Progress on Draft lottery in latest MLB, MLBPA talks
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met for a fifth straight day of bargaining Friday in Jupiter, Fla., and although the two sides remain far apart on a number of issues, there were signs of progress.
According to a league source, the two sides went back and forth on the Draft lottery, progressing to the point where the issue might be settled and agreed upon as soon as Saturday.
“Today we tried to focus on closing an issue out to gain some momentum,” the source said. “We have heard the players' concerns about competitiveness. Back in November we offered to change the Draft order for the first time in baseball's long history. We have offered revisions along the way.
“We offered a compromise this morning that we thought was a fair deal for players and clubs and worked on it throughout the day to try and create momentum to get the remaining issues resolved over the rest of the weekend. With what we offered, we will have gone from having no Draft lottery at all to the most aggressive lottery of any sport.”
While the Draft lottery is just one piece of a much larger negotiation, the fact that the two sides appear headed for a compromise potentially sets the stage for a productive weekend.
Commissioner Rob Manfred joined the talks for the first time Friday, meeting with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark. An MLB source described the sit-down as “a good conversation” in which the two discussed how to move the process forward.
MLB has instituted a Monday deadline for a deal in order for the regular season to open as scheduled on March 31, leaving the league and the players union three more days to work out a deal. Players will not be paid for games that are not played if the deadline is not met.
Earlier this month, 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 big-ticket items which still must be hammered out for a deal to get done for a new collective bargaining agreement are the competitive balance tax, Super 2 eligibility, service time manipulation, a pre-arbitration bonus pool and minimum salaries.
The league’s current proposals include more than $250 million in additional compensation for pre-arbitration players over the course of the agreement.
Also Friday, MLB announced that Spring Training games in both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues will not be played until at least March 8.
A previous decision had addressed games up until March 4, and an MLB spokesperson told reporters on Friday afternoon that the games on March 5-7 will not be played.
“All 30 clubs remain unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands,” an MLB spokesman said.