As the calendar flips to the month spring training is supposed to start, Major League Baseball’s owners and players will convene Tuesday in their continued quest to negotiate for a new collective bargaining agreement. Multiple industry sources confirmed an ESPN report about the get-together.
This will mark the third such in-person meeting in nine days, an indication of the two sides’ urgency despite players’ continuing frustration with the owners’ offers. While it would shock to see camps open on time in the middle of February as scheduled, so glacial has been the pace of these proceedings, hope still exists for a full, 162-game season to be played. A deal would have to be reached by the end of February, or even a touch earlier, in order to accomplish that goal.
Last week, the two sides found some common ground, as the players backed off of their request to change the service-time requirement for free agency from six years to five and the owners signed on for an initiative that would reward performance bonuses for players not yet eligible for arbitration. There still exists considerable difference of opinion on the precise details of these plans, yet optimism can be derived that they’re at least talking the same language.
The same can’t be said about arbitration and revenue sharing, where the owners support the status quo whereas the players want arbitration eligibility to drop from three years’ service time to two and want to cut revenue sharing by about $30 million. Moreover, the issue of the luxury tax remains a contentious one, as the owners want to raise the threshold modestly from $210 million to $214 million with increased penalties on high spenders while the players wish to lift the threshold all the way to $245 million.
Since the owners made counteroffers in the previous meeting Jan. 25, Tuesday serves as the players’ turn to toss out some new ideas.