Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association met again in New York on Tuesday, following up a Monday meeting that marked the first in-person negotiation session of the nearly two-month-long lockout and was categorized as heated but productive.
While a deal still seems to be a ways away, Tuesday’s meeting represented the greatest progress that the league and union have made thus far (not that that’s saying a whole lot). During the hour-long session, the league reportedly agreed to the union’s proposal of a bonus pool for players who are not yet eligible for salary arbitration. With that said, the two sides are still very far off in terms of how much money will go into that pool — the players are asking for $105 million, and the league has offered $10 million. ESPN’s Jeff Passan and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser were among the reporters to categorize the players’ reaction to that bonus pool offer as extremely unfavorable.
The bonus pool payments would be based on subjective measures such as award voting and WAR calculations — an idea that seems to be more controversial among fans and media members than it currently is with the league or the union.
The two sides also moved a bit closer in their negotiations on a new minimum salary. The union has asked to raise the minimum, which sat at $570,500 in 2021, to $775,000 in order to more fairly placate the growing number of pre-arbitration players around the league. MLB raised its offer on Tuesday to a $615,000 minimum salary for players with less than a year of service time, while maintaining its previous offer to increase the minimum to $650,000 for players with between one and two years of service and $700,000 for players with between two and three years.
Finally, the league agreed to drop its proposed changes to the arbitration process, which would have involved ending the “super two” system and determining salaries based on FanGraphs’ version of WAR.
Notably, Rockies owner Dick Monfort, who has played a key role in shaping the league’s negotiation strategy and was widely criticized Monday for asserting that it is hard for some owners to afford their franchises, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. It’s not yet clear when the two sides will meet in person again, but the talks seem to have progressed at least a little bit over the last two days, enough to raise optimism that the season — and maybe even spring training — will start on time.