For all of the talk of momentum after two straight days of negotiations last week between MLB and the MLBPA, the reality is much colder. No further negotiations have been announced and the scheduled mid-February start of Spring Training is no doubt in jeopardy. Once Spring Training is officially delayed, Opening Day will be on the clock.
Perhaps things pick up in the coming days, but there is no getting around how wide the gap is between the two sides currently. Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich outlined the situation Monday in a story for The Athletic.
As the owners’ lockout drags into its third month, the essence of the problem is this: Major League Baseball contends it is proposing a better deal for players than the one they had under the most recent collective bargaining agreement. And the Players Association contends that the deal is worse.
The story quotes Scott Boras as saying that the players are dug in as their current salaries are falling while franchise values continue to climb.
The one agreement to come out of last week’s negotiations centered on the framework for a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players. However, per Rosenthal and Drellich, there are many details that still must be worked out. The league proposed $10 million for the bonus pool to be made available to all players who have been in the league three years or less with the exception of those with Super Two status. The union suggested $105 million for the bonus pool with an added wrinkle that players become arbitration eligible after just two seasons thus making the bonus pool money available to a lot smaller group.
In short, they really haven’t agreed to anything.
Also up for discussion is the minimum salary, luxury tax, a proposed draft lottery, service-time manipulation, expanded playoffs and you get the picture.
Things could change quickly, but this is another stark reminder that the lockout isn’t even close to being over.