JUPITER, Fla. — Locked-out players and Major League Baseball participated in a series of intense meetings that stretched into early Tuesday morning as they attempted to negotiate their way to an employment contract before management’s March 31 deadline for saving the opening day. to pave March.
The sides met nearly a dozen times Monday, and negotiations continued past midnight, when the lockout entered its 90th day. They made progress towards an agreement but remained very far apart on key issues.
Commissioner Rob Manfred met the union twice – once more than he had since the lockout began on December 2nd.
“We’re working on it,” Manfred said around 6 p.m. after his second meeting of the day with the union.
Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and Executive Vice President Morgan Sword were key figures at the meetings, including for a series of short sessions that were also attended by Senior Vice President Pat Houlihan late Monday.
Negotiations started for the ninth straight day after the league and the players only met six times in the first 2 1/2 months of the lockout on core economic issues. They have detailed each other’s positions, both agreeing to channel more money to young players but going far apart on many economic issues.
Manfred said an agreement must be reached by Monday to maintain four weeks of spring training ahead of a 162-game schedule. MLB did not set an exact time for the deadline, which meant negotiation sessions could drag on into the wee hours when both sides saw an agreement within reach.
The union hasn’t said if it agrees with the deadline, and baseball has historically shortened spring training to just three weeks.
Emotions heated up as the sides jostled for each other’s bottom line. Philadelphia star Bryce Harper posted a photo on Instagram changed to show him in a Japanese baseball uniform with the words “Yomiuri Giants you up? I have some time to kill.”
Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon, who attended negotiations last week, tweeted: “Players are used to their ‘threats’. The actions of the owners have made it clear all along that they have a number of games where they are still making profits/receiving TV money. You don’t want to play. It is sad that these are the guys who are setting the direction and ‘future’ of our amazing sport.”
The teams arrived at Roger Dean Stadium, the vacant spring training home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, at 10 a.m., three hours earlier than previous days.
Mets pitcher Max Scherzer and free agent reliever Andrew Miler were the only players on the hand. Halem, Sword and Colorado Rockies CEO Dick Monfort also participated in the talks.
According to a study by The Associated Press, players would lose $20.5 million in salaries for each day of the season that is canceled, and the 30 teams would lose large sums that are harder to pin down.
Spring training games should have started Saturday, but baseball’s ninth walkout — and first since 1995 — has already resulted in shows being canceled through March 7.
The most controversial proposals concern luxury tax thresholds and rates, the size of a new pre-arbitration bonus pool for players, minimum salaries, eligibility for arbitration and the union’s desire to change the formula for sharing clubs’ revenue.
In addition, MLB has tied the elimination of direct free-agent pay to players who agree to higher luxury tax rates and plans to continue expanding the playoffs to 14 teams, rather than the union’s preference for 12. MLB also adhered to its proposal for an international Amateur captured draft on the table.
MLB has not come this close to losing regular-season games to labor disputes since August 30, 2002. The union was scheduled to go on strike at 3:20 p.m., but approximately 25 consecutive hours of meetings and gatherings culminated in an agreement at 11:45 a.m
Negotiations haven’t had that kind of frequency this year, but they’ve gained momentum since talks moved from New York to Florida last week.
MLB has offered to raise the luxury tax threshold from $210 million last season to $214 million this year and raise it to $220 million by 2026. Teams also want higher tax rates, which the union said would act more like a salary cap.
Players have claimed a threshold of $245 million this year, which has risen to $273 million by last season.
The union wants to expand arbitration to the top 35% by veteran of players with at least two and fewer than three major league seasons, up from the 22% limit in place since 2013.
The union proposed the pool distribute $115 million to 150 players before arbitration, and management would like $20 million to be split among 30.
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