MLB Lockout Update: Feb. 26
The beginning of the end could be in sight for the Major League Baseball lockout that started back on the first day of December.
The first domino fell after months of stalled negotiations: the postponement of spring training.
To many, this would appear to be the opposite of the right direction, but the delay has increased urgency. The players association and the owners have met everyday this week and will continue to meet everyday through the Feb. 28 deadline.
If a deal is not agreed upon within this timetable, Opening Day, which is scheduled for March 31, will be delayed. No games will be rescheduled and players will not receive compensation for missed games.
Back in 2020, when COVID-19 delayed the beginning of the season, the MLBPA and MLB took their time in deciding on key factors for the season. They went right up to the deadline that would have completely washed away the season.
If those negotiations are telling of what is going to happen with the current ones, the outlook for the next few weeks could be bleak.
The two sides continue to blame one another for the lack of progress during meetings. This week, both sides lowered some of their requests, but nothing has made a considerable dent in the gap that separates these two parties.
One of the most important topics of disagreement is the collective bargaining tax. The CBT has become a major concern over the past few seasons as the gap has widened between the teams with the largest payrolls and those with the lowest payrolls.
This threshold, which serves as a salary cap within many organizations, has changed the competitive balance of the league.
With certain owners being unwilling to near the mark, teams are retaining younger players and not making a push for marquee veteran free agents. Over the last few offseasons, the league has seen various superstars remain on the open market for long periods of time.
The players association is seeking a threshold of $245-million that increases by $7-million every year. On the flip side, the owners are offering a threshold of $214-million that only reaches $222-million over the next five years. That is a $31-million difference right off the bat.
With the threshold, arbitration years have become more important for teams looking to keep their young players. The collective bargaining agreement that just expired gave teams control of players for up to six years, as arbitration took place between years three and six.
The union is seeking to get their players to the open market earlier in their careers so they are able to make more money earlier. Some players' primes are taken up by arbitration years and they never get their chance to get a large contract.
In their latest proposal, the MLBPA asked that 75% of players would be eligible for arbitration between years two and three.
Before arbitration players get paid a low salary, but the two sides have been discussing a new concept of a pre-arbitration bonus pool, which would get extra money flowing the way of young players. With this being a new concept, the sides have some logistics to figure out as they currently sit $95 million apart in their proposals.
With all the differences in requests, the two sides have made one agreement: a draft lottery system. Some teams have very low payrolls that make it seem like they are tanking, and the sides are both concerned about the competition. For this issue, the sides are separated by just three picks.
The MLB has attempted to get a third-party mediator to help sort out the division between the two sides, but the MLBPA is unwilling to let that happen.
For now, fans will keep their eyes on Jupiter, Florida where the negotiations are taking place.
Justin Ciavolella is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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