As day 90 of the lockout dawns, some of baseball’s top reporters share the hope that the owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) are making significant progress on a collective bargaining agreement.
According to a report from Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers from ESPN, the two sides met for 16 hours yesterday, and have moved the deadline for missing regular-season games to 5 P.M. EST on Tuesday, March 1st. The previous deadline imposed by MLB was February 28th.
Yesterday’s negotiation provided many fans with the first sign of hope in nearly three months. After serious threats from MLB, the two sides entered intense negotiations that went into the late hours of February 28th. Apart from videos of the two sides walking back and forth, here are the main updates.
A large point of contention during the lockout has been the handling of leaguewide minimum salary, and the amount of money in the pre-arbitration pool. The MLBPA is hoping to secure higher pay for future players in the league and has stood strong on this stance. A higher minimum salary would ensure players entering the league are financially secure, while a larger pre-arbitration pool would reward the top 30 pre-arbitration players for their performance. While the two sides have not have reached an agreement, there has been movement:
Sources: Deal not close, but not impossible. CBT thresholds, prearb pool big issues, among others. MLB has proposed two choices:
A: 14-team expanded postseason, minimum of ~$700k, ~40m into prearb pool
B: 12-team expanded postseason, ~$675k minimum, ~$20m into prearb pool
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 1, 2022
The two sides have reached agreement on a 12-team playoff pool but still are apart on the luxury tax threshold ($220 million) minimum salary($675,000) and pre-arbitration bonus pool ($25 million). They will meet again in the morning with 5 pm deadline
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 1, 2022
MLB and MLBPA continue to discuss the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) as well, which was introduced to decrease anti-competitive behavior and provide a more equal playing field in the amount of money a team can spend on their roster. The players are hoping to increase the CBT to $230 million. MLB has been slower to reach that number but is currently at $220 million. Though Evan Drellich reports there is still a lot of work to be done, there is movement and these topics are being heavily discussed.
MLBPA doesn’t feel any major area done. MLB’s CBT starts at $220m, prearb bonus pool at $20 m, and minimum salary at $675k. Players want higher numbers.
MLB’s CBT proposal:
New: MLB is OK not increasing CBT tax rates
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 1, 2022
One of the main issues up for negotiation has been expanding MLB’s playoff format. MLB has previously expressed interest in expanding the number of playoff teams in hopes of a longer postseason that will earn more profit. As of now, it seems that MLB is hoping for a 14-team playoff format, while the players have countered with a 12-team playoff format.
One of the main criticisms of the proposed 14-team playoff format is that teams who played sub-.500 baseball would sneak in. This experiment found that this format would have allowed below-average teams in previous years’ postseasons. From updates, it seems that the players may be united against the change.
Hearing now that players are resistant as a group to 14 teams in the playoffs, and it’s not just 1, 2 or a few against it. Theres’s “widespread consensus” not to go to 14 postseason teams.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 1, 2022
From reports, the MLBPA is proposing a 12-team playoff format. This means the playoffs would feature three division winners and three wild card teams from each league.
Though these updates are exciting news, a deal has not been struck. Negotiations are set to begin again at 11 A.M. EST, and the two sides will continue to deliberate on the CBT, minimum league salary, and the pre-arbitration bonus pool. Further, MLB still wants to speak on topics such as the international draft pool, direct draft pick compensation, and the draft lottery.
There is still work to be done, but yesterday’s 16-hour negotiation marathon was the first sign of hope in a while. It seems that both MLB and the MLBPA feel the pressure of missing out on regular-season games and are beginning to find ways to meet in the middle. If negotiations go well today, we hopefully will be celebrating the return of baseball by the end of the week.
Photo by Icon Sportswire