The owners and players met today to discuss core economic issues for the first time since the start of the lockout, even if today’s talks seemingly didn’t result in much (or any) common ground being found between the two sides. Ronald Blum of The Associated Press reports that the session lasted roughly an hour, with the league presenting its proposal, and the players then agreeing to make an official response and counter-proposal at an unspecified future bargaining session.
As one might expect, reports have already begun to filter out about the players’ dissatisfaction with the league’s proposal well in advance of any official response the union might make. For starters, MLB’s proposal didn’t address luxury tax thresholds or free-agent eligibility whatsoever, and the MLBPA has made clear their dissatisfaction with the current rules regarding both issues.
- In regards to the top pick in the amateur draft, the teams with the three worst records would be involved in a lottery, with the winner receiving the first overall pick. This is similar to a previous league proposal, except this time, MLB added that a team wouldn’t be allowed to take part in the lottery for three consecutive seasons (to help address tanking). The MLBPA has also wanted a draft lottery, except a larger process involving the eight teams with the worst records.
- A draft for international players, as opposed to the current “July 2” international signing window and bonus pool system.
- The elimination of the “Super Two” arbitration system, as players who would count as Super Two-eligible in the future would have salaries determined by a formula. The league’s proposal offers some leeway, as players with even one day of MLB current service time would have the option of taking part in this new system or opting to remain in the old system. Regardless of this grandfather clause for current union members, the MLBPA isn’t keen on the idea of any statistical-based calculation tied to salary, such as the league’s prior proposal to entirely eliminate the salary arbitration process.
- If a team has a top 100-ranked prospect on its Opening Day roster, and that player finishes in the top five in voting for a major award (the MVP, Cy Young, or Rookie Of The Year) during one of his arbitration-eligible seasons, the team would receive a bonus draft pick. The idea is to provide a benefit for teams so they won’t hold back top prospects for service-time reasons, as extra playing time might help a player earn an award like the ROY as soon as possible. According to Passan/Rogers, players have some reservations about this idea, including concerns over how the list of “top prospects” eligible would be determined. (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes is more bullish on the concept, as outlined in this Twitter thread.)
- An expanded playoff bracket, with 14 teams reaching the postseason. The players have expressed an openness for a 12-team postseason in the past, though as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes, an expanded playoff is “arguably players’ biggest bargaining chip” given how much the league and the owners want that extra postseason TV revenue.
- The use of the DH in both the American and National Leagues. The universal DH has widely been expected to be part of this CBA, and Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle writes that the players union seems agreeable to the idea as long as the universal DH isn’t “tied to something else as a bargaining chip.”