Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout, in its 98th day, faces another decisive point Wednesday. Representatives from the MLB Players Association and the league are set to resume negotiations after the two sides talked and swapped proposals until 3 a.m. ET Tuesday. MLB has reportedly set another self-imposed deadline this week: If a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement is reached Wednesday, players will report to spring training this weekend and play a full, 162-game season in 2022; if there’s no deal Wednesday, more regular season games will be canceled.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred already canceled the first two series of the 2022 season and postponed Opening Day last week after talks between the two sides fizzled March 1. Those games, however, could be made up and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says Opening Day would be April 6 or 7 for teams if there’s a Wednesday deal. The owners and players union reconvened this week in New York and appeared to make progress toward a deal Tuesday night in bargaining sessions that went well past midnight. The MLBPA said it wanted to speak to its board members before resuming bargaining Wednesday morning, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.
Owners moved on some key issues Tuesday (more on that here), and in their proposal they raised the threshold of baseball’s Competitive Balance Tax to $230 million in 2022. The MLBPA has proposed a CBT threshold starting at $238 million in 2022, with that number rising to $263 million by Year 5 of the CBA (MLB’s number would only rise to $242 million in Year 5). Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that move from MLB came with “strings attached” and MLB would want an extra level of CBT penalties and also the ability to implement an international draft.
Will we get a deal Wednesday? CBS Sports will be providing live updates and analysis from the negotiations. You can follow along below.
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Free agency news? Free agency news
Jon Heyman of MLB Network dropped this non-lockout update Wednesday morning about the Yankees’ interest in Carlos Correa, among others. All three players listed here are represented by Scott Boras, so maybe the superagent thinks free agency could re-open soon.
Where things stand
A deal is not necessarily imminent, but the two sides currently appear closer to an agreement than at any other time in the process to date. Per multiple reports, an international draft — which MLB wants and players are debating — is the biggest remaining hurdle.
If there is a deal today, it appears players would report this weekend for spring training and a full, 162-game season could start on April 6.
MLB has moved on economic issues when it introduced an international draft in its proposal, so things could fall apart again if the players turn down the draft.
What the regular season might look like if the lockout ends today
Some details from Bob Nightengale:
Opening Day had been scheduled for March 31.
International draft details
Some additional info:
It would be interesting to hear the league explain why international draftees should have lower slotted signing bonuses than domestic draftees do.
The international draft, which MLB has pushed for previously but was not a focal point of these CBA talks until lately, could be one of the last issues standing between the two sides and a deal, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
MLB’s new “Friday Night Baseball” deal with Apple TV was announced Tuesday. The league is also nearing a deal with NBC to broadcast games on Peacock. Those two TV deals are worth $115 million annually, per Forbes.
“If you look at a purchase price of franchises, the cash that’s put in during the period of ownership and then what they sold for, historically, the return on those investments is below what you get in the stock market,” commissioner Rob Manfred said last month.
Some owner reaction
Worth remembering MLB reportedly said eight days ago that their “best” offer was much lower in many of the key economic areas.
FTJ calls out international draft
Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. spoke with Dominican news outlet El Caribe on Wednesday morning. He shared his thoughts on an international draft, which he said would “kill” baseball in the D.R.
“The draft is going to kill baseball in the Dominican Republic,” Tatis told the outlet. “It is going to kill what baseball is in the Caribbean. It will affect us a lot, because there will be many young people who used to give them the opportunity to get a bonus and with the draft it will not be the same,” he added.
His quote was translated online from Spanish. The full story is below:
MLB sets soft afternoon ‘deadline’
Not a big surprise here. Like last week after a long night of talks, MLB wants to make a decision by this afternoon on canceling another round of games, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
What would international draft look like?
MLB is again pushing for an international draft, and details emerged late last week on what one might look like if it comes to fruition:
- International players – i.e., those outside of the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico – would be eligible for the draft starting at age 16.
- The draft would span 20 rounds.
- Each draft slot would have an assigned signing bonus figure. The top overall pick would receive a signing bonus of $5.25 million.
- The deadline to sign would be three weeks after the completion of the draft.
- Teams could sign an unlimited number of undrafted international prospects.
- Teams would be permitted to trade international draft picks.
- Teams could earn additional picks by drafting and signing players from countries outside the typical international pipeline.
MLB’s ‘strings attached’ offer
The owners moved on some key issues Tuesday, showing a willingness to get closer to the players’ numbers for the Competitive Balance Tax and the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players. MLB’s Tuesday offer moved the lowest CBT threshold to $230 million in 2022, with that number rising to $242 million over the five-year CBA. MLB’s new bonus pool number is $50 million.
The MLBPA seeks a $238 million luxury-tax threshold in 2022, with that number rising to $263 over the course of the CBA, and $80 million for the bonus pool for high-performing young players.
The MLB offer, however, came with strings attached, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic. Here they are:
- MLB wants to add an extra level to penalize teams for going significantly over the CBT threshold. For example, using their proposed $230 million threshold. Teams would be penalized monetarily for going over that. Then penalized additionally for going over $250 million. Then again for $270M-plus. And then the fourth tier, an additional penalty for going over $290 million. Previously, there have been only three tiers of taxes for going over. Think of this as the Steve Cohen Tax.
- MLB would give up the qualifying offer system, but only if it can institute an international draft. This would be a huge deal and players (and agents) have previously been against it.
- MLB could make rule changes each offseason in expedited fashion without getting an agreement from the players.
What will timing look like today?
Yesterday, MLB and the MLBPA talked into the early morning hours for the second time in eight days. It ended with MLB making the last proposal. The MLBPA is set to meet this morning to discuss MLB’s latest offer, which came with movement on the CBT and $ in the pre-arbitration bonus pool but with “strings attached” (more CBT penalties, an an international draft among them).
MLBPA will likely submit a counterproposal to MLB after chatting internally (last week’s internal conference call lasted about 90 minutes) and negotiations will go from there in New York.
MLB set a 5 p.m. ET deadline last Tuesday before announcing the cancelation of games — the only self-imposed “deadline” the league has stuck to in the last two weeks.
Good morning, negotiation fans
It’s another big day of labor negotiations in Major League Baseball.
Bottom line: If the MLB Players Association and the league reach an agreement today, we will likely have a 162-game season in 2022. Opening Day (originally scheduled for March 31) would still be delayed, but the games that were canceled last week could be made up and players could report to spring training this weekend.
If there’s no deal today, expect Rob Manfred to announce more cancellations (probably another week’s worth of games) and to see more pictures of baseballs locked in chains.