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Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB Lockout, Day 56: Players see league concessions as not enough

MLB players’ wholly different point of view from owners increases chances of lockout extending through scheduled start of spring trainingGETTY IMAGES

MLB owners in CBA talks yesterday "made concessions in some areas but did not bring up other key economic concerns," and the "overall response from the players was one of disappointment," according to sources cited by Michael Silverman of the BOSTON GLOBE. An MLB official said that while the owners believe that they "took significant steps toward forging a path to a new deal with the proposals," the players’ "wholly different point of view only increases the chances of the owner-imposed lockout extending through the scheduled start of spring training." Yesterday’s session in N.Y. was said to be "less contentious" than Monday’s, but the "tepid response from the players affirmed the macro view of negotiations as the sides inching closer but remaining miles apart." It is the players who are "seeking the biggest changes" in the next CBA, with the owners "generally content with the status quo." The union will "examine the proposals made by the owners over the next several days before scheduling the next core-economic bargaining session" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/26).

SALARY CHANGES: In Philadelphia, Scott Lauber notes MLB reps in yesterday's one-hour meeting "withdrew a proposal to reform the salary arbitration system." On Monday, the players "agreed to drop bids for earlier free agency based on an age-related structure and a dramatic reduction in revenue-sharing money for small-market teams," changes that the league "regarded as nonstarters" before the owner-initiated lockout began on Dec. 2. MLB moved to "raise the minimum salary to $615,000," an increase from their "previous pitch of $600,000 but far from the players’ request of $750,000." The $615,000 minimum also is "fixed and doesn’t allow for teams to raise it at their discretion." The league "agreed to the concept of a bonus pool to raise the salaries of entry-level (pre-arbitration) players based on Wins Above Replacement and postseason awards." But while MLB proposed a $10M bonus pool, the "players are seeking" $105M. MLB also "didn’t move closer to the players’ request to raise the luxury-tax threshold" to $245M. The owners want a $214M bar in '22 (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/26). MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand said the fact that the league is "willing to work" on the bonus pool concept "based on the union's framework was a significant step forward." Feinsand: "It was a productive day as far as the talks go" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 1/25).

NON-CORE TALKS CONTINUE: The AP's Ronald Blum wrote "incremental progress over two days was positive," given the sides "didn’t even speak about central economic issues for six weeks" before talks resumed Jan. 13. The sides "agreed to continue negotiating on non-core issues," while the union "deliberates its next step on the bigger economic components." Free agent P Andrew Miller and Rockies Owner Dick Monfort were at Monday’s session but "did not attend" yesterday (AP, 1/25). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes the two sides are "scheduled to talk again this week on non-core economic issues such as the All-Star Game, international play, drug testing among other items," but the "serious economic differences remain." The union still is "waiting for MLB to make a new proposal on the luxury tax after offering to increase it" on Dec. 1 from $210M to $214M. No date is "yet set for the next negotiating session on economic issues" (USA TODAY, 1/26).

SLOW NEWS CYCLE: In Houston, Brian Smith writes thanks to the lockout, there is "no real baseball news just two weeks away" from spring training. Yesterday's Baseball HOF vote will "help fill a few news cycles." But if the lockout is "still going and MLB remains frozen," it will be "back to nothing for a sport that for years has struggled to promote its own stars." If MLB's lockout continues and real games are canceled in '22, that will become MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's "baseball legacy" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/26).

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