MLB lockout: MLBPA makes first proposal since canceled games, league claims offer ‘went backwards’

Author: R.J. Anderson / CBS Sports
Signs are posted outside Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. Baseball labor negotiations moved to the spring training ballpark from New York as players and owners join the talks, which enter a more intensive phase with perhaps a week left to salvage opening day on March 31. (AP Photo/Ron Blum) (AP Photo/Ron Blum)

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met for more than 90 minutes on Sunday. The meeting included the MLBPA making a proposal, the first since MLB commissioner Rob Manfred canceled the first two series on the 2022 schedule last week, as the owner-imposed lockout dragged into a third month and became the first in league history to compromise the regular season.

Perhaps the most notable development in the union’s proposal is their willingness to give Manfred and the league the ability to implement three on-field changes with just 45 days’ notice, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. (Presently, the league must offer the union a year of notice ahead of such changes.) Those three exceptions include installing a pitch clock, larger bases, and shift restrictions. The rule changes would not be allowed to go into effect until next year or heading into the 2023 season.

ESPN’s Jesse Rogers had reported on Sunday that the league wants to “institute a 14-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a 19-second timer with runners on,” as a means of improving the pace between pitches.

Here’s a recap of the rest of MLBPA’s proposal, per Drellich:

  • The union lowered its request on the pre-arbitration bonus pool, from $85 million to $80 million. The owners previously proposed a $30 million central fund, meaning the gap there remains sizable, at $50 million.
  • The union ceded no ground on its request for the Competitive Balance Tax to begin at $238 million and grow to $263 million. The league has countered with a CBT threshold that starts at $220 million and slowly climbs to $230 million. This has been arguably the hottest button issue in negotiations, with four owners reportedly voting no to the proposal based solely on the CBT threshold.
  • The union also made no movement on its ask for a higher league minimum salary, of $725,000 with annual raises of $20,000. The league has offered a minimum of $700,000 with annual raises of $10,000.
  • The union wants a draft lottery to determine the top six picks every summer as a means of curbing anti-competitive behavior. The league wants that lottery to cover only the top five picks.

Drellich added that the union is now fine with “other CBT-related penalties” if “direct draft-pick compensation” goes away. Additionally, the union continues to push “some revenue-sharing changes,” though the league has been unwilling to engage on those throughout the negotiation process.

MLB did not come away impressed. Via the Associated Press:

“We were hoping to see movement in our direction to give us additional flexibility and get a deal done quickly,” MLB spokesman Glen Caplin said. “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 they respond, but nothing in this proposal makes it easy.”

Unsurprisingly, the union did not agree with the league’s characterization of how things went down Sunday.

The union has also suggested meeting again on Monday, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. That isn’t yet official, however.

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