Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met for the second day in a row this afternoon. After the MLB presented its latest fundamental economic proposal yesterday, the union submitted a counteroffer on some of the key issues today.
As was the case with the league’s latest proposal, the federation made relatively minor adjustments to its previous wishes (As first reported by Ivan Drilech of Athletic). The union’s proposal called for 75% of players with between two and three years of MLB service time to be eligible for arbitration. That’s five percentage points lower than the guild’s previous bid, which invited 80% of players in a 2-3-year service pool to qualify for Super Two. (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explored the potential ramifications for the 80% of players in that category who are eligible to referee yesterday.)
This is a move towards a mid-point on one of the biggest topics of contention, but there is still a huge gap on that. The League firmly refused to accept the possibility of expanding arbitration at all. Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, 22% of players in a 2-3-year service pool qualified as Super Two. The MLB has so far committed to keeping that number intact. Arbitration eligibility more broadly was a major goal of the players during the negotiations, as they began by requesting all players With more than two years of service coming into this process before this reduced demand for the couple’s previous offerings.
The federation has paired their reduced arbitration request with a league minimum salary arrangement more favorable to players than they have sought in previous offerings. The MLBPA was previously seeking a fixed minimum league salary of $775,000 for the next CBA term. ESPN’s Jeff Bassan reported (on TwitterThe federation continued to seek a minimum of 775,000 dollars for the next season, but suggested increases in the coming years. Bob Nightingale from USA TODAY Tweets The proposal would require league jumps of a minimum of $30,000 each season over the five-year CBA, as follows:
2023: 805 thousand dollars
2024: 835 thousand dollars
2026: 895 thousand dollars
MLB has offered, as expected, the bottom line of the league’s lowest so far. The league’s proposals called for a fixed minimum of $630,000 or a rolling minimum between $615,000 and $725,000, depending on the player’s amount of service time. Class like Travis Sauchek pointed out Last month, the minimum had to be set at $650,000 just to keep up with the 2016-21 local currency minimum after accounting for inflation. The federation, as part of its broader effort to bring more money to players early in their careers, sought to raise beyond this limit during negotiations.
Finally, the syndicate made a slight modification to its draft lottery proposal (as Drelish first mentioned). While the MLBPA previously sought to determine the first eight picks from the draft by lottery (as a mild inhibitor of rebuilding), the league adjusted that to seven picks. The last league show was going to determine the top four selections by lottery.
Perhaps most importantly, Drelish reports that the union did not address the competitive balance tax in today’s proposal. The CBT (unofficially known as the luxury tax) is shaping up as the most controversial issue in the talks. The union sought to raise the minimum base tax from $210 million to $245 million next season, with the minimum eventually reaching $273 million by the end of the Canadian Appropriation Act. The league has proposed a more modest increase — to $214 million in 2022, and $222 million by the end of the financial appropriation agreement — and has pushed for tougher penalties for teams that exceed thresholds.
The MLB did not amend the CBT request in its proposal yesterday. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers chirp While the university considered it the union’s turn to make a move on the luxury tax, since the MLBPA’s previous proposal did not contain any changes to their previous goals regarding CBT. It’s not clear if the union agrees it should take the next step on the luxury tax, but there was no progress toward reaching agreement on the issue this week.
According to various correspondents (including Michael Silverman from The Boston Globe), the league has been disappointed with the offer — particularly as the union seeks to increase minimum wages in the future. The parties will meet tomorrow, Drelish Tweets. Rogers reports (Via Twitter) that the university made a renewed proposal for federal mediation, but the union rejected it. That’s not surprising, as the MLBPA quickly rejected its first brokerage payment three weeks ago. Several players and the MLBPA leadership have cited failures of mediation efforts in previous CBA negotiations and the time it takes a third party to expedite related issues as justifications for doing so.
Presumably, MLB will respond to the league’s latest proposal (at least on issues related to Super Two and the league minimum) tomorrow. The fact that the two sides meet daily after the lockdown has continued without meaningful action is no doubt to some relief to some fans, but neither side’s proposal over the past couple of days seems to pave the way for any kind of imminent solution. There are six days until the MLB-imposed deadline to strike a deal if the regular season is to start on time.