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MLB Lockout Tracker: Sides come to agreement on international draft


Major League Baseball is imposing a lockout on its players. (Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire)

Phillies Nation’s Destiny Lugardo, Tim Kelly, Ty Daubert and Nathan Ackerman will be tracking the latest breaking news surrounding the MLB lockout.

Thursday, March 10: According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, MLB and the MLBPA have reached an agreement on the international draft and qualifying offer. This was the major roadblock in the pathway towards a deal.

Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports that that the union is now waiting for a counterproposal from MLB, which is expected to come at 1 p.m. ET. The league canceled two more series yesterday, but according to multiple reports, the two sides will continue to talk on Thursday in hopes of playing a full season.

Now we wait and see if a deal gets done today or a new issue gets in the way.

Wednesday, March 9: MLB announced that it has removed two more series from the 2022 schedule after the two sides could not reach an agreement on a new CBA. The Phillies’ first scheduled homestand of the season against the Athletics and Mets will not take place as of now. The team’s first two series on the road against the Astros and Nationals have also been officially canceled.

MLB implemented a Tuesday night deadline to agree to a new CBA to play 162 games. After the two sides began making progress in the later hours, the deadline was extended to Wednesday. Now, service time and pay are a big issue moving forward in negotiations.

The international draft became the most contentious issue of the negotiations. MLB attempted to tie the implementation of an international draft to the elimination of the qualifying offer, something that the two sides agreed upon months ago.

If the two sides can reach an agreement in time to start the season on April 14, the Phillies would open with a four-game series against the Marlins in Miami.

Tuesday, March 8: Update 10:45 p.m. MLB and the MLBPA are bargaining late into the night in New York City ahead of the league’s new deadline Tuesday to play 162 games. Talks are likely to spill into the morning hours.

According to multiple reports, the league has made a set of comprehensive proposals. Here’s a rundown of some of the key proposals: 

Luxury Tax: $230 million in 2022, $232 million in 2023, $236 million in 2024, $240 million in 2025 and $242 million in 2026. $1.33 million from the pre-arbitration bonus pool counts against the tax each season. MLB is looking to add an additional luxury tax surcharge for the league’s highest spenders such as the Dodgers and Mets. Outside of the added tax tier, the monetary penalties are likely to remain the same relative to the previous agreement. Union’s luxury tax proposals range from $238 million in 2022 to $263 million in 2026.

Minimum Salary: $700,000 in 2022, $715,000 in 2023, $730,000 in 2024 $750,000 in 2025 and $770,000 in 2026. 

Amateur Draft: The draft lottery stands at six picks. Small-market teams can pick in the lottery for no more than two consecutive seasons. Large-market teams cannot pick in the lottery for consecutive years. If a bottom-six team is ineligible for the lottery in a given season, they will pick 10th. 

International Draft: MLB wants to tie the elimination of direct draft pick compensation to the implementation of the international draft. Teams would no longer lose both draft picks and international bonus pool money for signing qualified free agents. 

Pre-arbitration bonus pool: $40 million for all five years of the agreement. 

Expanded Playoffs: 12-team playoffs, per Travis Sawchik of The Score.

Tuesday, March 8: On Monday, MLB imposed another deadline for a new deal. Tuesday night is now the new deadline to reach a deal to ensure that 162 games are played and players receive full pay and full service time according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic. If a deal is reached, players would report to spring training on Friday.

If a deal is not reach, MLB is expected to cancel another week of games. For the Phillies, that could include the home opener against the Athletics as well as a home series against the Mets and possibly a couple games during a four-game set in Miami. All spring training games through March 17 have been canceled.

Per Drellich, MLB is proposing a 2022 luxury tax of $228 million, which would increase to $238 million in 2026. The MLBPA is seeking a $238 million tax in 2022 that rises to $263 million at the end of the deal in 2026. Drellich cautioned that MLB’s proposal “is said to have major strings attached.”

Tuesday should be another busy day of bargaining.

Sunday, March 6: Both sides resumed bargaining on Sunday in New York City. In its latest proposal, the MLBPA offered increased flexibility on three specific rule changes: pitch clocks, banning the shift and larger bases. Current rules state that the commissioner has the power to unilaterally implement a rule change if he gives the union a year’s notice. Sunday’s proposal cuts that time down from a year to 45 days starting in 2023 for those specific changes.

