7:19 p.m.: The MLBPA and the league have agreed to resume talks at noon CT Sunday, according to multiple reports.
4:39 p.m.: Today’s negotiating sessions between the league and the MLB Players Association have concluded for the day, after a pair of separate meetings between the two parties. After each group conferred privately for an extended period, MLBPA representatives presented a new proposal to the owners during a 15-minute session. The owners group then took time to consider the offer before another meeting with the players which lasted around 45 minutes.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers, the union’s proposal was a “comprehensive” offer that addressed several fundamental economic issues (Twitter connections). Perhaps most importantly in terms of finding common ground on a new collective bargaining agreement, the MLBPA is “drastically backing down” on some of its most notable demands in previous deals. This includes changes to players’ previous luxury tax demands, an extension of Super Two eligibility, and reductions in the amount of revenue-sharing funds allocated to teams in smaller markets.
Despite these concessions, the bosses still “reacted badly” to the latest union offer, Athletic’s Evan Drellich reports. This led to an “outraged” reaction from the players and a “hostile” tone in the second meeting between the two teams. According to The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janesthe Players are currently considering stepping away from the table altogether,” rather than attending meetings scheduled for tomorrow and Monday.
As reported by ESPN’s Enrique Rojas (link in Spanish) and The Associated Press, the MLBPA is now seeking to expand Super Two eligibility to 35% of all players who have between two and three years of service. This represents a major decrease from the previous player demand of 75% of all players in this service time window, and yet, apparently, this is not enough to change the owners position. The league has firmly refused any expansion of the Super Two structure – in the last CBA, the top 22% of players with between two and three years of service time received an additional year of arbitration eligibility.
Likewise, the league has declined any discussion of changes to the revenue-sharing structure. The union first asked for a $100 million cut in revenue-sharing funds, then reduced that demand to $30 million. Today’s proposal altered this additional number, as teams receiving revenue sharing would not lose money, but would still have an incentive to increase local revenue with the supply of additional money made available by MLB’s central fund. However, the owners are still unwilling to budge on the matter.
Discussions on the competitive balance tax have at least given rise to back and forth, but without much progress. Players made a reduction of $2 million for each of the second, third and fourth years of the luxury tax thresholds, breaking down the numbers as follows: a tax number of $245 million in 2022, $250 million in 2023, $257 million in 2024, $264 million. in 2025 and $273 million in 2026.
The league made only one change to its base tax thresholds, with a $1 million increase for the CBA’s second year. The luxury tax thresholds proposed by the owners are $214 million in 2022, $215 million in 2023, $216 million in 2024, $218 million in 2025 and $222 million in 2026.
As for the penalties for exceeding those thresholds, Major League Baseball again made only slight adjustments from its previous offer. In today’s league proposal, teams surpassing each of the three tiers for the first time would pay a 45% tax on the excess of any dollar spent between $214 million and $234 million, a tax by 62% on the surpluses of 234 to 254 million dollars. , and a 95% tax rate on the excess for anything spent over $254 million. Previously, the league wanted respective tax rates of 50%, 75% and 100% for each of the three thresholds.
These are obviously still big jumps from the excess tax rates in the last CBA (20%, 32%, and 62.5%), and the league has made the penalty worse by asking teams that exceed the second and third tiers to lose the draft picks. The MLBPA adamantly opposed the owners’ luxury tax demands, viewing the demands as essentially the creation of an unofficial salary cap.
As Drellich and Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday, the league has sought to shorten the time needed before unilateral on-field rule changes can be imposed. The previous CBA had a one-year grace period between proposing a league and (whether or not the union agreed to the rule changes) implementing said new rules, although the owners are now seeking a grace period. grace of only 45 days. The MLBPA has resisted this shorter time window, and the league needs player approval at the next CBA to accept owners’ ability to implement unilateral rule changes of any kind.
Returning to the matter of service time, the league has agreed that players who finish first or second in the Rookie of the Year voting will receive a full year of service time. (Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among those breaking the news.) This counts as a minor victory for the players, although the MLBPA has considered a WAR-based formula for several players who excel in their rookie seasons to receive service time. The league had instead sought to address the service time manipulation issue by offering additional draft picks to teams that have players in the top three in the ROY/MVP/Cy Young vote in their first three seasons eligible to serve. arbitration.
If there’s another minor glimpse of good news from today’s meetings, an ABC issue has apparently been settled. Owners and players have agreed to a new rule on minor league options, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that players can now be sent to the minor leagues a maximum of five times per season.
Unfortunately, progress has apparently been lost on the subject of a lottery project. Reports from yesterday’s negotiating sessions indicated that the two sides were at least close to settling the exact number of teams involved in such a lottery, although the owners had tried to make a bigger lottery dependent (in accordance MLBPA requirements) of accepting a 14-team playoff. That same offer was floated by the league today and rejected by the players, who had previously expressed a desire to expand the playoffs to 12 teams. Given the amount of additional revenue involved in additional post-season games, it’s no surprise that the union is unwilling to make such a significant concession to the owners without tying it to a bigger issue than the draft. of lottery.
Saturday’s sessions mark the sixth consecutive day of talks between the two sides, but this increase in negotiations has yet to produce much concrete progress. MLB said without a CBA in place by Monday, some regular-season games will have to be canceled, though the union remained skeptical that the league really sees Feb. 28 as a firm deadline.
However, some spring training games have already been canceled and it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Opening Day will go ahead as planned on March 31. If the grudges allegedly generated in today’s meetings actually cause the talks to break down, it will only cause further consternation and frustration among baseball fans who are more than ready for the lockdown to be over.