MLB and Players Association continue discussions

The sixth straight day of negotiation talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association has produced little momentum, leaving just two days for a deal to be reached if the regular season is to open on the 31st. March as planned.

MLB has attempted to address players’ concerns about both alleged tanking and service time manipulation, offering historic changes in both areas.

The league proposed a draft lottery that would award the top six selections — two more than any other sports league — and agreed to implement part of the MLBPA’s plan to combat time-on-duty manipulation in addition to the his.

The league has agreed to award a full year of service to any player who places first or second in their league’s Rookie of the Year voting. This would encourage teams to promote top prospects as early as possible knowing they would get a full year of service time regardless of whether they were performing at their potential.

In return for the draft lottery and service time proposals, MLB had asked for an expanded postseason to 14 teams (the union is still proposing 12), as well as the ability to make on-field rule changes with 45 days’ notice rather than the current system, which requires either union agreement or a year’s notice. Those rule changes would be handled by a committee made up of six management officials, two MLBPA representatives and a referee.

“We solved the service time problem by combining their proposal with ours, a six-team lottery to combat tanking, and limiting the number of options to five in exchange for flexibility on rule changes. to improve the on-field product and extend the playoffs,” a league source said. “This is a package that would address their concerns about competitiveness that they’ve been talking about for years while also addressing our concerns about the product in the field.”

Earlier in the day, the MLBPA submitted a proposal in a number of areas, and while the numbers seem like a sign of progress, they’re still non-starters for owners.

The union lowered its demand for Super 2 eligibility for the top 75% of players with more than two years of service to 35%, but MLB has argued from the start that any change to the current system — which makes the 22% superiors of those players eligible for arbitration – will not occur.

The same applies to any change in revenue sharing; the players have withdrawn their proposal to cut revenue sharing by $30 million a year, but they still want changes to the system that the owners say are non-negotiable.

“If they don’t fix the Super 2 problem or the revenue sharing problem, we’re not going to do anything,” a league source said. “It’s not more complicated than that.”

Saturday’s MLBPA proposals did not include any action on minimum wages or a pre-arbitration bonus pool, two issues the union has raised in its most recent proposals.

Unlike Super 2 eligibility and revenue sharing, minimum wage and pre-arbitration bonus pools are issues that MLB was willing to address, so it was somewhat surprising that the AP did not tried to adjust these proposals.

The MLBPA also countered with a new Competitive Balance Tax proposal, making a minor change that would lower its proposed thresholds by $2 million each in 2023 and 24. The first-year and final-year thresholds of the players’ proposal remained unchanged.

MLB countered by proposing to raise the CBT threshold from $214 million to $215 million in 2023, also making minor adjustments to their proposed tax rates.

“They made a bad CBT proposal and we responded in kind,” a league source said.

The players have insisted from the start of negotiations that getting young players better paid earlier in their careers is one of the main goals of the union. Between league proposals for minimum wage increases and a pre-umpire bonus pool, MLB offered more than $250 million in additional compensation to pre-umpire players during a five-year deal .

The two sides plan to meet Sunday afternoon in Jupiter, Fla., their seventh consecutive day of negotiations.

MLB instituted a Monday deadline for a deal to have the regular season open as scheduled on March 31, giving the league and players’ union two more days to reach a deal.

Earlier this month, commissioner Rob Manfred said that based on injury data and experience from the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, spring training should last at least four weeks so that the players are preparing properly for the season.

Andrew B. Reiter