Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association held a bargaining session via Zoom on Thursday, the first substantive talks since the lockout began six weeks ago.
The league made a new proposal that, according to sources, included significant increases in pay for players with two-plus years of service time, with the best players earning even more in bonuses based on performance. The proposal also included ideas to address players’ concerns regarding alleged service-time manipulation to incentivize teams to include top prospects on Opening Day rosters.
MLB also offered proposals on issues where common ground already existed, some in direct response to the players’ desire to incentivize competition. Those included changes to the Draft order process to address concerns of alleged tanking, postseason expansion and the addition of a universal designated hitter.
Thursday’s meeting was initiated by MLB in an effort to find a path toward a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides had met on other issues in the weeks since the lockout began, but Thursday marked the first time they discussed any core economic issues.
Per sources, the union’s primary objective has been a substantial overhaul of the sport’s economic system, including three core components that have been part of the CBA for decades: six-year free agency, Super-Two eligibility and revenue sharing.
MLB’s proposals prior to the lockout included a number of concessions to players, including an NBA-style draft lottery, a universal DH, an increase to the minimum player salary, an increase in the CBT (competitive balance tax) threshold and the elimination of the qualifying offer system, which would remove draft-pick compensation from all free agents.
MLB had also offered a 14-team postseason format in a proposal that would have increased the CBT threshold from $210 million to $214 million, eventually climbing as high as $220 million. The union’s most recent proposal prior to the lockout called for a $245 million CBT threshold and an expanded postseason format that included 12 teams.