MLB lockdown: Players submit counter-offer to owners and negotiations set to continue this week, reports say

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The MLB Players Association met with Major League Baseball negotiating representatives Monday in New York in a bid to end the ongoing owner lockdown that has brought baseball to a halt. MLB initiated the work stoppage Dec. 2 upon the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which is the binding agreement that governs nearly every aspect of the player-team working relationship. As expected, the union at this meeting presented a counter-proposal to what the owners proposed on January 13.

Via reporting by Evan Drellich of The Athletichere are the three main conclusions of the latest framework proposed by the actors for a new ABC:

  • More importantly, Drellich reports that players are no longer demanding that free agency be tied to a player’s age rather than (or in addition to) their length of MLB service. Currently, players are only eligible for free agency after six full years of MLB service.
  • The union also revised previous proposals regarding revenue sharing among MLB clubs.
  • The players are still proposing to reduce the eligibility period for arbitration from three years to two years.

The ideas the players are now putting forward contrast with what the owners recently offered on January 13, which Drellich says the players rejected – perhaps outright rejected – in Monday’s talks:

  • Raise the minimum wage and make more money available to Super Two players, a subset of players who qualify for arbitration four times instead of the usual three based on their time on duty. (by Jon Heyman of MLB Network).
  • Draft pick bonuses for teams that don’t manipulate the service time of top prospects. (by Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet)
  • Adjustments to the draft lottery previously proposed by the league. (by Jeff Passan of ESPN)

All of these ideas flow to some extent from what both parties argued before the landlord lockout:

PROPOSED MLB PROPOSED MLBPA

Gradually raise the luxury tax threshold to $220 million by 2026

Luxury tax threshold raised to $245 million

Paid arbitration system and free will for all to 29.5 years

Free agent at five years service time and 29.5 years, or six years service time, whichever comes first

Elimination of draft compensation for free agents

Service time bonuses for All-Star Game selections, awards, etc.

Playoffs expanded to 14 teams

Playoffs expanded to 12 teams

Draw for the first three choices

Lottery project with a market size component

Monday’s discussions also revealed two potential causes for at least moderate optimism that there is some momentum towards a deal:

And:

Basically, all of these proposals and discussions have focused on what has become known as the series of “fundamental economic problems” facing baseball. Since the average salary of players has fallen in the face of ever-increasing franchise values, the union wants to change the economic structure of the game by making young players pay more and earlier. These young players have become a stronger presence in the contemporary game largely because they are so underpaid in their pre-arbitration and pre-free agency years, hence their appeal to game owners. team.

From a union perspective, the clearest path to address this imbalance would be a significant increase in the minimum wage while seeking to lower the bar for arbitration eligibility to two years (where it was at the start of the existence of the treat). In addition, discussions were held on how to deal with the phenomenon of “tanking” among the teams and on the status of the luxury tax on salaries in the future – i.e. if the threshold of tax will be raised and by how much. As for the issue of revenue sharing, that is a cause for concern because the transfer of such a large percentage of local revenue from teams in large markets to clubs in smaller markets has essentially guaranteed the profitability of the latter, regardless of either the type of team they put on the field. From a union point of view, this is the heart of the issue of income sharing:

In general terms, owners are of course largely content with the status quo, which is why they have shown little willingness to address these fundamental issues.

This January 13 meeting mentioned above was the first face-to-face meeting between the two parties since the foreclosure began on December 2 – a delay due to the slowness of the owners’ negotiations. Commissioner Rob Manfred in his open letter explaining the reason for the work stoppage imposed by the owner wrote: “We hope the lockout will kick-start negotiations and bring us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time.” Then, however, the owners took 43 days to submit their first post-lockdown proposal. This relatively quick player response quickens that pace, but now that it’s owners’ turn again, they can also stall again.

Regardless of the near future, the clock continues to turn, as spring training matches are scheduled for February 26. As our Mike Axisa recently wrote, de facto the deadlines for normal 2022 spring training and a regular season are fast approaching.

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