Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reportedly made progress toward an agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement that would end the owner-imposed lockout after a marathon negotiating session Monday that lasted until the early morning hours. MLB had originally created a deadline of Monday (Feb. 28) to reach an agreement before canceling regular-season games and postponing 2022 Opening Day. The league’s self-imposed deadline, however, has been pushed back until 5 pm ET Tuesday, according to Jeff Passan of ESPNand the sides will continue to talk throughout the day.
MLB and the MLBPA spent more than 16 hours at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, on Monday before calling it a night around 2:30 am ET. As far as the progress made during the marathon sessions on Monday / Tuesday early morning, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there’s “definite progress,” but “large gaps remain in major areas.”
MLB began Monday’s negotiations by informing the MLBPA it is willing to miss a month’s worth of games and took a more threatening tone, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic. Multiple reports, several hours later, said the two sides ended up agreeing on a 12-team expanded playoff format. However, the matter of the competitive balance tax (aka the luxury tax) threshold – and the relating penalties for exceeding said threshold – discussions were ongoing.
Where MLB, MLBPA are still apart
- Competitive Balance Tax: Baseball’s “luxury tax” has been a sticking point in talks. Owners want to keep the CBT threshold low and the penalties high, so it serves as a de-facto salary cap. The MLBPA is looking to increase the threshold to the $ 230 million range, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Owners want that number closer to $ 220 million.
- Minimum salary: The MLBPA has been pushing to raise the league’s minimum salary – the lowest of the US’s four major men’s sports in 2021 at $ 575,500 – to above $ 700,000 range for 2022. MLB’s latest offer went to $ 675,000, per Drellich.
- Bonus pool for pre-arbitration players: Another way the union wants to get younger players paid is through a bonus pool for top-preforming players who are not yet eligible for arbitration (meaning they have less than three years of service time). MLB’s latest figure for the bonus pool was $ 25 million, per Heyman.
More trivial matters such as defensive shifting restrictions were also reportedly part of discussions. In all, there were 13 separate face-to-face meetings between the two sides at the spring training facility on Monday. The bottom line is there’s a shred of hope the season begins as planned on March 31, but there’s still heavy lifting to be done on Tuesday when the parties reconvene.
CBS Sports has provided a timeline of the lockout here, but the short version is that the owners placed the padlocks on when the previous CBA expired on Dec. 1 – exactly three months ago. They were under no obligation to do so, but it was labeled as a defensive maneuver. The league then waited more than six weeks to make its first proposal. The two sides have since had a number of in-person negotiations, with some of the main sticking points including the Competitive Balance Tax; revenue sharing; the breakdown of players who qualify for Super Two status in arbitration; and the league-minimum salary.
CBS Sports is providing live updates on Tuesday’s negotiations. You can follow along below.