It’s been a week since MLB’s self-imposed deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) passed, and the league took action by cancelling the first two series of the season.
At the time everything felt grim. It was unclear when the league and the Players Association would get back to the bargaining table, and there was no reason to be optimistic about what would transpire once they did.
Well ... things still look grim, but they’re a little bit less grim. The two sides have been bargaining once more, and details are emerging that suggest that they’re a good bit closer to a deal than they were this time last week.
Which is good because we’ve got another deadline to contend with.
Another deadline come and gone. It is now Wednesday morning. The new deadline is now Wednesday afternoon for the two sides to reach an agreement before #MLB cancels another week of games.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 9, 2022
The two sides remain apart on one of the stickiest subjects — the competitive balance tax — but they seem to be closing in on some common ground.
Per sources: MLB’s latest offer starts at $228m in ‘23, goes to $238m.— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) March 8, 2022
•Increased CBT comes in exchange for 45-day notice on rules changes, possible penalty for excessive spending.
•Showed willingness to go to $50 million in player pool in exchange for 14-team postseason.
MLB’s proposed luxury tax thresholds now start at $230 million and run to $242 million, sources tell me and @ByMcCullough. But there remain strings attached to CBT and other issues players are concerned with in MLB’s offer. Full proposal not immediately known.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
The other biggest sticking point — minimum salaries — is also inching closer towards a compromise.
MLB's written proposal has been submitted to the union. Everything remains fluid as they negotiate deep into the night:— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 9, 2022
_Luxury tax: $230 million that escalates to about $242 million.
_Minimum salary: $700,000 that escalates to about $770,000
_Pre-arbitration pool: $40 million
It’s worth issuing the reminder that just because the numbers are nearing a point of agreement doesn’t mean there aren’t other obstacles keeping the two sides from putting pen to paper with a new CBA.
A big issue, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal: MLB wants to add a new surchage level to the luxury tax. Right now, there are three levels: base, first surcharge, and second surcharge. Now MLB wants to put in a third to deter owners who have a mind to spend well above the pack.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
Another major part of MLB’s proposal: MLB is tying removal of the qualifying offer to instituting an international draft.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
And while it seemed for a while like all the concessions would have to come from the players if a deal was to be reached, the owners are now showing some willingness to back off of some of their over-the-top proposals.
The MLB proposal tonight is for 12 playoff teams— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) March 9, 2022
In MLB’s proposal, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal, all rule changes MLB would want could be expedited, not just select ones like pitch clock, larger bases and shift. Can’t be expedited in season though — only in offseason— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Draft lottery at 6 picks. MLB was at 5 previously.
The amount of details we’re getting — and some of it on minutiae — is encouraging. It suggests the sides are having meaningful discussions with good faith negotiations. In hindsight, last week’s negotiations never seemed to get close, and it was just the owners attempting to put pressure on the players through public quotes about a closeness that never existed.
Now things do seem closer, though there’s still a very long ways to go.
If the two sides can wrap things up soon, the league’s goal is to still play 162 games, and to maintain a normal season’s service time and pay.
Sources: MLB, MLBPA lawyers met today, planning to meet again tomorrow. MLB has suggested Tuesday as deadline, in its eyes, for 3 things: play 162 games, and for players to get full pay & full service time. But, pay/service/sked can’t be unilaterally chosen—needs to be negotiated— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 8, 2022
That would not mean un-canceling the canceled games, and having the San Francisco Giants open the season on March 31. Instead, it would likely come in the form of doubleheaders, and maybe some added games at the end of the schedule.
We could have baseball soon. “Could” is the operative word, but I’m not here to stop anyone from being optimistic.
And now we wait.