TODAY: The owners made new proposals in regards to the international draft and the luxury tax during today’s talks, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links), though progress is still said to be slow. Talks will continue tomorrow at union meetings in Dallas, where Rosenthal predicts the negotiations “should intensify.”
SATURDAY: A lockout is still a possibility as the league and the union negotiate the next CBA in advance of Thursday’s deadline, but there are strong hopes it can be avoided after MLB offered to remove the current system of draft pick forfeiture associated with the qualifying offer, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports writes. Such a change would make MLB free agency “the freest free agency in sports,” in the words of one of Heyman’s sources. In return, the league wants the players to agree to an international draft.
Under the current system, if a player refuses a qualifying offer, interested teams must give up a top draft choice to sign him. The players dislike this rule because it reduces the market value of players on the edges of the qualifying offer system — including, in recent years, players like Ian Desmond, Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew and Nelson Cruz. Recently, players such as Neil Walker, Jeremy Hellickson and Brett Anderson have accepted qualifying offers, receiving less long-term security than they perhaps would have gotten on the open market.
The players also do not like the idea of an international draft, which would affect prospects throughout Latin America. Heyman writes, though, that draft pick forfeiture is considerably more costly to them than an international draft would be, particularly since a significant percentage of international bonuses go to players who don’t make the Majors.
Still, there are other topics that must be resolved, Heyman notes. One issue is the luxury tax threshold — the league has reportedly agreed to increase it from $189MM to $200MM, but the two sides have not agreed on a final number.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal had previously reported that a lockout was a possibility. Reporting since then from Buster Olney and Jayson Stark of ESPN has suggested that there was reason for optimism that a deal could be completed.