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.