Lockout Rumors: Incremental Changes Made In Five-Hour Negotiation Session
Rob Manfred
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Monday, Feb. 21 signaled the first of what figures to be daily long-term meetings between MLB and the Players Association. The hope is that by the end of the week — or by Feb. 28 — enough progress will be made that the two sides can agree on a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Day 1 saw the two sides negotiate for five hours in Jupiter, Florida, a massive step forward from the 30 minute and one hour meetings that were taking place in recent weeks. However, it wasn’t quite as productive as it sounds, as only minor changes were made on each side.

MLB pulled a number of offers that the Players Association never had any interest in agreeing to, while also making a slight move on pre-arbitration bonus pools, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN:

On Monday, the league increased its commitment in a pre-arbitration pool to $20 million — an increase of $5 million since its last offer — while adding another team to the lottery in its new NBA-style draft proposal. The moves were consistent with the incremental adjustments both sides have made throughout the months of negotiations.

Also on Monday, MLB withdrew its request of the union to control — and potentially reduce — the number of minor league playing jobs, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The league could try to do it unilaterally going forward, but it won’t do so in 2022 and at the moment does not have plans to pursue it in 2023. Along with the withdrawal of the minor league playing jobs proposal, MLB pulled its offer limiting the number of times a player can be optioned to five. The constant shuttling between the big leagues and Triple-A is a quality-of-life issue for players, who have proposed a maximum of four options.

While none of this means a deal is ready to be agreed to on Tuesday, it does show that MLB is ready to negotiate in the realm of reality. Some of their previous proposals had been based on control, not moving the game forward.

According to this report, the competitive balance tax was not discussed. This was intentional by MLB, as they want to see the Players Association make the next move on this issue. MLB was the most recent side to make concessions on CBT, obviously not to the union’s liking.

Given the order in which topics are being negotiated, a serious discussion about CBT will likely mean that the two sides are very close to a deal. This appears to be the issue they are saving for last, along with things like minimum salaries and revenue sharing.

MLBPA agreed to cut pre-arb bonus pool

On Monday, the league went from $15 million to $20 million on their pre-arbitration bonus pool money. This is still a significant ways away from where the union sits, at $115 million. The biggest concession that the union has made on this issue is going from 100% of “Super 2s” being eligible for this bonus pool down to 80%.

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