Collective Bargaining Talks Between Union, MLB to Resume on Sunday

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While some pundits are not ruling out a potential lockout in the coming weeks or months, representatives from both the players’ union and the MLB offices continue to make small strides towards a new collective bargaining agreement, and are optimistic that matters could be resolved quickly when both sides go back to the bargaining table on Sunday in Dallas after a five-day recess.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report the possibility of a lockout, indicating that a stoppage would put baseball’s daily business on hold, delaying free-agent signings and trades until a new agreement is reached. The winter meetings, a joint venture between the majors and minors scheduled to take place from December 4-8 in Maryland, might still happen, but without the usual high movement of major-league activity.

From the perspective of the MLB, however, although the current CBA expires on December 1, it wouldn’t necessarily cause a deadlock or a stalemate. Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the GM meetings earlier in the month that baseball will proceed under the old CBA until a new agreement is reached. In essence, the sides have the remainder of the offseason and through spring training to workout a tentative agreement.

From the players’ side, the most prominent issue at the moment is teams having to surrender a draft pick in relation to the rules revolving around the qualifying offer, while the league’s biggest desire is to have the union agree to an annual international draft.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports suggested that resolutions in the rules of MLB’s free agent process would make baseball “the freest free agency in sports.”

Both sides are also discussing the possibility of adjusting the luxury tax threshold, with the league conceivably agreeing to raise the cap from $189 million to $200 million. Six teams are projected to pay the tax this year, according to the Associated Press, at the $189 million threshold — the Yankees ($27 million), Dodgers ($25 million), Red Sox ($6 million), Tigers ($3.9 million), Cubs ($3.7 million), and Giants ($3 million).

Other issues being discussed are the length of the regular season schedule and the size of a club’s active roster. Some of the more common complaints surrounding the schedule involve how the existing 162-game campaign is jammed into six months. Players want more days off while claiming that travel has gotten tougher and more rigorous with day games after night games.

As far as the roster is concerned, the union would like to increase the size of the 25-man roster, claiming that it may prevent injuries and could give some players more rest while giving others more service time, especially in the event of lengthy extra-inning games or certain blowout types of games. An additional 4-5 players on the active roster, though, would certainly be more costly to the owners.

While there will always be imperfections in the system for both sides, the owners will continue to make a respectful profit as the players make a fantastic living. In the end, however, it seems as if the fans — the driving force of all the revenue generated for both sides — will continue to bear the burden of paying more dollars from their own pockets.

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