On Saturday, MLB owners and Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) representatives conducted a meeting in New York City to attempt to bridge the gap between the two sides. With Spring Training looming, this was an opportunity for the MLB owners to present their counter-proposal to the union. However, neither group seemed too interested in compromise.
In 2021, the minimum salary for an MLB player was $570,000; as revenues around the league continue to increase significantly every year, it makes sense that the minimum salary should grow too. The players association wants a $775,000 minimum salary going forward, while the MLB’s counteroffer is $615,000 as a minimum for first-year players, $650,000 for second-year players, and $725,000 afterwards, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN. This offer was amended on Saturday to include an option for teams to pay a $630,000 minimum salary to first-year players, with the team then able to give raises in the second and third years of that player’s contract, before arbitration. While this is certainly a major issue, it does seem like one that could lead to a mutually agreeable compromise; the gap between $630,000 and $775,000 is substantial, but not impassable.
However, another big sticking point is the revenue sharing bonus pool, which allocates a certain amount of money to the top 30 players around the league in a “wins above replacement” category that will be defined later by mutual agreement between the owners and the union. The Players Association has lowered their proposal so that only $100 million would be set aside for this bonus pool, but the owners have only raised their offer from $10 million to $15 million. The gap between $100 million and $15 million is quite a large one, so an amicable compromise on that front is unlikely; the trenches have been dug, and the owners don’t seem likely to budge.
There are plenty of other issues being discussed between the owners and the players union, but I’ve only highlighted two of the more contentious ones. The big takeaway from this meeting is that Spring Training will almost certainly not start on time; the first game on the books is Red Sox at Braves on Saturday, February 26, but don’t get optimistic about marking your calendars. Unless an agreement is miraculously reached in the next few days, Spring Training will be delayed by necessity. Even an eleventh-hour CBA agreement later in February can’t save Spring Training’s start time, since pitchers and catchers must report a few weeks in advance to ensure they’re adequately prepared for in-game reps. There is one major upside to this whole situation, however: every minute of delay is one more minute that the Atlanta Braves remain undisputed, incontestable World Series Champions!
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