'Productive' CBA talks for MLB, MLBPA on eve of deadline

February 28th, 2022

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met for a seventh consecutive day on Sunday in Jupiter, Fla., and while no deal was struck for a new collective bargaining agreement, it appears some progress was made between the two sides.

Officials from both sides met on five separate occasions over the course of six-plus hours on Sunday, meetings one league source called “productive.” No other specifics from the meetings were available.

The parties reconvened Monday morning at 10 ET to continue bargaining, leaving them one final day to make a deal before the league’s deadline arrives. MLB has instituted a Monday deadline for a deal in order for the regular season to open as scheduled on March 31.

Earlier this month, Commissioner Rob Manfred said that based on injury data and the experience of the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, Spring Training should be at least four weeks long in order for players to properly prepare for the season.

Among the major issues that still must be worked out are the pre-arbitration bonus pool, minimum salaries and the competitive balance tax. 

Saturday, MLB made proposals to the MLBPA on both a Draft lottery and a service time plan, making concessions to the players on both issues. MLB’s Draft lottery plan would award the top six picks via lottery while prohibiting big-market teams from picking in the top 6 in consecutive years or any team picking there in three straight Drafts. 

The service time proposal from MLB would give a full year of service time to any player who finished first or second in their league's Rookie of the Year voting -- an idea that came from the MLBPA’s own proposal on the same subject.

In exchange for those two items, MLB had asked for a 14-team expanded postseason, as well as the ability to make on-field rules changes with 45 days’ notice rather than the current system, which requires either union consent or one full year of notice. Those rules changes would be handled by a committee comprised of six management officials, two MLBPA reps and one umpire. 

As of Saturday, the union was still seeking expanded Super 2 eligibility (from the current 22% to 35% of players with the most service time between 2-3 years) and some tweaks to the revenue sharing system. MLB has maintained from the beginning that any change in those two issues are non-starters for the owners. 

Players have insisted from the start of negotiations that getting younger players paid more earlier in their careers is one of the union’s primary objectives. Between the league’s proposals for minimum salary increases and a pre-arbitration bonus pool, MLB has offered more than $250 million in additional compensation for pre-arbitration players over the course of a five-year agreement.