League, the owners make a new proposal; players say they are disappointed

Rob Manfred promised a “good deal” on Saturday as Major League Baseball returned to the bargaining table against the MLB Players Association. The general reaction of players who were locked out by the commissioner on Dec. 2: Not good enough.

And now, not only will spring training certainly be delayed, but an on-time start to the regular season could be in jeopardy.

In the first meeting of the parties on the basic economy in 11 days, MLB representatives and the owners made a wide-ranging proposal that went slightly in the direction of the players, although still far from the midpoint between the parties, on minimum wage, competitive-equilibrium tax threshold (luxury) and a bonus pool for newbie players (pre-arbitration), among other issues, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the talks. The union is expected to review the offer and decide on next steps, but sources have described the players as disappointed with the changes.

Pitchers and receivers are scheduled to report to spring training Tuesday and Wednesday. Although MLB hasn’t officially announced a delay and owners can vote to end the lockout at any time, Manfred said Thursday the camps won’t open until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. and ratified.

READ MORE: Minor league players on 40-player rosters are the untold stories of the MLB lockout

The focus is now on the regular season. Opening day is scheduled for March 31. Based on Manfred’s stated timeline of a few days between a deal and the opening of camps and spring training lasting at least four weeks, the sides likely have around 10-12 days to reach an agreement. . Manfred said last week that missing regular season games would be “a disastrous outcome for this industry.”

It was never expected that Saturday’s meeting would lead to an agreement. But both sides hoped MLB’s first proposal since Jan. 25 would lead to a narrowing of the chasm that exists between them on most matters relating to the economy, particularly when it comes to higher pay for young players. and competitive balance. If the sides are closer, the movement seems to be minimal.

Among the changes in MLB’s proposal, according to sources:

— The luxury tax threshold in the last three years of the five-year ABC would be pushed to $216 million, $218 million and $222 million, from $214 million, $216 million and $220 million. (The mark would remain at $214 million this year and next.) Players have been looking for a $245 million threshold this year.

– Also on CBT, selection penalties for exceeding the threshold have been reduced slightly from the owners’ previous proposal, but the actual tax rates are still worse than in the existing agreement. The league said a tax rate hike was needed to make up for its concession to eliminate draft compensation for free agents who receive a qualifying offer.

– MLB offered two minimum wage options: $630,000 for first-year major leaguers with possible increases at the teams’ discretion in the second and third years, up from $570,500 in 2021, but a number which remains lower than that of the NFL ($660,000), NHL ($750,000) and NBA ($925,258); or fixed salaries of $615,000, $650,000 and $725,000 (compared to $700,000 in the previous proposal). Players were looking for a minimum of $775,000.

–An increase to $15 million (from $10 million) in the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players. In their most recent proposal, made on February 1, the players launched a bonus pool of $100 million, up from $105 million previously.

MLB’s proposal covered other economic issues but did not address revenue sharing, a point of contention in the negotiations. Players want a cut in revenue share dollars for owners who don’t reinvest the money back into their rosters. Manfred said last week that changes to the existing revenue-sharing system “will, without a doubt, lead to less competition, not more.”

READ MORE: Phillies’ Alec Bohm and players like him have already lost a lot to MLB lockdown

Saturday marked the 73rd day of the lockdown, but only the fifth in-person trading session on the economy since late November. MLB recently requested federal mediation, but the players declined third-party intervention and demanded that the league return to the table with the counteroffer that was finally made on Saturday.

“You’re still one breakthrough away from getting a deal,” Manfred said Thursday. “It’s the art of this process. Someone makes a gesture. That’s why we’ll be making additional moves on Saturday that will create flexibility on the other side, and what seemed like a big gap on this or that topic isn’t such a big gap anymore.

Major gaps remain. Where the situation goes from here is unclear. That’s all but certain: It won’t lead to Florida and Arizona for spring training this week.

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