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February 21 update: CBA negotiations moving inch by inch

Progress: MLB “updates” its previous proposal, both sides manage to meet for longer than 15 minutes.

Deal Reached, No Strike For Baseball

After reaching what felt like a dead end in last week’s bargaining sessions, MLB and the MLBPA met Monday in Florida to kick off (promised) weeklong CBA discussions and *hopefully* move closer to a deal. With spring training already delayed until March 5, both sides have expressed that they are committed to meeting every day this week to get a deal in place by February 28, the deadline MLB has set in order for Opening Day (March 31) to be preserved.

There wasn’t much optimism after last Thursday’s meeting lasted just 15 minutes, but a today’s longer session indicated that both the players and owners are committed to beginning the 2022 season on time. On Monday, a few owners and MLB executives, along with MLBPA negotiator Bruce Meyer, union head Tony Clark, and players from MLBPA’s executive subcommittee held meetings throughout the day to progress towards a deal. This was the first meeting that union head Clark has attended since the lockout began. He was accompanied by strong player representation including Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor, Paul Goldschmidt, and several others.

Monday’s meeting began at 1 p.m. ET, both sides talking for more than an hour prior to breaking off for internal discussions with their respective parties. MLB and players reconvened later in the day, though there weren’t many significant updates from last week’s underwhelming proposal. As Evan Drellich reported, MLB has increased their previous pre-arbitration bonus pool offer from $15 million to $20 million, which would be distributed among 30 players. While it is the bare minimum amount of “progress,” it still comes in remarkably lower than the players’ request of $115 million spread among 150 players. MLB additionally proposed adding one more draft lottery pick, to reach four total, though the players have proposed eight lottery picks.

There are plans for the league and union to meet again on Tuesday to continue discussions, as the other core economic issues (including the CBT and minimum salaries) were not broached on Monday. We have also not yet seen a counterproposal yet from the MLBPA from MLB’s previous CBT proposal — increasing from $214 million to $222 million by 2026 —so we can presume that these talks will pick up this week.

Monday evening, it was also reported by Drellich that MLB has withdrawn their proposal to attempt to control and reduce minor league roster sizes/jobs, as well as removing their proposed limit of five minor league options. This sounds way more significant that it really is, considering MLB could still slash the minors or tinker with player movement in the future, as players have previously expressed frustration with having to alternate between leagues frequently. Plus, we already know how MLB treats its minor leaguers.

The longer bargaining session today would signal some hope, but we are just a week away from losing regular season games without a new deal. If a deal is brokered this week, however, the ramp-up to spring training will be absolute chaos — giving White Sox fans a new topic to argue about instead of whether or not Yoán Moncada is good at baseball.

While I’m not exactly optimistic given how previous bargaining sessions have transpired, I’m hoping that these longer meetings are able to accelerate a deal to end the lockout.