Owners, players set to meet again Monday


Major League Baseball’s owners and players will meet in person Monday in their latest attempt to find common ground amidst the owners’ lockout that already seriously imperils the scheduled start of spring training. A deal likely would need to be completed by Feb. 1 to avoid a delay of Grapefruit and Cactus League action, and then by March 1 in order to start the regular season on time.

The get-together will mark the two sides’ first such bargaining session since Jan. 13, and that itself marks some sort of advancement. After all, that video conference served as the first substantive conversation about the game’s core economic issues since Dec. 1, a 42-day break.

At the meeting, the MLB Players Association will deliver a counterproposal to the package the owners offered on the 13th. It very likely will feature more fundamental changes to the industry’s financial system, which currently allows players to reach free agency after six years of service and grants salary arbitration for everyone in the top 22 percent of the class between two and three years’ service (the “Super 2s”), than the marginal shifts the owners recently proposed. The same goes for the players’ desire to eradicate tanking and get all 30 teams to try to win (and spend accordingly) each season.

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
AP (2)

The owners’ recent package featured a formula to pay players between two and three years that would eliminate arbitration for the Super 2 group, one that purportedly would give that tier more total dollars than it currently earns; draft-pick rewards for teams whose top prospects win major awards in their first three seasons (an attempt to thwart service-time manipulation); and a draft lottery system for the worst three teams that wouldn’t allow clubs to replicate the extended tanking strategy utilized recently by the Astros and Cubs, among other teams.

In addition to changes to free agency and arbitration, the players also would like to see a more dramatic spike for the luxury-tax threshold, which stood at $210 million last season. The two sides also differ on how many teams should appear in the expanded playoffs, with the players preferring 12 and the owners 14.



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