February 5, 2023

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MLB lockout: League sets new deadline for considering full season, could cancel more games Tuesday, per report

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Major League Baseball presented the MLB Players Association with a new set of collective bargaining proposal hypotheticals as part of a Zoom call on Monday, and did so while setting a new deadline to avoid further regular season game cancellations, according to The Athletic‘s Evan Drellich. The league’s latest self-imposed time limit will fall sometime on Tuesday evening. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred scrapped the first two series on the schedule this past week as the owner-imposed deadline entered a third month, and he is prepared to scrap another two series if the two sides fail to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by the deadline. 

In an interesting and predictable twist, the league has informed the union that it views Tuesday as the last chance for the season to be 162 games in length and for the players to receive both full pay and full service time. As Drellich noted, none of those aspects can be dictated unilaterally, and each is subject to further negotiation between the sides.

The two series that Manfred canceled last week could be added to the end of the schedule if an agreement is reached on Tuesday, according to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. The odds of the two sides reaching a new deal on Tuesday still seem unfavorable, though Nightengale added that the league’s self-imposed deadline could be pushed to Wednesday if there’s significant progress Tuesday. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted, one player briefed on the league’s call was told that the parameters remained “tilted in the league’s favor.”

The league did up its offer on the Competitive Balance Tax threshold to $228 million, per Drellich. The union has requested that it start at $238 million, but that’s the number the league would have it swell to over the course of the CBA. Previously, the league had been offering to begin the CBA with a tax threshold of $220 million. Drellich notes that the league’s offer has “major strings attached.”

Former Marlins president David Samson broke down the latest in the MLB lockout on Tuesday’s Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:

As a reminder, here’s where things stood after the union’s latest proposal on Sunday that saw them cede ground on multiple matters, including the league’s ability to implement a pitch clock, larger bases and defensive positioning rules in 2023:

  • The union lowered its request on the pre-arbitration bonus pool from $85 million to $80 million. The owners previously proposed a $30 million central fund, meaning the gap there remains sizable at $50 million.
  • As mentioned above, the union ceded no ground on its request for the Competitive Balance Tax to begin at $238 million and grow to $263 million. The league had countered with a CBT threshold that starts at $220 million and slowly climbs to $230 million. That changed on Monday, with the league going up to $228 million to begin and $238 million to end. This has been arguably the hottest button issue in negotiations, with four owners reportedly voting no to the proposal based solely on the CBT threshold.
  • The union also made no movement on its ask for a higher league minimum salary of $725,000, with annual raises of $20,000. The league has offered a minimum of $700,000 with annual raises of $10,000.
  • The union wants a draft lottery to determine the top six picks every summer as a means of curbing anti-competitive behavior. The league wants that lottery to cover only the top five picks.

A league spokesperson released a statement on Sunday suggesting the union’s offer was a step backward.