Major League Baseball and the MLBPA held their first round of collective bargaining talks on Tuesday, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reports. The meeting took place via video conference and featured “dozens of people,” including members of player leadership, according to Passan. It was the first time MLB and the union have negotiated since the players rejected the league’s proposal for a delayed 154-game regular season on Feb. 1.
The current CBA expires on Dec. 1, and if the two sides don’t reach a deal by then, the sport could experience its first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike. The relationship between the league and the players has taken an especially contentious turn over the past couple years, which could make it difficult to achieve labor peace by the start of December. At the same time, both sides understand that failure to reach an agreement could cause serious damage to the $10 billion-per-year industry, Passan writes.
As negotiations continue, the union will turn some of its focus toward “spending and competitive integrity,” per Passan. Along with pushing for teams to spend more, the players would like to earn more money earlier in their careers – which could mean changes to the current service-time setup. Under today’s rules, a player must have six years of big league service time to reach free agency. With that in mind, many clubs have kept talented prospects in the minors for seemingly longer than necessary in order to gain a seventh year of control.
On the ownership side, there continues to be a desire to increase the number of playoff teams per season. More than half of the league’s teams (16 of 30) made the playoffs during the shortened 2020 campaign, but the field reverted to 10 this year after the union turned down an expanded postseason as part of the league’s 154-game proposal.