MLB Rumors: Players Association Believes Team Owners Trying To ‘Break’ Union With Lockout

Daily meetings between MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) over the past week have accomplished little in terms of reaching a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and now the sides are staring down a league-imposed deadline Monday.

After first warning that a new CBA needed to be in place, MLB double down on their Feb. 28 deadline and reiterated Opening Day would be pushed back with canceled games not rescheduled.

There appeared to be some momentum heading into the weekend as the union made a comprehensive
CBA proposal that adjusted and reduced several of their asks. However, it didn’t receive a positive response from MLB, and that fueled frustration for both sides.

Such reaction to what was a good-faith proposal and earnest effort to reach an agreement on a new labor deal lent more credence to the Players Association’s belief MLB team owners are looking to steamroll the union, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

The most cynical read is that the owners want to break the union, that they want to squash the players once and for all, or at the least discourage them from taking up such fights again anytime soon. Indeed, it is a suspicion held by some on the players’ side — and also the kind of viewpoint that those on the players’ side could effectively embellish as a rallying cry.

Skepticism within the union has seemingly united them against MLB commissioner Rob Manfred during the lockout.

The 2017-21 CBA undeniably was in heavy favor of team owners. Heading into negotiations for a new deal, the MLBPA has made it clear competitive integrity and getting younger players paid earlier in their careers were focal points.

The union hasn’t sought to fully swing the pendulum back in their favor, but instead achieve more of a balanced split. Comparatively, team owners have stonewalled any negotiations that would move in that direction.

As it currently stands, Spring Training won’t begin at least until Tuesday, March 8, but more games are likely to be canceled in addition to pushing back the start of the regular season if progress isn’t made.

Key issues for MLB & MLBPA

With the luxury tax thresholds, the union is hoping to have it set at $245 million for the 2022 season and increase to $273 million by the final year of the CBA.

MLB has countered 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.

The league’s proposed increases fall well short of normal inflation rates and are accompanied by much harsher penalties.

With the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the MLBPA set their ask at $115 million. The league has yet to exceed $20 million.

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