MLB lockout: Owners make a suggestion six weeks after the shutdown began, players reportedly unaffected

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For the first time since owners shut down players 43 days ago, the MLB and MLBPA discussed key economic issues in a video meeting Thursday. It is the first substantive bargaining session since the work stoppage began. The two sides discussed other non-economic issues last month, although the topics discussed on Thursday will ultimately determine when the lockdown will end.

MLB made an economic proposal during Thursday’s session, which ended around 2 p.m. ET, and was not well received by the league, a report Ivan Drillic of Athletic And Jeff Bassan from ESPN. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports The MLB has proposed raising the minimum salary and making more money available to Super Two players, a subset of quality players to referee four times instead of the usual three based on their time in service.

Thursday’s deal will never be struck – this session was meant to reignite the talks – and the question now is how quickly the MLBPA will file a counterproposal. It is not known when the two sides will hold another negotiating session. Here is a partial summary of each side’s final economic proposal before closing, based on multiple reports:

Gradually raise the luxury tax threshold to $220 million by 2026

The luxury tax threshold has been raised to $245 million

Pay-to-play arbitration system and free agency for everyone at age 29.5

Free agency at five years of service and age 29.5, or six years of service time, whichever comes first

Eliminate draft selection compensation for free agents

Service time rewards for All-Star game picks, prizes, etc.

14 postseason teams expanded

12 postseason teams expanded

Draft Lottery for Top Three Picks

Draft lottery with market size component

Baseball is a $10 billion-a-year industry, and how that $10 billion is distributed is at the heart of the shutdown. Among other things, the MLBPA is seeking to funnel more money into the pockets of young players, who make up an increasingly larger share of the game’s pool of players. The union also hopes to curb anti-competitive behavior (such as meltdown).

When the lockdown ends, a period will be required to finish off-season work, including arbitration, draft Rule 5 and visas for players in other countries. There is so much more than free trade and agency. Pitchers and anglers are due about one month from now, which means a delay in starting camp is a real possibility.

When to watch: Opening, March 31. Then everyone’s feet will be set on fire. Players don’t get paid in spring training and spring revenue is relatively low in the teams’ bucket. Real progress may not be made in the new CBA until regular season salaries and revenue are on the line.

The collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on December 1, and the shutdown began almost immediately. The owners voted unanimously in favor of the shutdown earlier in the day. This is the first MLB outage since the 1994-1995 players’ strike.

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