“No Substantive Progress” Between League, MLBPA In Today’s Labor Talks

The owners and players held their fourth consecutive day of meetings as the two sides continue to try and work out a new collective bargaining agreement, yet once again, “no substantial progress” came from the session, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich (Twitter links).  Representatives from the league and the MLB Players Association are scheduled to meet again tomorrow.

As outlined by Drellich and The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes, the union made two minor concessions based on past proposals.  Whereas the MLBPA had sought to give an extra year of service time to 29 players considered to be victims of service time manipulation over the last five years, the union dropped that number to 20 players today.

The other new wrinkle related to the concept of a draft lottery to decide the first several picks of the amateur draft.  The league offered a lottery covering the first four picks while the union wanted the lottery to cover the first seven picks, and today’s MLBPA proposal retained that seven-pick concept.  However, the union altered its proposal to remove punishment for teams who had consecutive losing seasons.  It “had been a league concern that [the] system would punish teams that were just bad and not tanking,” Janes writes.

MLBTR has learned more specifics regarding the union’s proposal for the draft lottery, which would take effect in 2023. All non-playoff teams would be included in the lottery. The odds of landing the first pick would be weighted by inverse order of the previous season’s standings as follows (assuming a 12-team playoff, as the MLBPA has proposed thus far):

  • Team 1: 15% (the team with the worst record in baseball)
  • Team 2: 15% (the team with the second-worst record in baseball)
  • Team 3: 15%
  • Team 4: 12.5%
  • Team 5: 10%
  • Team 6: 8%
  • Team 7: 6.5%
  • Team 8: 5%
  • Team 9: 3.25%
  • Team 10: 2.25%
  • Team 11: 1.5%
  • Team 12: 1.25%
  • Team 13: 1.12%
  • Team 14: 1%
  • Team 15: 0.88%
  • Team 16: 0.75%
  • Team 17: 0.625%
  • Team 18: 0.375%

The MLBPA is also proposing competitiveness adjustments.  Revenue sharing payors that finish in the bottom eight in winning percentage in each of the two previous seasons or in the bottom 12 in each of the three previous seasons would pick no earlier than 10th.  Additionally, any team that does not receive revenue sharing that finishes in the bottom 12 in each of the four or more previous seasons would have their pick moved to #18.

Also, beginning with the 2024 draft, any revenue sharing recipient finishing in the bottom eight in each of the three previous seasons would pick no earlier than 10th.  Any such club in the bottom eight in each of the four or more previous seasons would have their pick moved to #18.

The union also made a slight modification in its efforts to grant rookies bonus service time based on performance, as Drellich first reported (via Twitter). Under the MLBPA’s proposal, infielders/catchers/DH’s who finish in the top five at their position in their respective leagues in WAR would receive a full year of service, while outfielders, starting pitchers and relievers who finish among their league’s top fifteen in WAR would as well. That’s a slight reduction from the union’s previous ask, which would’ve granted a full year of service for infielders/catchers/DH’s who finished among the top seven and outfielders/pitchers who finished among the top twenty.

The union is still pursuing a full year of service for top five finishers in Rookie of the Year balloting, all-MLB placement and a top three placement in Reliever of the Year voting. MLB has thus far been opposed to the idea of players “earning” service time, instead offering teams additional draft choices for promoting high-performing players at the start of the season.

Bigger-picture CBA topics (such as the luxury tax thresholds, minimum salary increases, salary arbitration eligibility, etc.) still remain up in the air, with today’s talks apparently yielding no movement on any of these issues.  As has become a regular feature of these talks, both sides left a negotiating session feeling frustrated.  According to Michael Silverman of The Boston Globe, the “players [are] upset with how far apart sides remain,” and “MLB negotiators told union they have run out of ideas and that owners are upset with players.”

February 28 remains Major League Baseball’s stated deadline for reaching a new CBA, or else the league has said it will start canceling games from the regular-season schedule.  As Janes notes, “the union doesn’t exactly agree to [February 28] as a deadline,” so it remains to be seen whether any urgency will finally be shown by either side in tomorrow’s session, or in any talks that might be scheduled for the weekend or Monday.  Considering the huge differences of opinion that remain between the league and the MLBPA, it is hard to believe that an entire new collective bargaining agreement could even be close to settled by Monday, let alone a fully agreement reached.

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