Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are three days in to a week of discussions to get a new collective bargaining agreement before there are games lost in the regular season.
Although it had been widely thought, MLB officially announced today that Monday, February 28th is a hard deadline for no games to be lost during the season. If no agreement is reached by that date, then MLB says that games will be lost. Furthermore, those games will not be made up, and paychecks will not be issued to players at a later date.
MLBPA said that if that is to the be that, then MLB will not get the expanded playoffs that they very much want.
In the three days that they have been not meeting, not much headway has been made in the discussions.
A little breakdown of where the times are currently at – MLB would like the minimum salary to be $640,000 per season, and the MLBPA would like to see it raised to $775,000. The Competitive Balance Tax threshold was $210M in 2021 and for this season would be $214M; the MLBPA would like it raised to $245M. And the pre-arbitration bonus pool is where the two sides are most far apart – MLB is at just $20M whereas the MLBPA have counter offered with $115M.
Insomuch, MLB’s only counter offer so far is to raise the minimum salary $10,000 per year, with this season being $640,000 and going up to $680,000 by 2026. They also withdrew their proposal for an alternate minimum system that was tiered based on service time.
As players are entering the big leagues younger and younger, the MLBPA is fighting for less time that players would have to wait to reach free agency and get their deserved contracts.
On Tuesday, the MLBPA proposed lowered arbitration eligibility from 80% to 75% of players with more than two years eligibility, going from eight teams to seven teams in a draft lottery, and the increase in minimum salary to $775,00 in first year, going up $30,000 in subsequent years.
MLB maintains that any change to arbitration eligibility is a non-starter for them.
Spring Training camps are not dependent on the two sides reaching a deal, as MLB has imposed this lockout, and it is not a strike by the players. The owners are working to force the players into agreeing to their terms by taking Baseball away. So far, it does not seem to be working. The MLBPA is ready to lose games, and pay, for more fair conditions for the players going forward.
Unless a lot of movement is made in the next four days, the full regular season is in peril. As discussions have been slow going so far this weekend, baseball is still seemingly far away.
For further reading, Jeff Passan has an excellent thread on Twitter about the negotiations