Major League Baseball had stated, prior to their discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association, that Tuesday was the deadline for such an agreement in order to have a full 162-game season. (Of course, that was after cancelling games they had said wouldn’t be made up, a week earlier in Jupiter, Florida.)
I’m going to start this article at the end, so you can see where the two sides stand coming into Wednesday. They didn’t finish up until around 3 a.m. Eastern time:
MLB official just informed us that MLBPA requested to speak with their board later this morning before presenting MLB with their latest proposal.— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) March 9, 2022
So, talks will continue, but with a pause. Looks safe for everyone to get a little sleep.
Now, we can pick up what happened Tuesday. MLB owners presented players with a comprehensive proposal that appeared to go much farther toward the MLBPA’s position than previously — even after announcing Sunday that talks were “deadlocked.”
Here are the major proposals made by MLB. Apologies for the tweetstorm, but that seemed to be the quickest and easiest way to show you all the proposals all in one place. I’ll add a few comments.
MLB’s proposal, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Luxury tax thresholds: 230, 232, 236, 240, 242⁰
• Prearb pool: 40m, flat over time
• Pool counts against CBT (1.33m per team)
•Minimum salary: 700, 715, 730, 750, 770
A big issue, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal: MLB wants to add a new surchage level to the luxury tax. Right now, there are three levels: base, first surcharge, and second surcharge. Now MLB wants to put in a third to deter owners who have a mind to spend well above the pack.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
COMMENT: This will be a common theme throughout these proposals — they appear to be heading in the players’ direction, then a “poison pill” is added, in this case, a third “surcharge” level for the luxury tax. As Evan Drellich notes, it’s supposed to “deter” owners from spending. Does that sound like a salary cap to you in disguise? It does to me. It’s been dubbed “The Steve Cohen Tax” by some, as the Mets owner has already spent way past the OLD tax levels for 2022 and some owners fear he’d go higher.
The luxury tax levels in general are closer to the players’ position, but still won’t track revenue increases. That’s been a big part of the issue for players, who have been receiving an ever-smaller percentage of overall baseball revenues for nearly a decade. I’ll just put this here again:
The proposed min salary jump to $700,000 would be a 23% jump from 2021. That would be the largest dating back to 2003. Visual of the history of MLB min salary with latest proposal penned in. pic.twitter.com/jS5qa8HZgk— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) March 9, 2022
COMMENT: This is a good proposal and definitely gets closer to what players were asking for.
Here are some of the non-financial proposals:
In MLB’s proposal, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal, all rule changes MLB would want could be expedited, not just select ones like pitch clock, larger bases and shift. Can’t be expedited in season though — only in offseason— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Draft lottery at 6 picks. MLB was at 5 previously.
Some other details of MLB proposal:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 9, 2022
• Players can be optioned max 5 times before being exposed to waivers
• Small markets can pick in draft lottery for two straight years before sliding to 10th pick.
• Large markets can pick only one year in lottery before going to 10th
COMMENT: These are all a lot closer to what players were asking for, and generally positive. The one I’m curious about is the “five times being optioned before being exposed to waivers.” This sounds similar to, but not exactly like, the players’ proposal of teams being limited to five times being optioned per year. Now, there would be an actual penalty added to a sixth option — the player would have to be placed on waivers, which most teams probably wouldn’t want to do.
Now, here’s one “poison pill”:
Sources describe the international draft as the biggest issue with owners pushing hard for it at the moment.— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) March 9, 2022
Owners are tying qualifying offers to int'l draft. Players really want to get rid of QO system, which they see as a major drag on free agency. Perhaps $100M+ per year.
COMMENT: Previously in these negotiations, I had thought owners had agreed to eliminate the qualifying offer, or at least eliminate any sort of compensation for free agency. This is owners asking for something in exchange instead. As noted, the QO system has put a drag on FA salaries — so it could be perceived as another sort of “salary cap,” in a way. This could be a major sticking point in making a deal.
The MLB proposal tonight is for 12 playoff teams— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) March 9, 2022
COMMENT: For those of you against a 14-team postseason (and I’m one of them), this is good news. It was inevitable that the playoff field would increase from the current 10 teams. Twelve is better than 14. And, if owners are still insistent on a 14-team field, this leaves it as leverage for the players in the next negotiation.
So here’s where we stand at the moment (and please note, a couple of these national writers are known to be mouthpieces for ownership):
Some on player side believe owners are motivated to reach a deal today. That was also the belief last week and Rob Manfred announced the cancellation of games soon afterwards, so proceed with caution here. But source describes many key numbers as "close" even if more work awaits— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) March 9, 2022
Union is expected to send counterproposal to MLB shortly. All this back and forth at this hour seems promising (though things also looked promising a week ago). The negotiating doesn’t stop at midnight assuming things are still progressing.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 9, 2022
Another deadline come and gone. It is now Wednesday morning. The new deadline is now Wednesday afternoon for the two sides to reach an agreement before #MLB cancels another week of games.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 9, 2022
So, MLB’s “deadline” was a soft one, and we enter Wednesday with still a chance that a deal will be made and a 162-game season will be played, which is what we all want, players, owners, fans. I did want to make a note of this, though:
Spoke to someone in the baseball industry today who said MLB has several big revenue deals in the hopper. MLB is waiting for a new CBA with players to announce. Only reason Apple deal came to light is Apple disclosed MLB streaming deal at their event.— Allan Walsh (@walsha) March 8, 2022
Translation: MLB owners are about to get a lot more money dumped on them, but they’re not talking about this until AFTER a CBA is finished. Does this mean this is money they don’t want to share with players?
Just a thought.
Again, we appear to be close to baseball. That’s a good thing, and it does seem that owners have moved closer to the players’ position in this latest offer. Per Michael Silverman’s tweet that led off this article, the MLBPA is going to send over another proposal to owners sometime today.
If only all of this had been done — and it absolutely could have been — starting in December when the lockout began, or even before that, we would be talking about Spring Training games right now instead of labor contract negotiations.
Let’s hope they come to agreement today, because if not, I fear we’ll be in for a much longer delay.
As always, we await developments.