Last week, the MLB Players Association made its second proposal on core economics in collective bargaining discussions with the league. The new proposal contained only minor adjustments compared to the first MLBPA offering, which was held in May.
In August, that the MLBPA’s first offer included an emphasis on former refereeing for young players, but other details about his vision remained scarce:
Athletic now sheds more light on that initial offering, suggesting that an alteration in the draft order, a higher minimum league salary, elevated luxury tax thresholds, alterations in the income distribution system, and an unspecified change in how the service time is calculated were all included in that opening proposal.
The union’s initial proposal also included scenarios in which certain players could qualify for free agency without reaching a full six years of major league service. It is unclear if all of those goals were sustained in the union’s second offer.
Major League Baseball made a counter offer in August: a radically different setup that would have included reduced luxury tax thresholds with a minimum wage, an age-based system in which players first reach free agency at 29.5 years old, and a revenue-based, common system to replace the current arbitration structure.
Given the huge differences in what is publicly known about each side’s offerings, it’s no wonder the MLBPA reportedly viewed the league’s offer as a failure.
There is a little more light on the first MLB proposal. The league’s proposed salary floor, to be set at $ 100 million, was a “soft” floor, with unspecified penalties for teams that do not reach that mark on annual payroll rather than a firm mandate to do so:
To address player concerns about rebuilding teams, MLB’s offer included a provision that would prevent teams from being selected in the top five in the amateur draft in three consecutive seasons.
The MLB proposal also included a provision to review the system for teams to acquire international amateur prospects. Currently, teams are allocated a bonus pool annually with a cap on signing amateur players from outside the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
While agreements cannot be formally signed until the player turns 16, teams and player representatives often reach verbal agreements a year or more in advance. According to Athletic, MLB proposed to replace the current system with an international draft, the details of which remain unclear:
The potential for a collectively bargained international recruitment has long been debated. If it comes to fruition, the draft is generally expected to be a separate entity from the current draft of Rule 4 for acquiring domestic amateur talent. An international draft would exclude the possibility of advance verbal agreements for incredibly young players, but would obviously also restrict those players’ abilities to choose their preferred destination.
It’s clear that the MLB and MLBPA remain widely separated on core economic concepts, but Drellich and Rosenthal report that the parties have made progress in ancillary areas of negotiation and are scheduled for in-person conversations at next week’s general managers meetings. .
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The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, and Drellich wrote earlier this week that failure to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement by then is expected to result in a lockout and a freeze on accompanying transactions. Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark, have continued to express the hope that they will reach an agreement before that point, but the general tone of the situation seems to be more pessimistic.