MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) held meetings on consecutive days last week and it appeared both sides finally made some progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
During the negotiations, MLBPA dropped their request for an age-based free agency and revised their revenue proposal while MLB increased the minimum player salary and added a pre-arbitration bonus pool.
While there was some progress in the meetings, it wasn’t all good news.
MLB also appears to have threatened they would be willing to cancel games during the 2022 season if the MLBPA is unwilling to drop more of their demands, according to Evan Drelich of The Athletic:
In a meeting with the Players Association on Monday, Major League Baseball deputy commissioner Dan Halem said that MLB is willing to lose games over some of the outstanding issues the sides have, people with knowledge of the talks said.
To avoid missing games, there’s a belief the sides would need to have an agreement in place by early March, which would give them some time to finish free agency and begin Spring Training. If MLB is serious, negotiations could now be expected to run into late March or longer.
MLB owners likely see this as a scenario where losing some money now by canceling games is a lot better for them than potential long-term losses if they give into the players’ demands.
The union, on the other hand, have a lot more to lose and need an agreement to come quicker.
It’s easy to call it a “millionaires versus billionaires” debate, but roughly 68% of the players protected by the MLBPA earn less than $1 million each season. A lot of the players need income, such as players on a 40-man roster but have yet to make their debut and earn less than $45,000.
Players have also been seeing a smaller chunk of the revenue they create. Despite revenue in MLB increasing in every year besides 2020’s COVID-impacted season, payrolls around the league have been dropping by nearly 5% since their previous high in 2017.
MLB rule changes not part of current CBA negotiations
While MLB and the MLBPA have been submitting new CBA proposals to each other, the sides have yet to discuss potential rule changes.
They have only been negotiating around the financial parts of the deal, which makes sense as that will be the most important aspect for any deal.
Once they get around to rule changes, the universal designated hitter and expanded playoff format seem likely to be adopted.
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