This afternoon the Major League Baseball Players Association representatives sat down, in person, with the Major League Baseball ownership representatives. It was the first time that the two sides have been together in person since before the owners instituted a lockout on December 2nd. In their last in-person meeting the ownership representatives told the players before the meeting began that they would not even listen to proposals on the matter of earlier free agency and the meeting lasted a whole seven minutes before the ownership group walked out of the meeting. Shortly after that meeting the owners locked out the players.
The next meeting to discuss core economic issues, which are anything and everything that the two sides truly have disagreements over, took six weeks for the owners to come with their proposal that actually offered the players LESS money overall due to cutting down the luxury tax threshold that most teams use as a salary cap. The majority of people covering this for a living believe that the owners are not making serious proposals to try and make a compromise with the players, instead trying to simply wait them out and force them to accept whatever the ownership group wants.
As Maury Brown of Forbes pointed out earlier today, though, perhaps the owners will cave in a little bit once spring training is set to start because that will actually begin to cost them money. And that money is something that they may indeed need – or at least some of them – to help pay back what they were essentially loaned during the 2020 season from television contracts that have bills coming due.
As for today’s meeting, it was the players association that was making their presentation to the owners. Evan Drellich of The Athletic first reported that the players agreed to drop a request for an age-based free agency system. The owners were firm that they were not willing to negotiate on that, so at least in this area, there was some progress made between the two sides. But the players are still seeking to have arbitration begin after two years instead of three years and the owners are still said to not be willing to even discuss that.
Jeff Passan of ESPN is reporting that another meeting will take place tomorrow. That’s good news, probably, as things went six weeks between meetings last time. It would seem that after hearing the players proposal that tomorrow it will be the owners who will come back with a counter proposal. When that happens we will actually see if the owners are taking any of this seriously or not. The players gave in on one of their big asks this afternoon. What will ownership cede in return?