MLB lockout: Owners, MLBPA trade proposals with small tweaks; luxury tax remains unaddressed during busy week

On Tuesday, MLB owners and representatives from the MLB Players Association and the league met once again in Jupiter, Florida, in an effort to bring an end to the owner-implemented lockout that brought Major League Baseball to a halt on Dec. 2. Tuesday’s session marked the second straight day of intense negotiations, which is in contrast to what unfolded immediately after the lockout began when owners took 43 days to present a proposal on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

MLB has said Feb. 28 is the latest they can reach a deal for a new CBA without delaying Opening Day (currently scheduled for March 31), though the MLBPA may not agree. Bargaining sessions are expected to be held every day this week.

Monday’s meeting was the longest of the lockout to date. The two sides reportedly met for close to five hours, though much of that time was spent in separate rooms formulating proposals, which is common during bargaining sessions. How long they meet is not as important as what’s said during the meeting. Ultimately, MLB offered only slight adjustments to its most recent proposal.

On Tuesday, it was the players’ turn to propose a framework for a new CBA:

Yahoo’s Hannah Keyser adds that the players are still proposing a first-year minimum salary of $ 775,000 but now with a $ 30,000 increase in both the second and third years.

As well, Keyser and others report that MLB for a second time proposed bringing in a federal mediator to advance discussions, and the players for a second time refused based on their preference to continue direct negotiations with the league:

Tuesday’s suite of player proposals is in response to what owners offered up on Monday. Here’s a rundown of what the owners reportedly offered to start the week:

  • Raise the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players to $ 20 million. MLB previously offered $ 15 million for the top 30 players. The MLBPA is seeking a $ 115 million bonus pool to split among the top 150 players.
  • Draft lottery for the top four picks. MLB previously offered a lottery for the top three picks only. The union wants the top eight picks to be decided by a lottery.
  • No change to the previous luxury tax proposal. MLB is offering a small raise to the tax with much harsher penalties. The MLBPA is seeking to raise the threshold from $ 210 million to $ 245 million. More on that here.
  • Rescinded their request to control the total number of minor-league teams, as as well as their offer to limit options to five times per season, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The two sides remain far apart on what’s become known as the “core economic issues.” Those core economic issues include the minimum salary, the competitive balance tax (CBT, also known as the luxury tax on payrolls), the structure of salary arbitration, the size of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, and revenue sharing. Very little negotiating on the CBT has taken place, which means it may eventually stand as the final obstacle. The owners’ recent asks when it comes to modifying the CBT suggest they’re trying to position it as even more of a de facto salary cap.

By all indications from the MLB side, the 2022 offseason will not resume – and spring training will not begin – until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, at least on a conditional basis. MLB could lift the lockout at any time, allowing baseball to resume under the terms of the old collective bargaining agreement, but the league has shown no willingness to do that.

For The Athletic’s Evan Drellichthe two sides will meet again on Wednesday, as expected.



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