Saturday was perhaps the most intense day thus far in a week filled with ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations. On the sixth consecutive day of meetings between MLB and the Players Association, the union delivered a first.
They put together their first comprehensive CBA proposal that touched on nearly every high-profile issue being discussed. Competitive balance tax, pre-arbitration bonus pools, revenue sharing, and more were pout in this proposal.
However, after some deliberation on the MLB side, they agreed that they would not move an inch from their most recent offers. In fact, they made it a point to not compromise at all, according to ESPN News Services:
Clubs stayed at a $214 million threshold, up from $210 million last season, and increased their 2023 proposal by $1 million to $215 million, while leaving 2024 at $216 million with $2 million hikes in each of the final two seasons.
The league reduced the tax rate for exceeding the threshold from 50% to 45%, cut it for exceeding by $20 to $40 million from 75% to 62%, and slightly lowered it for those $40 million or more over the base threshold from 100% to 95%.
MLB characterized its tax proposal as intentionally lousy, in response to a union tax proposal teams felt was equally lousy.
This “intentionally lousy” proposal absolutely felt damaging to any significant hopes of a deal by Monday’s deadline. In fact, it almost led the union to not return to the negotiating table at all.
Players were angered by the state of negotiations but after some discussion agreed to meet with the league again on Sunday for a seventh straight day.
By rejecting this comprehensive proposal outright, MLB appears to be saying that if the union wants significant change, they’re going to have to lose games to get it. At this point in the lockout, it’s a disappointing way to go about negotiations.
Losing regular season games, and — in turn — the expanded playoffs that the Players Association would then deny, hurts the league as well. This would be the second time in three years that MLB does not start on time and plays a shorter-than-expected season.
However, the league seems willing to take that hit in order to save even the slightest amount of money in the long-term. Of course, it’s possible that all of this is just posturing and that a deal could be done by Monday, but it feels less and less likely by the hour.
Draft lottery, expanded playoffs nearing agreement
While the doomsday scenarios do appear to be coming true, that doesn’t mean that zero progress has been made throughout the week. Two areas specifically — draft lottery and expanded playoffs — are extremely close to being agreed to.
According to reports, the draft lottery could fall at six teams — the union wanted eight and the league wanted three — while the expanded playoffs sit at 12 for the union and 14 for the league.