Major League Baseball is expected to cancel another week of regular-season games soon after negotiations Sunday provided little movement toward a deal to end its 95-day lockout.
The biggest change Sunday was that the players union gave MLB the right to implement rule changes with a 45-day notice instead of a full year, allowing a pitch clock, a shift ban and enlarged bases in 2023, but not an automated strike zone.
Yet, critical gulf-sized economic differences remain with no quick resolution in sight.
“We were hoping to see some movement in our direction to give us additional flexibility and get a deal done quickly,” MLB spokesman Glen Caplin said. “The Players Association chose to come back to us with a proposal that was worse than (last) Monday night and was not designed to move the process forward. On some issues, they even went backwards.
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“Simply put, we are deadlocked. We will try to figure out how to respond but nothing in this proposal makes it easy.”
The union strongly disagreed with MLB’s characterization, saying it has already made major concessions in negotiations:
— Agreeing to expanded playoffs to 12 teams, but not 14.
— Allowing clubs to put patches and decals on uniforms and helmets worth an estimated $170 million.
— Giving MLB the right to unilaterally implement rule changes with a 45-day notice instead of a year.
— Dropping the request to expand the Super 2 arbitration-eligibility class and to reach free agency earlier if a certain age.
— No longer seeking a $100 million reduction in revenue sharing or a change to the draft system.
— And agreeing to drop their request to eliminate non-monetary luxury tax penalties.
MLB, of course, will tell you it has made more concessions during talks, with nearly a $500 million increase in wages from the last collective bargaining agreement:
— Implementing a universal DH.
— Providing a 23% increase in minimum salary.
—Creating a bonus pool.
— Installing mechanisms to curb service-time manipulation
— Producing a five-team draft lottery to help stop teams from tanking.
— Eliminating qualifying offers for free agents.
Meanwhile, the beat goes on, with MLB executives chastising the union’s proposal.
The union on Sunday lowered its request from an $85 million pre-arbitration bonus pool to $80 million, compared with MLB’s proposal of $30 million.
It did not alter its proposals on the luxury tax thresholds and minimum salary.
The union is seeking a $238 million luxury tax threshold in 2022 that would escalate to $263 million by the end of the collective bargaining agreement in five years, while MLB has offered a $220 million threshold that increases to $230 million — a total difference of $127 million.
MLB has offered to raise the minimum salary from $570,500 to $700,000, with $10,000 increases each year. The union is seeking a $725,000 minimum in 2022, $745,000 in 2023, $765,000 in 2024 and $765,000 plus the consumer price index in 2025 and 2026.
The union said during the 1 hour, 40-minute session that it would no longer seek to eliminate draft pick penalties on teams exceeding the last two tiers of the luxury tax, providing MLB eliminates the qualifying offer system for the signing of free agents. Teams will no longer be required to forfeit draft picks for signing free-agent players who had received qualifying offers.
While the two sides have agreed on a draft lottery to help stop teams from tanking to receive top picks, MLB has offered a five-team lottery while the union seeks six teams.
The union also did not alter its decision to expand the postseason from 10 teams to 12 teams, and not 14, which MLB has sought. In their last exchange of proposals in Florida, MLB accepted the union’s request of 12 teams.
The two sides are expected to meet again, perhaps as early as Monday, before MLB is expected to announce the cancellation of two more series of games, delaying the season until at least mid-April.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism