MLB, players resuming talks
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball and the players’ association are scheduled to meet Thursday, ending a 42-day break in negotiations that began when management started a lockout in the sport’s first work stoppage since 1995.
With the scheduled start of spring training five weeks away, management was planning to make a new proposal to players, several people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.
The sides last met Dec. 1 in Irving, Texas, a brief session that broke off hours before the collective bargaining agreement expired. Since then, negotiations have been limited to peripheral issues. The meeting Thursday is scheduled to be conducted by video conference.
MLB payrolls dropped 4% in 2021 compared to the league’s last full season in 2019, and the $4.05 billion total was the lowest in a fully completed year since 2015.
Players have asked for liberalized eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration, a raise in the luxury tax threshold from $210 million to $245 million, changes to spark increased competition among clubs and measures to address what the union claims is service time manipulation.
Management has offered to increase the tax threshold to $214 million, to extend the designated hitter to the National League and the elimination of compensation for free agents for the first time.
Both sides would increase the minimum salary, players from $570,500 to $775,000 this season and management to a series of tiers: $600,000 for players with less than a year of big league service, $650,000 for at least one but less than two and $700,000 for at least two.
Negotiators also have discussed an NBA-style draft lottery, but management would limit it to the top three teams and the union would expand it to the top eight. Players would reward small-market teams with additional draft picks for success, such as making the playoffs or finishing with a winning record.
Baseball’s ninth work stoppage began Dec. 2, its ninth since 1972 but first since a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95.
Spring training is scheduled to start Feb. 16 in Florida and Arizona, and opening day is set for March 31.
With the need for at least three weeks of spring training and time for players to arrive and go through COVID protocols, an agreement by about March 5 is needed for an on-time start to the season.