MLB Lockout Negotiation Week: Notes from Wednesday

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 Wednesday:

In a first since the lockout began, sides met for three days in a row to discuss core economic issues in order to bridge the gap necessary to come to an agreement to start the season on time. Sides met for about an hour and forty minutes before withdrawing to their corners, then had a two-on-two meeting for about a half hour before proceedings broke up at about six o’clock.

From the outside, little progress seems to have been made.

MLB seemed to have made only one tweak to their economic proposals, dropping the tiered option for minimum pay by service time that the union didn’t prefer and increasing their minimum salary offer from $630,000 to $640,000. Remaining unchanged is the $10,000 increases for every year of the agreement, ending at $680,000 in 2026.

Yet again, no proposals were made on the Competitive Balance Tax, and Jeff Passan of ESPN explains why it’s so important in this comprehensive Twitter thread.

The biggest news of the day had to be MLB reinforcing their stance on the February 28th deadline, with a league spokesman claiming “A deadline is a deadline. Missed games are missed games. Salary will not be paid for those games.” In the event that games are missed, the league’s plan would include simply picking up the schedule at whatever date play starts back up, not adjusting it in any way.

The players, of course, do not agree, claiming games could be made up as double-headers or tacked on at the end in an effort to play a complete season, something the league says they will not agree to.

Apparently lost games would not be as “disastrous” as Rob Manfred originally feared.

Players aren’t even necessarily in agreement that the deadline is as hard as the league is making it out to be. Also, since compensation would have to be negotiated, it’s not even set in stone that the league can unilaterally decide to simply not pay the players.

In the event games were actually lost, players wouldn’t be going away quietly, as it’s expected they would not agree to expanded playoffs or advertising patches, at least for 2022. The playoffs alone are believed to be worth in the range of $100 million for the league, so one would assume MLB isn’t taking this lightly.

Ronald Blum of The Associated Press highlighted another aspect of missing games that may be even more important to some players than pay—the potential of missed service time.

Any current player with a round number of career service—ending in .000—would have their free agency eligibility pushed back another year if the lockout lasted at least 15 days into the season. After that, there wouldn’t be enough days on the calendar for a player to gain a full year of service. Among the players Blum mentions as being potentially affected are Shohei Ohtani and Pete Alonso.

Finally, Jesse Rogers of ESPN put out a piece in which he consulted with agents and executives, asking for opinions on what would be considered reasonable compromises so an agreement could be reached.

I’ll let you read it in its entirety—it’s definitely worth it—but here are a few I at least found intriguing:

  • Players would drop their revenue sharing request in exchange for significant adjustments in the CBT proposals by the league
  • Owners would significantly increase the pre-arbitration bonus pool in exchange for players reducing their ask on arbitration eligibility

I’m not sure if this is based on information gleaned from sources or not, but Rogers also mentions that “[s]mall-market teams would never vote” for a “payroll-floor CBT-style tax”.

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