MLB team owners convened in Orlando this week after recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations with the Players Association went nowhere.
The league elected not to make an offer to the players, and instead, requested involvement from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help CBA talks. The union declined that request and insisted MLB return to the bargaining table.
Since then the two sides have only met once to discuss non-core economic issues such as the amateur draft. The long layoff in between meetings have become a common theme as the league and union didn’t speak for 42 days after the lockout began.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred held a press conference at the conclusion of the owners meetings in Orlando and partially blamed the slow progress on the Players Association, arguing they haven’t been as quick to counter with proposals, via MLB.com:
“We have consistently tried tactics to move the process. We hoped the lockout would do it, we though the mediation suggestion might help do it. We’ve reached out and made proposals when there were gap. In terms of any delay in the process, that’s a mutual responsibility of the bargaining parties. Phones work two ways.”
Among the core economic issues yet to be resolved are establishing a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, the luxury tax threshold (competitive balance tax) and the minimum salary. As of their recent negotiations, MLB and the MLBPA were $90 million apart on a pre-arbitration bonus pool.
Manfred confirmed the league is planning to make another proposal to the players on Saturday and believes it could result in substantial progress toward a new CBA:
“The best answer I can give you is actually something I said in Dallas. You’re always one breakthrough away from making an agreement. That’s the art of this process. Somebody makes a move — and that’s why we’ll make additional moves on Saturday — that creates flexibility on the other side. And what seemed like a big gap on this topic, or that topic, isn’t such a big gap anymore.”
The slow nature of negotiations between MLB and the union has threatened the start of Spring Training, but Manfred stopped short of announcing a delay. He noted there won’t be any potential changes to the calendar until the sides meet on Saturday.
Manfred, Andrew Miller share disagreement on quality of current proposals from MLB
While Manfred spoke highly of the offers MLB has made in CBA negotiations, MLBPA executive committee member Andrew Miller rebuffed that sentiment and believes the league’s proposals thus far have been rather unfair.