2:04PM: This afternoon’s session between the two sides concluded after seven minutes, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan (Twitter links). There won’t be any more negotiations today, and the lockout is expected to begin this evening once the current CBA officially expires.
12:46PM: Negotiators from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association continue to meet this afternoon, though there is still an expectation that the league will commence with a lockout as soon as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at 10:59 CT tonight. Several reports have suggested that the two sides are far enough on several core issues that there is virtually no chance that an actual deal could be reached prior to the deadline, yet that doesn’t mean progress couldn’t still be made as the baseball world enters a work stoppage and a transactions freeze.
In response to the league’s most recent proposal of a 14-team playoff field, the MLBPA has responded with a new proposal of its own, according to ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers. The union’s latest offer would increase the playoff field to 10 to 12 teams, and also involve a huge overhaul of the current three-division alignment in the AL and NL. Under this new idea, each league would have 15 teams split into two divisions — one with seven teams and one with eight teams — and six AL and NL clubs apiece heading to the postseason.
The union’s proposal also included such notable details as advertising patches to be worn on jerseys, and more big-picture changes to baseball’s revenue-sharing system, the free agent system, and the arbitration process. As well, the MLBPA are looking for a substantial increase in the luxury tax threshold, up to $240MM from the 2021 threshold of $210MM.
Looking at these last two proposals between the two sides, there does appear to be some room for common ground on at least a couple of fronts, even if many of the larger issues remain harder to solve. For instance, it would seem like the postseason will probably end up being expanded in some form, with the specific size to be determined. Also, while one of management’s proposals back in August involved lowering the luxury tax threshold to $180MM and installing a salary floor of $100MM, that idea seems to have been scrapped, based on natural resistance from the union. As per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, MLB’s last proposal involved the idea of the luxury tax line once again being raised by a slight extent, though it wasn’t clear if the threshold would continue to be increased on an annual basis (as in the current CBA).
Therefore, it seems reasonable to speculate that the next CBA will include an elevated luxury tax threshold of some kind, even if the $30MM jump desired by the union doesn’t happen. Left unknown, of course, is what types of penalties will be faced by teams that exceed the tax threshold, as the current system penalty system (an increasingly surchage on the overage and, at maximum, a drop in the draft order and international draft pool subtractions) have already proven to be deterrents to a large portion of baseball’s teams. The MLBPA, of course, would want to see lesser or even no penalties at all in order to create more incentive for teams to spend on roster upgrades.
“When you look at how the 2016 CBA agreement and how that has worked over the past five years, as players, we see major problems in it,” Max Scherzer told The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes (Twitter links) and other reporters. “Specifically, first and foremost, we see a competition problem and how teams are behaving because of certain rules that are within that. Adjustments have to be made to bring up the competition. As players, that’s critical to us to have a highly competitive league, and when we don’t have that, we have issues.”