4:47 pm: MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes observes (on Twitter) that the union’s proposed Super Two expansion — had it been in effect this winter — would have gotten around 79 more players to their first year of arbitration. However, Dierkes notes that MLB seemingly remains unwilling to alter the existing Super Two setup in any form.
1:18 pm: Today’s collective bargaining meeting between representatives from the league and the MLB Players Association lasted only 15 minutes, though deputy commissioner Dan Halem and MLBPA chief negotiator Bruce Meyer continued speaking in a side meeting for about 20 minutes afterward (according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich).
The session appeared to center around two new proposals put forward by the union, as per several reporters (including ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes). The MLBPA had been looking to move the qualifying threshold for arbitration eligibility to two-plus years of service time rather than the current threshold of three-plus years plus all Super Two-eligible players. Now, the union has now dropped that demand and replaced it with a large increase in the number of players who would be eligible for Super Two status. In the previous CBA, the top 22 percent of players who had between two and three years of service time became Super Two-eligible, and thus eligible for a fourth year of salary arbitration — today’s proposal saw the MLBPA ask that 80 percent of players now qualify as Super Twos.
In addition, the union also actually increased the amount of the bonus pool it wants devoted to pre-arbitration players. Whereas the MLBPA began with a $105MM figure and lowered it to $100MM in subsequent talks with the owners, the union has now bumped that asking price up to $115MM. This number reflects the larger number of players that the MLBPA wants to be eligible for extra money in this bonus pool, with the union wanting the top 150 players as averaged by fWAR and bWAR. In the owners’ previous offer, the top 30 pre-arb players would be eligible for a $15MM bonus pool.
Whether these changes by the MLBPA constitute a significant move in MLB’s direction will, of course, lie in the eye of the beholder. Simply moving from all two+ players being arbitration eligible to 80% of them could move a large amount of money toward MLB, and likely is viewed by the players as a significant concession.
Given how the league has been adamantly against any changes to arbitration eligibility, the MLBPA’s request for such a big increase in Super Two eligibility is likely to be flatly denied. Where this might lead, however, is some increase in the Super Two threshold whatsoever. Even if the 80% number is viewed by MLB as an extreme ask, if the owners counter with a smaller increase, the two sides might eventually find some level of acceptable common ground between 22% and 80%.
Getting the league to budge even slightly off their position of not altering the arbitration eligibility would count as some level of a win for the union, as it would help achieve their goal of getting more money to players at an earlier point in their careers. It would also set impacted players up for more money through the arbitration process as a whole, given the larger number of players getting a fourth arb year and then subsequent raises in their other three arb years.
The increase in the bonus pool figure is tied to both the Super Two ask and that broader “get more money to more younger players” goal. Because that $115MM would now be spread over 150 players instead of $100MM over 30 players, more pre-arbitration players would get some extra cash. However, as observed by Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat, this overall proposal from the union actually counts as a concession to the owners, since it would somewhat lower the bar for future arbitration cases in general.
The MLBPA did not alter their previous demands for increases to the luxury tax (to $245MM for the initial threshold) and to the minimum salary (to $775K), according to The Score’s Travis Sawchik. Beyond the 80% Super Two demand and the $115MM bonus pool, it doesn’t appear as if the union made any other changes from its previous offers — and as for today’s new proposal, the league “was not excited,” Janes tweets. It isn’t known when the two sides will next meet in regards to the bigger-picture economic issues or when MLB might counter the players’ current offer, though Janes reports that the league and MLBPA are slated to meet tomorrow to talk about non-economic issues.