MLB, MLBPA ‘Deadlocked’ In Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiations

MLB team owners appearing insistent on guaranteeing themselves an overwhelmingly favorable deal and mistrust from the Players Association (MLBPA) have seemingly undermined collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations and left the sport in a precarious position.

More than 40 days passed without substantial conversations after team owners unanimously voted to impose a lockout at the beginning of December. Negotiations remained sporadic at the start of 2021, but did pick up with recent meetings for nine consecutive days at Roger Dean Stadium.

There were some indications of progress toward a new CBA, but that wound up being overstated as MLB’s self-imposed deadline came and went March 1 without an agreement. Commissioner Rob Manfred at that point canceled Opening Day and the first two series of the 2022 regular season.

The union presented their first counteroffer since talks broke down last week, but MLB characterized it as a step back, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

“We were hoping to see some movement in our direction to give us additional flexibility and get a deal done quickly,” MLB spokesperson Glen Caplin said Sunday afternoon. “The Players Association chose to come back to us with a proposal that was worse than Monday night and was not designed to move the process forward.

“On some issues, they even went backwards. Simply put, we are deadlocked. We will try to figure out how to respond, but nothing in this proposal makes it easy.”

MLB’s stance is hardly surprising as the MLBPA did not budge on their desired luxury tax thresholds. Furthermore, both sides have often expressed disappointment when receiving the latest CBA offer from the other party.

It’s unclear when they may next meet, but the expectation is additional Spring Training games will soon be canceled. At present time those are not scheduled to begin until Friday, March 18, at the earliest.

MLB, MLBPA apart on luxury tax

The MLBPA continues to ask for a competitive balance tax line of $238 million for the 2022 season and increase to $263 million by the final year of the CBA.

The league countered at $220 million for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 seasons; $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026 in their most recent offer. The luxury tax threshold was set at $210 million in 2021.

Owners Bob Castellini (Cincinnati Reds), Chris Ilitch (Detroit Tigers), Ken Kendrick (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Arte Moreno (L.A. Angels) reportedly were against MLB raising the first threshold from $214 million to $220 million in their latest proposal.

Some owners additionally were said to have referenced the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets to tell a cautionary tale of allowing for too aggressive of spending.

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