Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout is on the precipice of compromising the regular season. Monday marked the league’s self-imposed deadline for when a new collective bargaining agreement must be reached before regular-season games are canceled. This would mark the first time in 27 years that regular-season contests are impacted by a work stoppage. (The 2020 season was altered by the pandemic.)
Instead, MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) talked deep into the night and then into the next morning before extending the deadline. It was 2:27 am Tuesday when news broke that the two sides had finally called it a night in Jupiter, Florida. The new deadline to meet before deciding to cancel regular-season games is 5 pm ET on Tuesday, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
As far as the progress made during the marathon sessions on Monday / Tuesday early morning, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there’s “definite progress,” but “large gaps remain in major areas.”
Meetings started in earnings at 10 am Monday, though it was on a sour note. MLB informed the MLBPA it is willing to miss a month’s worth of games and took a more threatening tone, reports Evan Drellich of The Athletic. Earlier this month commissioner Rob Manfred said missing games would be a “disastrous outcome” for the sport, words that have rung hollow in the weeks since.
Throughout the day reports of evolving talks seemed to show some progress, though. By 8:35 pm ET, a report from Drellich indicated there was movement toward a deal. The owners presented the players with two options, per the report:
1. Fourteen playoff teams, a minimum salary of around $ 700,000 and about $ 40 million in a bonus pool divided amongst the best pre-arbitration players.
2. Twelve playoff teams, a minimum salary of around $ 675,000 and around $ 20 million in the pre-arbitration bonus pool.
Multiple reports, several hours later, said the two sides ended up agreeing on a 12-team playoff format. Even if the two sides agreed on option two above, the matter of the competitive balance tax (aka the luxury tax) threshold – and the relating penalties for exceeding said threshold – discussions were ongoing. More trivial matters such as defensive shifting restrictions were also reportedly part of discussions.
In all, there were 13 meetings in person between the two sides at the spring training facility in Jupiter over the course of more than 16 hours. Again, it seems like there was progress but there is still plenty of work to be done.
The bottom line is there’s a shred of hope the season begins as planned on March 31, but there’s heavy lifting to be done on Tuesday when the parties reconvene.
CBS Sports has provided a timeline of the lockout here, but the short version is that the owners placed the padlocks on when the previous CBA expired. They were under no obligation to do so, but it was labeled as a defensive maneuver. The league then waited more than six weeks to make its first proposal. The two sides have since had a number of in-person negotiations, with some of the main sticking points including the Competitive Balance Tax; revenue sharing; the breakdown of players who qualify for Super Two status in arbitration; and the league-minimum salary.
CBS Sports is providing live updates of Monday’s and now Tuesday’s negotiations. You can find those below.