Saturday, the MLBPA presented the league with a comprehensive package of counter proposals following a Zoom call with the player team reps.

On Sunday, the sides met until the early evening with an agreement to continue talking on Monday morning. An MLB official classified the day's talks as "productive," according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. The union, for its part, told ESPN's Jesse Rogers that they're far from an agreement and that nothing was settled

It's notable that no formal proposals were made, and the sides remain "far apart" on significant issues, per Nightengale. Drellich, meanwhile, added that neither side thought Sunday brought "significant momentum" or a "breakthrough." Also according to Drellich, the league offered to eliminate draft-pick compensation in exchange for higher CBT rates. (The league was said to be willing to up the CBT threshold, too, albeit not by much.) The union, on the other hand, floated a "ghost win" format to an expanded, 12-team postseason, according to Ken Rosenthal. The league, per Rosenthal, was not receptive to the idea.

As way of a reminder, here's what happened on Saturday:

  • Most significantly, the union dropped its requested percentage of players eligible for "super two" arbitration -- i.e., salary arbitration for those players with between two and three years of MLB service time -- from 75 percent to 35 percent (source: Evan Drellich of the Athletic). MLB, meantime, wants to retain the 22 percent figure from the most recent CBA. 
  • Regarding the competitive balance tax (a.k.a., the luxury tax on high team payrolls), both sides made small movements: 
  • The players also made moves on their desire to see revenue sharing altered, but MLB continues to resist any adjustment to the system. Players had most recently been pressing for a $30 million reduction to the revenue sharing pool, which was down drastically from the original $100 million requested reduction. Now the union is proposing to actually increase the amount of revenues transferring from large-market to small-market teams via an incentive-based pool.  
  • Per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, MLB has proposed granting a full year of service time to any player finishing first or second in the Rookie of the Year balloting. 
  • While there's some common ground on the structure of a possible draft lottery, MLB wants it tied to an expanded 14-team playoff field. The MLBPA, meantime, is offering a 12-team expanded postseason. 

In the end, both sides came away unsatisfied with what the other side offered up as time continues to run out: 

Additionally, Drellich characterized the second meeting of the day as "hostile." 

Finally, here's a rundown of what was on the table entering Saturday:

  • The MLBPA wants to 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.
  • MLBPA would like to raise the proposed 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.
  • MLBPA wants a draft lottery for the top seven 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. Thursday, reports indicated there might be some mechanism in place to punish larger-market teams finishing well below .500 for consecutive seasons. We aren't yet sure of the specific details, but, as mentioned above, this issue seems to be pretty well decided. 

As for the Competitive Balance Tax, one of the largest sticking points in negotiations, Saturday occasioned the first time either side has moved on the issue.