Major League Baseball owners leaked all kinds of “we’re getting close to a deal” propaganda last night, while players were saying a lot more quietly that while they had gotten closer that they were still far apart on multiple key aspects. That messaging from the players got buried a bit.
The two sides continued their meetings today and while a little more progress was made, Major League Baseball said their “final and best offer” was coming at 3:30pm ET, with a 5pm ET “deadline” before they would start cancelling regular season games (something that they can’t actually do as the length of the season is a part of the CBA and requires both sides to agree on it). After receiving “the best” offer, the Major League Baseball Players Association player leads agreed unanimously to turn it down according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
There were several areas where the two sides simply couldn’t get close enough to continue talks, apparently.
The Luxury Tax threshold gap was simply too large.
|Players Want||Owners Want|
If the luxury tax threshold had remained constant with revenues since it was first implemented 20 years ago it would be well over $300M today. But it hasn’t. Last season only two teams went over it – the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.
The minimum salary did get some movement today. The owners offered to raise it to $675,000 while the players were asking $725,000. Quick math here suggests that if 10 roster spots are going to a player making the league minimum that over the entire course of the CBA this would increase spending by $2.5M per team.
Fighting for the pre-arbitration players didn’t just stop at a higher minimum salary, though. There was also the pre-arb bonus pool that would go to a specific number of pre-arbitration players based on their WAR. At different points that was for 30 players, then it was 150 players. Either way, the pool money was going to be shared among that group. Ownership offered up a $30M bonus pool to be split up among the best players who had not yet reached arbitration yet (players with more than 3 years of service time who were making the league minimum). The players last offer was for that pool to start at $85M with a $5M increase each year. Past reports suggest that money would come from the MLB central fund, so each team would pay into that the same amount rather than it be paid out individually by team (which, in theory, could cost some teams more than others).
The owners of every team basically agreed to spend about $1.1M extra a year on player salaries and then another $1M to pay into the bonus pool. $2M per team. And teams actually don’t even have to increase payroll by anything here, either. They could simply not sign some free agent they had planned to for $2.7M, replace they player with a rookie making the new league minimum, and their payroll is exactly the game – the money is just shuffled around differently.
As of now there are no scheduled future meetings between the two sides. In his 5pm ET press conference, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that he will cancel the first two series of the regular season.
Let’s also be very clear here: Baseball is not happening because the owners don’t want it to. They could lift the lockout right now and baseball would go on under the last collective bargaining agreement rules, with the exception of the luxury tax threshold as that was written in to “sunset” when the previous one ended.