Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have scheduled a collective bargaining negotiation session for Thursday, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). Notably, MLB is expected to present a core economics proposal to the union, marking the first development on the most contentious issues of the lockout since the league instituted the work stoppage on December 2.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote yesterday that the league was preparing to make its proposal within the next two weeks. In a bit of a surprise, they’ll come in at the earlier end of that timetable. Thursday’s conference will take place over video, tweets Evan Drellich of the Athletic.
Last-ditch efforts to progress on core economics before the previous collective bargaining agreement expired proved fruitless, culminating in a seven-minute session during the afternoon of December 1. Entering that meeting, the league had reportedly informed the MLBPA it would only entertain core economics discussions that didn’t involve changes to revenue sharing, six-year free agency eligibility and the existing eligibility requirements (for the most part, three years of service time) for arbitration. The union refused to accept those conditions, and the parties have been in a holding pattern since that point, with the MLBPA waiting for the league to bring forth another proposal.
It remains to be seen whether the league’s offer will meaningfully reignite discussions. It’s unclear to what extent MLB’s forthcoming proposal differs from its previous iterations, to which the union has not responded favorably. (MLB, of course, has been similarly unhappy with the PA’s offers). The possibility remains that the union will not consider this week’s offer sufficiently dissimilar from MLB’s past presentations to advance negotiations. Yet it’s at least notable that the parties are set to speak with one another regarding the most important topics for the first time in nearly six weeks. The sides have met a few times since the lockout began, but those discussions were limited to points outside of core economics.
Spring Training games are scheduled for February 26. In all likelihood, the parties will need to have a new CBA in place within the first half of next month to avoid any cancellations of exhibition play. That’ll require bridging the gap on a handful of key sticking points, like the service time structure, league minimum salary, competitive balance tax, playoff expansion, revenue sharing and the universal designated hitter.