Friday served as the fifth consecutive day in which MLB owners met with the Players Association in an attempt to iron out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. And for the first time this week, commissioner Rob Manfred was in attendance, potentially signaling more serious discussions.
There remains plenty of ground to make up if a deal is to be completed by the Monday, Feb. 28 deadline set forth by MLB. The two sides appear far apart on a number of important issues, including competitive balance tax and minimum salaries.
However, for the first time, it appears significant progress was made in an area of importance: the draft lottery. Reportedly, MLB and the Players Association have a framework in place on a four-team lottery system, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
Friday brought a change. Not a change that means a deal is imminent, or that a deal even could realistically get done in advance of Monday, the deadline the commissioner’s office has imposed for an on-time start to the regular season. But there was nonetheless progress in one area: amateur draft order, and the expected creation of a draft lottery.
The owners came back on Friday with a framework that the players accepted, sources said. But details are still to be ironed out.
The owners’ proposal Friday stayed at four draft picks to be included in the lottery, sources said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many picks the players were most recently asking for. Their proposal on Thursday still called for seven.
Importantly for the players, at least some other restrictions on the draft are in place.
The gap between each side’s draft lottery proposal was significantly smaller than other areas, so it’s not a huge shock to see a framework be agreed to on this subject. MLB wanted a four-pick lottery, while the union wanted a seven-pick lottery with harsher penalties for tanking teams.
If this report is correct, it’s likely we see MLB’s four-pick lottery with the union’s penalties for tanking, a worthy compromise at this stage in negotiations.
For some, this is a huge signal of optimism that a deal can be done by Monday. However, there is still so much to negotiate on both sides, and it remains to be seen if three days is enough time for that. The two sides are far apart in the most crucial issues, and it would take some major concessions on both sides to get something done by the deadline.
MLB will cancel games if deal not completed by Feb. 28
The league ownership recently doubled down on their threat of a Feb. 28 deadline, saying that if a CBA is not agreed to by then, games will be lost without pay. Of course, there is no guarantee this is true, as it could easily be an attempt to gain leverage in negotiations.
By Monday, we’ll know just how serious of a threat this was by MLB and if a deal agreed upon in the early days of March can still lead to an on-time start.