The MLBPA has dropped their proposal to change the percentage of players with 2+ years of service who are eligible for salary arbitration, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Evan Drellich of The Athletic phrases it slightly differently, reporting, “The MLBPA is willing to drop proposal to expand salary arbitration if rest of numbers work out.” Since 2013, the top 22% of those with 2+ years of service, known as Super Two players, have been eligible. The MLBPA initially sought to make that 100% of 2+ players, moving steadily downward in their recent proposals. MLB has considered changing the 22% figure to be a non-starter, despite agreeing to a change in this area a decade ago.
In what might amount to one of the players’ biggest wins in this CBA, MLB previously agreed to a new pre-arbitration bonus pool concept that will reward top performers before they reach salary arbitration. At last check, the MLBPA had been seeking a $115MM pool. Early Tuesday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (among many others) reported that MLB is currently offering $25MM for that pool. So, there’s still a significant gap here to bridge.
Goold also notes that MLB is offering a $675K minimum salary for 2022, up from $570,500 in 2021. MLB has proposed increasing that by $10K per year through the five-year CBA. The lowest-known MLBPA proposal was $775K in 2022, ascending all the way to $895K in 2026.
On the important topic of the competitive balance tax, Bob Nightengale of USA Today says MLB is currently proposing base tax thresholds of $220MM in 2022, $220MM in 2023, $220MM in 2024, $224MM in 2025, and $230MM in 2026. Notably, MLB has dropped its proposal to increase the tax rates for exceeding the thresholds. At last check, the players were seeking CBT thresholds ranging from $245MM in ’22 to $273MM in ’26, so there is plenty of work to be done here.
It appears increasingly safe to expect a 12-team playoff field this year, as well as the universal designated hitter — although it bears repeating that even these generally agreed-upon items are all part of package proposals. The league and union have not agreed on any items in isolation, but rather agreed on certain inclusions or exclusions as part of larger proposals that are gaining traction. Some major components of a theoretical agreement that remain unsettled right now include draft pick compensation for signing free agents, how anti-tanking and anti-service time manipulation measures will look, whether the A’s will be restored as a revenue sharing payee, on-uniform advertising, an international draft, and how much lead time MLB will need to provide for on-field rule changes.
According to Drellich at 7:57am central time today, MLB is willing to drop draft pick compensation for free agents, and they want the first five picks to be subject to the draft lottery. At last check, the MLBPA wanted the lottery to encompass the first seven picks in the draft, and perhaps more importantly were seeking penalties for teams that finish bottom eight to twelve in consecutive seasons.
Though significant work remains to be done in many key areas, each side has finally dropped its most extreme demand at the 11th hour: increased CBT penalties for MLB, and expansion of Super Two for the MLBPA. As an MLB spokesman put it, “We made progress. We want to exhaust every possibility.” Baseball fans have good reason to be hopeful a deal can be reached prior to MLB’s new 5pm deadline today. Talks are set to resume at 10am.