For the second week in a row, MLB and the Players Association carved out one day for a marathon negotiation session towards a new CBA. Last week, it was ahead of a deadline set by the league to avoid game cancellations altogether.
This week, MLB chose to enforce another deadline, this one being to cancel more games. But the wrinkle is that a deal by Wednesday could save a compacted 162-game regular season schedule with full service time and pay. They hoped this would give them leverage in negotiations.
And for the first time, it’s possible this leverage grab may have worked. Or at the very least, led to a proposal worth negotiating. The league submitted their most recent offer to the union on Tuesday night, including a rumored CBT threshold beginning at $230 million and increasing to $242 million over five years.
They also reportedly increased their minimum salary offer to $700K in the first year and increasing to $770K by the fifth year. Some other significant changes were made as well that began to resemble the asks of the Players Association, but a new hurdle reared its ugly head.
Now, the two sides are in a fight over the league-proposed international draft and its ties to other parts of the agreement, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN:
Tying the international draft to the removal of direct draft pick compensation — in which teams are penalized a draft choice for signing a top free agent — left the union contemplating the wisdom of overhauling the game’s international system, sources said. The international market, which provides an endless supply of talent, is rife with problems, foremost among them being that children as young as 12 are agreeing to contracts they can’t sign until they’re 16. The league believes a draft would help clean up a system that historically has seen team officials take kickbacks for signing players and trainers give performance-enhancing drugs to teenagers.
According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, this is the single biggest issue remaining in CBA talks.
NEW YORK — The most significant issue remaining in talks, although not the only, is said to be direct draft pick compensation, the elimination of the qualifying offer. The players want it, MLB has proposed it — but MLB wants the international draft, which is no small matter/give.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
There are a significant number of nuances regarding the morality of the current international prospect system in baseball. MLB — in a way — is correct for wanting to curb some of these issues. However, the union is concerned that some of the countries involved prefer the current system, even with the drawbacks that come with it.
So while there is some positivity surrounding this being one of the final hurdles, it’s going to be a large one to overcome. And with differences still remaining on CBT and other areas, it’s possible a deal does not get done on Wednesday.
If a deal isn’t completed
If the two sides fail to come to an agreement, MLB will likely cancel another 2-3 series of the 2022 season, which then adds further service time and prorated pay wrinkles into CBA discussions. This is explained further by Passan:
The MLBPA has said if the league refuses to concede to full pay and service time, it will remove expanded playoffs — a key to a new basic agreement for MLB — from its proposal. With the sides long unable to agree on core economics issues, the potential subtraction of a vital gain for the league and an additional item to bargain for the union — full service time is paramount — would add even more difficulty to discussions.
Service-time considerations are vital to players, who reach salary arbitration after three full years of major league service and free agency after six. Players receive a full year of service if they spend 172 days on a major league roster. There are typically 186 days in a season, and if more than two weeks of the season are canceled, recouping service would become part of any further negotiations.