For the first time in over a month, MLB and the MLB Players Association met on Thursday to negotiate a deal. As expected, no agreement was reached. The MLBPA was discouraged by the owners’ bargaining according to multiple reports.
MLB’s proposal reportedly included a formulaic system that helps players with at least two years of service time earn more money, a draft pick incentive for teams that don’t manipulate service time, and tweaks to the proposed draft lottery. It did not propose any changes to free agency, revenue sharing or the competitive balance tax — all MLBPA priorities.
No follow-up bargaining session was immediately scheduled, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported.
Despite the lack of progress, the two sides returning to the negotiating table is a positive. It’s now the players’ turn to counter-offer as a late-February spring training starts looks more untenable with every unproductive day.
The newest detail in MLB proposal is the elimination the salary arbitration process for Super Two players. Currently, a small group of second-year players are eligible for arbitration. The MLB instead proposed a formula that could pay those players more, but removing the arbitration system at all is likely unpopular with the MLBPA, which wants to increase the number of arbitration-eligible players.
The MLBPA and MLB have also gone back and forth on a lottery-style Draft format, but there’s distance on how many picks should be affected, according to The Athletic. Relatedly, the league proposed rewarding team with amateur or international draft pick compensation of a player on their top-100 prospect list qualified for certain major league awards.
Notably, the MLB continued to include an expanded 14-team playoff field and the universal designated hitter in their offer. It also kept its minimum salary proposal the same — between $600,000 and $700,000 — which likely irked the MLBPA.
MLB remains committed to keeping free agency at six years of service time, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman — a blow to the MLBPA’s goals. Heyman also noted MLB could be open to negotiating the CBT and free agency reform at a later point.
The lockout imposed by commissioner Rob Manfred was supposed to expedite negotiations. Instead, this is the first time the two sides talked core economics since Dec. 2. And as Passan tweeted, the lockout’s slow burn jeopardizes an on-time spring training — and, logically, Opening Day.