JUPITER, Fla. — Negotiators for Major League Baseball players and owners took a break from talks until Monday, a day set by leaders to save March 31 as the opening date of the regular season and to bring carried out an entire campaign of 162 games.
Both sides held a series of short and frequent meetings that lasted until Sunday night before signaling that they would resume in the morning.
MLB indicated that, if there is no agreement by the end of Monday, there will not be enough training time for the start of the regular season as it is scheduled for 162 games.
Negotiators resolved some differences on Friday and Saturday, but as they reached the 88th day of the lockout they were still far apart on the core issues: the cap and amount of the so-called luxury tax, the new pre-arbitrage bonus fund and Minimum salary.
Between 1:00 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dan Halem made the trek four times between the offices in the main portion of Roger Dean Stadium to the area where the players congregate in the the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse beyond the right field fence.
Max Scherzer, Andrew Miller and Marcus Semien attended the talks, a smaller group than in recent days, along with union leader Tony Clark and chief negotiator Bruce Meyer. Scherzer, who lives nearby, left in the late afternoon but could return.
MLB Vice President Morgan Sword, Senior Vice President Patrick Houlihan and Vice President Reed MacPhail also met with the union, a trio of officials familiar with many of the details of the intricate collective bargaining agreement. The contract that expired was 359 pages long, plus separate agreements covering benefits, joint drug rules, and the handling of domestic violence charges.
Baseball’s ninth lockout began on December 2. Preseason games, which were initially scheduled to start on Saturday, have been canceled through March 7.
MLB has offered to increase the luxury tax threshold from $210 million last season to $214 million for this season, and raise it to $220 million by 2026. Teams also want higher tax rates, something the union says which would become a salary cap.
The players have asked for a cap of $245 million this year, which would rise to $273 million for the final season of the deal.
The union is seeking to expand the proportion of players who would be eligible with at least two seasons of major league service and fewer than three to the maximum of 35%, up from the 22% that has been in place since 2013.