A heated 90-minute negotiating session Tuesday between Major League Baseball and the players union produced little progress, leaving the two sides barely any closer than they were two months ago – before the lockout – making it almost a certainty that spring training will be delayed.
This was only their fourth negotiating session since Dec. 1 before the lockout was imposed, and although the two sides are finally talking again after a 43-day hiatus, little been accomplished.
Just two weeks remain before spring training is scheduled to start for pitchers and catchers in Arizona and Florida on Feb. 16, but unless there’s an agreement in about a week, a delay will be inevitable.
In their first negotiating session in a week, the union lowered its bonus pool proposal for non-eligible arbitration players from $105 million to $100 million while MLB has offered $10 million. It also sought to give a full year of service time to players who rank among the top-20 ranked by WAR instead of the top 30. The union also made a modification to MLB’s proposal that would reward a draft pick to a team to help avert service-time manipulation.
There was absolutely no movement on the gulf-sized difference in the minimum salaries ($775,000 to $615,000) or the luxury tax thresholds ($245 million to $214 million), that includes penalties that are nearly twice as great as the last collective bargaining agreement, the union argues.
MLB is expected to respond, likely by the end of the week, but with progress painfully slow, the real deadline may be by the end of February to prevent the 2022 regular season from being delayed.
The two sides are so far apart that while MLB insists their proposals make it a much better deal for players than the last collective bargaining agreement, providing more money to players across the board – particularly the younger players – the union argues that it’s worse.
The only major changes since their talks originally began last summer is that the union has dropped its request to lower free agency from six years to five years while MLB has eliminated its proposal to eliminate salary arbitration.
The stalemate, just as it was in December, and again in January, is continuing in February.