Skip to content

MLB lockout news: Talks continue Tuesday; league reportedly moves on CBT with ‘strings attached’

As the owner-initiated lockout approaches its 100th day, representatives from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association met for bargaining sessions Tuesday in New York. The two sides met in the morning and again later in the day, according to the Associated Press and The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. Multiple offers were exchanged through the balance of the day, with the league making the latest offer around 8:15 pm ET.

Commissioner Rob Manfred could announce more regular season games are being canceled if no deal is struck Tuesday, though there is no firm “deadline” for an agreement. Manfred canceled the first two series of the regular season last week.

Tuesday is MLB’s third “deadline” for a 162-game season. The league contends that if a deal is reached Tuesday (or Wednesday if there’s enough progress Tuesday), players could be in spring training by Friday, and a 162-game season could be played with players receiving full pay and service time. Games that have already been canceled would be made up through doubleheaders, off-days, etc.

MLB previously set a Feb. 28 deadline for a 162-game season, then moved it to March 1 following a marathon bargaining session in which the two sides took baby steps toward a deal. Obviously these deadlines lack any real teeth seeing how 162 games is still on the table as of Tuesday. MLB sets the deadlines in hopes of pressing the MLBPA into accepting a deal.

The union has maintained it will seek full salary and service time no matter how many games are played in 2022, and they’ve threatened to withhold an expanded postseason without it. How many games are played, how many players are paid, and even the schedule itself are subject to bargaining. Manfred and MLB can not unilaterally dock pay for canceled games.

MLB and the MLBPA met quietly on Monday (the two sides have each expressed an interest in reducing the “media circus” that has followed negotiations) and gaps remain in the core economic proposals.

Tuesday, it appears the ownership side moved a bit.

Here are the latest known proposals:

Minimum salary

$570,500

$700,000 with $10,000 increases each year

$725,000 with $20,000 increase in 2023 and 2024, CPI increase in 2025 and 2026

Competitive balance tax threshold

$210 million

$230 million in 2022 rising to $242 million in 2026

$238 million in 2022 rising to $263 million in 2026

Pre-arbitration bonus pool

N/A

$50 million with no increases

$80 million with $5 million increase per year

The Competitive Balance Tax appears to be the biggest sticking point. Last week MLB proposed $220 million climbing to $230 million, then raised it to $228 million climbing to $238 million on Monday. The $10 million increase across the five years is a concern for the union because it lags behind MLB’s average annual revenue increase (five percent per year since 2012).

The latest offer from the owners ranging from $230M-$242M over the next several years comes with “strings attached,” according to Drellichon issues that concern the players.

MLB had previously not offered above $30 million for the pre-arbitration bonus pool, so the move to $50 million (reported by Russell Dorsey of Bally Sports) is remarkable. It also comes attached to the players agreeing to a 14-team playoff. They’ve previously been amenable to a playoff expansion to 12 teams, but not 14.

Four owners — Bob Castellini (Reds), Chris Ilitch (Tigers), Ken Kendrick (Diamondbacks), and Arte Moreno (Angels) — voted against the $220 million competitive balance tax proposal last week. Twenty-three votes among the 30 owners are needed to ratify a deal, and SNY’s Andy Martino says there is confidence the league has those votes at the $228 million proposal.

The union’s primary objective is putting more money into the pockets of players early in their careers. Roughly two-thirds of the player pool had 0-3 years of service time last season, meaning they had not yet reached arbitration and make something close to the MLB minimum. The MLBPA dropped proposals for earlier arbitration and earlier free agency a few weeks ago.

Coincidentally enough, Apple announced a new streaming partnership with MLB on Tuesday. Two games as part of a “Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader will air exclusively (meaning fans will be unable to watch these games on cable or another streaming service) on Apple TV each week beginning this year. Surely the MLBPA took notice of the Apple deal and added revenue.

“There’s not endless money out there,” Yankees president Randy Levine said Monday. “Any perception that there’s endless money, especially after COVID, is just not true.”

There are non-economic matters on the table as well. MLB is seeking the ability to unilaterally implement rule changes with 45 days notice. Currently MLB must wait a full year after submitting a rule change proposal. The league is looking to institute a pitch clock and ban the shift, among other things. The two sides are also discussing a draft lottery.

Although a 162-game season is still on the table as of Tuesday, the calendar is working against MLB and the MLBPA, and a shortened season will soon be unavoidable. Teams played 153-155 games following the 1972 strike103-111 games around the 1981 strike, and 144 games following the strike in 1995.

At 97 days and counting, the owners’ lockout is the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history, behind only the 1994-95 player’s strike (232 days). Here’s a timeline of the lockout.