Baseball’s Cold War will ease – a bit, at least – on Thursday.
Two industry sources have confirmed that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are planning to hold a bargaining session on Thursday, the first such conference of the two sides since December 1 in a new attempt to negotiate a new collective agreement. . MLB intends to make a new basic economic proposition at that time. ESPN first reported this development.
When that December 1 face-to-face meeting in Dallas went as badly as expected, Commissioner Rob Manfred responded by instituting an industry-wide foreclosure (as expected), freezing all transactions involving players on lists of 40 players, when the old CBA expired at midnight that night.
Owners and players alike struggled to find common ground that they didn’t even address on-court issues like robot umpires and field clocks. The difficulties mark the continuation of the tensions that defined talks between the two sides to resume action in 2020 after the COVID shutdown.
Players would like to see adjustments made to free agency, salary arbitration, revenue sharing, and the competitive landscape, among other changes. The owners, while unwilling to move forward on the fundamentals of the aforementioned first three questions, are open to changing the arbitration process as well as improving the incentives for teams to win (as opposed to to the project rewards that currently exist for terrible clubs). While each side made proposals before the lockout, none got significant traction.
While not much has changed on the baseball union front since early December, the dominance of the Omicron variant of COVID prompted this meeting to take place via video conference.