MLB Lockout Negotiation Week: Notes from Thursday

Reportedly, MLB and the MLBPA will meet every day this week in an attempt to come to an agreement before a self-imposed February 28th deadline to ensure the season starts as scheduled on March 31st.

In an attempt to cover the daily happenings, here are updates from Thursday:

Thursday marked the fourth day in a row of bargaining, even though it didn’t start out with face-to-face meetings.

Sides met separately for about an hour before coming together around two o’clock. They only were together for about a half hour before taking an intermission, after which there were more face-to-face dealings for roughly another half hour. The sides finished meeting around quarter ‘til five, as it was deemed there was “nothing more to discuss.”

Hank Steinbrenner made an appearance, his first of the week. This leaves John Henry of the Boston Red Sox as the only owner to not be present who was reportedly supposed to be a part of the meetings. St. Luis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt apparently has been present, despite not being on MLB’s Labor Policy Committee.

If not a part of the meetings, it’s possible DeWitt has been seen panhandling outside the facilities.

As for actual proposals, it was another day lacking anything of significance.

On service time manipulation, the players lowered their asks of rewarding a full-year of service to rookies that finish Top-20 in WAR by position by league for pitchers and outfielders and Top-7 for every other position to Top-15 and Top-5, respectively. By the union’s estimate, the previous levels would have affected 29 players over the last five years—a number the league says is too high—while these new limits reduce that number to 20.

The players also tweaked their lottery proposal. Despite staying at seven lottery teams, the players made changes to not as severely punish teams that finish poorly several years in a row in order to help quell league concerns that teams who are simply bad without trying may be unduly punished.

Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted a summary of the new proposal that does it a whole lot more justice than me trying to explain it:

As best I can tell, one of the only principles we knew of the union’s previous proposal was not allowing teams to pick Top-5 in consecutive years. Without a fuller picture, it’s hard to compare these new facts to old proposals.

To finish, Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe shared two interesting tidbits relating to the feelings of ownership right now:

Ronald Blum of The Associated Press framed the same sentiment a little differently—“The union came away with the impression that management said it was out of ideas until players offer new proposals on key issues.”

To read Silverman’s tweets independently and out of context, it smacks of intentional ownership obtuseness, as I can think of four new ideas right off the bat—Competitive Balance Tax, revenue sharing, arbitration, and service time manipulation—that the league could come up with new ideas on. And if I and every reporter seem to know how the players feel about the owner’s proposals, why don’t they?

However, while I think they are still intentionally obfuscating the situation—at least to the public—Blum’s framing is at least slightly more understandable.

A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

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