Locked out MLB players to respond Thursday to clubs’ plan

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NEW YORK — Negotiations aimed at ending Major League Baseball’s lockout will resume Thursday.

The players’ association notified management Wednesday that it is ready to respond to the offer MLB made last weekend, proposals that were received coolly by the union.

Baseball’s ninth work stoppage, its first since 1995, enters its 78th day Thursday, one day after spring training workouts had been scheduled to start.

There is little chance exhibition games will start as scheduled on Feb. 26, and the work stoppage soon will threaten opening day on March 31. Given the need for 21-28 days of training and additional time to report and go through COVID-19 protocols, an agreement by the end of February or early March is needed for an on-time start.

Clubs gave the union 16 documents totaling 130 pages, encompassing all key areas in a mix of new offers and previous proposals. The one-hour session was just the fifth on core economics since the lockout began.

Players and owners remain far apart on luxury tax thresholds and rate. They have major differences on revenue-sharing and how to address players’ allegations of service time manipulation.

MLB said it remains opposed to any increase in salary arbitration eligibility or reduction in revenue sharing.

MLB has proposed the luxury-tax thresholds rise from $210 million last year to $214 million for 2022 and 2023, then increase to $216 million in 2024, $218 million in 2025 and $222 million in 2026.

Players have proposed a $245 million luxury-tax threshold for this year, which would rise to $273 million in 2026.

MLB also has proposed increasing the tax rate from 20% to 50% for a team exceeding the initial threshold, from 32% to 75% for the second threshold and from 62.5% to 100% for the third threshold.

Teams still are asking for non-monetary penalties, which the union thinks is too harsh.

While MLB has proposed a team would lose a second-round pick for going over the second threshold ($234 million this year and next) rather than dropping 10 slots and would forfeit a first-round selection for exceeding the third threshold ($254 million).

The union fears teams would refuse to go over the threshold, prizing draft picks.

Clubs proposed a team losing a free agent would receive draft-pick compensation based on revenue-sharing status and whether a club had been over the threshold.

MLB proposed raising the minimum salary from $570,500 to $630,000 or, alternatively, a tiered minimum of $615,000 for initial major leaguers, $650,000 for players with one year of service and $725,000 for those with two years – the latter an increase from $700,000 in the previous proposal. Players have asked for $775,000 this year, rising to $875,000 by 2026.

MLB as offered a pre-arbitration bonus pool of $15 million, based on WAR, appearances on an all-MLB team and recognition such as best position player, best pitcher and best rookie. The union is at $100 million under a structure that clubs said they would accept.

To address allegations of service time manipulation, over which the union has filed six grievances since 2015, MLB offered to award up to two draft picks – one amateur, one international – for a players’ accomplishments in his first three seasons. The union opposes an international draft.

MLB is at three teams in a proposed draft lottery, while players are at eight. MLB is proposing an expansion of the playoffs from 10 teams to 14, while the union is offering 12.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

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TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”