MLB Lockout Rumors: Significant Differences Remain As CBA Deadline Nears

After going multiple months with only sporadic meetings to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), Major League Baseball and the Players Association (MLBPA) have held daily negotiations this past week at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.

The sense of urgency seemingly stemmed from MLB setting a February 28 deadline for a CBA to be in place and avoid delaying Opening Day with the cancelation of regular season games. The league already has postponed the start of Spring Training to no earlier than Tuesday, March 8.

The increase in frequency with CBA negotiations unfortunately has not amounted to much progress. MLB and the MLBPA have both expressed frustration and talks seemingly took a step back Saturday.

According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, the union initially did not intend on continuing with the meetings on Sunday but eventually acquiesced:

Players were angered by the state of negotiations at the end of Saturday’s session and would not commit to extending talks. After internal discussions, they agreed to meet for a seventh straight day Sunday.

The league and players have aligned on some concepts but remain far apart on key economic issues, such as the luxury tax threshold 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.

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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