When team owners unanimously voted to impose a lockout last December upon the collective bargaining agreement expiring, it was deemed by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as the “best mechanism to protect the 2022 season.”
Manfred’s statement was followed by weeks of inactivity, and sporadic CBA meetings in January produced little progress. Discussions were more frequent in February but again failed to amount to movement toward a new deal.
Frustration from the league and Players Association (MLBPA) increased and MLB imposed a February 28 deadline for a new CBA, or it would push back Opening Day and not reschedule canceled regular season games. Daily meetings at Roger Dean Stadium over the past week appeared fruitless as the deadline approached.
Negotiations continued into the early morning hours in Florida but with enough progress made, are being paused and the deadline for potentially canceling regular season games was moved to 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
There will be no deal on a new collective-bargaining agreement in this early hour, sources tell ESPN. Enough progress was made that MLB and the MLBPA will meet again later today in hopes of finalizing one. Deadline to miss regular-season games has been moved to 5 p.m. today.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 1, 2022
Key issues throughout CBA negotiations have been economic matters, such as the luxury tax thresholds and accompanying penalties, minimum starting salary, pre-arbitration bonus pool, and percentage of players that would qualify for Super Two status.
Whether an expanded postseason would have 12 or 14 teams is another disagreement, and how much notice MLB must provide a committee of potential rule changes. Under the 2017-21 CBA, the league had to introduce new rules at least one year in advance; they are seeking to parse that down to 45 days.
With the luxury tax thresholds, the union asked for it to be set at $245 million for the 2022 season and increase to $273 million by the final year of the CBA.
MLB had been countering at $214 million for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, then $216 million, $218 million and $222 million over the remaining lifetime of the CBA. The competitive balance tax line was set at $210 million in 2021.
However, the league is said to have inched closer to a $220 million threshold.
With the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the MLBPA set their final ask at $115 million, and the league has topped out at a $25 million proposal.
Next steps for MLB, MLBPA
While the league and union have plans to quickly resume negotiations, if the process remains drawn-out it will result in more Spring Training games getting canceled. Additionally, MLB previously noted lost regular season games would not be rescheduled.
Thus far, Spring Training is not scheduled to begin March 8, but that likely is to be pushed back further if a new CBA isn’t quickly put into place.
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