MLB Lockout: Negotiations Continue on Deadline Day

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On Saturday, the union made its largest set of moves to date in these negotiations, with its offer coming on the day spring training games had been originally scheduled to begin. The union significantly lowered its asks on expanding salary arbitration eligibility and changes to the revenue sharing system, and made tweaks in the league’s direction on the luxury tax.

But M.L.B., which has insisted that salary arbitration and revenue sharing are third-rail topics, and thus any changes to them are not concessions, thought the union did not go far enough in that proposal. And when the league’s negotiating team conveyed that sentiment, players were furious and considered walking away from talks.

They didn’t, and the union’s negotiating team remained in Jupiter through Monday. The sides have met every day at the unused spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in hopes of making progress. Neither spring training nor its exhibition games have begun on time, and now the start of the regular season is in jeopardy.

M.L.B. chose Monday as a deadline because it believed a minimum spring training length of four weeks — two weeks shorter than normal — made sense to avoid a spike in injuries like the one before the pandemic-shortened, 60-game 2020 regular season.

There is no obligation to begin canceling games after Monday. The 32-day lockout in 1999, for example, halved spring training but the full season was played, just beginning a week later than usual. If 2022 games are canceled, the union is expected to ask for the games to be rescheduled or demand the pay and service time for the lost games as part of a new deal.

As a counterbalance to M.L.B.’s deadline threat, the players previously issued their own threat during these labor negotiations: They told the league they were reluctant to grant club owners an expanded playoffs — worth an estimated $100 million annually — if games and money were taken from them.

Among the big items that remained unresolved entering Monday: They remained separated on the league minimum salary ($640,000 versus $775,000), a bonus pool for top players not yet eligible for salary arbitration ($20 million for 30 players versus $115 million for 150 players), salary arbitration expansion (22 percent of players with between two and three years of service time versus 35 percent), and the luxury tax and revenue sharing systems.

As they have in past labor negotiations ahead of a deadline, the sides could work deep into the night and the next morning on a new deal if Monday’s talks prove fruitful. Or if they cannot make enough headway, they could call off talks for now, and resume them later this week. After nearly a year of discussing a new C.B.A., though, the season and its money are on the line now.