While the two sides did have discussions on the luxury tax, the union did not make any changes to its previous proposal, which includes a $238 million luxury tax for 2022. MLB’s current proposal is a $220 million tax that increases to $230 in 2026.

Per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, the union suggested that the two sides meet again on Monday, but there’s no word yet on when MLB will respond to MLBPA’s latest proposal.

Friday, March 4: Update, 5:33 p.m. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the MLBPA is open to discussions with the league on a 14-team playoff field, hoping that expansion even beyond a proposed 12-team format could come in exchange for movement on other issues like the Collective Bargaining Tax threshold.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Scott Lauber noted, the MLBPA had previously opposed the league’s 14-team proposal because it believed it didn’t provide enough reward to all division winners, beyond just that with the league’s best record. Lauber noted that according to Max Scherzer, a leading MLBPA representative, Wild Card Round home-field advantage wouldn’t incentivize teams to spend in an effort to win their division. First-round byes for all division winners, however, could offer more incentive.

The league is in favor of an expanded playoff field in large part due to increased revenue from broadcast deals.

Friday, March 4: The MLB Players Association announced Friday that they are launching a $1 million fund for workers impacted by the owner-imposed lockout.

According to an MLBPA press release: “The fund will be administered by Major League Baseball Players Association and the AFL-CIO and distributed to stadium workers and others who face financial hardship through no fault of their own due to the MLB franchise owners’ lockout.”

The union is currently working on a counterproposal to the league’s last offer from Tuesday, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The two sides met informally on Thursday in New York. No new meetings have been scheduled yet, but they are expected to come soon, per Rosenthal.

According to the Phillies website, all spring training games through March 11 have been canceled.

Tuesday, March 1: Update, 4:40 p.m. The start of the 2022 Major League Baseball season is officially in jeopardy, as the owners’ “final” offer was unanimously rejected by MLB Players Association leaders, according ESPN‘s Jeff Passan. MLB had moved back its self-imposed deadline for a deal to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, saying that the start of the season would be canceled if a new collective bargaining agreement was not made by then.

One leader in the MLBPA called the owners’ offer “a slap in the face,” according the The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal. As reported by Passan, the proposal included no changes to the luxury tax thresholds, a $5 million increase to pre-arbitration bonus pools and an increase of minimum salaries from $675,000 to $700,000.

Tuesday, March 1: For the first time in a while, it seems like there’s a semblance of a chance that a deal could get done in time to salvage the scheduled March 31 start to the regular season.

The two sides bargained well into the night. Talks began at 10 a.m. ET Monday and ended shortly after 2 a.m. ET the next day. MLB decided to push back its self-imposed deal deadline to March 1 at 5 p.m. ET. According to Ron Blum of the Associated Press, things began to pick up when commissioner Rob Manfred told players in a mid-afternoon meeting that he wants to make a deal. More proposals were exchanged as the day moved along. Per The Athletic, management’s proposals included: 

  • A $220 million luxury tax in 2022 that rises to $230 million in 2026. Luxury tax rates would remain the same from the previous agreement. Players want a $245 million tax threshold for 2022 and previous reports have indicated that anything below $230 million is a non-starter for the union. 
  • A $25 million pre-arbitration bonus pool. Players are seeking a $115 million pool. 
  • A minimum salary raise from $570,500 to $675,000 in 2022 with a $10,000 raise every season through the duration of the deal. Players are aiming for a $775,000 minimum salary in 2022. 

In what was perhaps the biggest development of the night, both sides have reportedly agreed to move forward with a 12-team expanded postseason. The union also floated around the idea of incentivizing teams to win their division and aim for higher seeding in an expanded postseason format with a “ghost win” concept, per Ken Rosenthal. In the six team per league format, the top two division winners receive a bye to the Division Series. The worst division winner gets home-field advantage and would only have to win two games out of a possible four in the wild-card round. The worst wild card team would have to win three out of a possible four against the aforementioned worst division winner. The other series, which would be between the first and second-best wild-card winners, would be a best-of-three series with the top wild-card team having home-field advantage. It’s not known yet if the “ghost win” incentives were included in the initial deal for a 12-team playoff proposal, but it’s highly likely that the wild-card series would take place entirely in the higher seed’s ballpark.

Players have also shown a willingness to completely back off its request to expand “Super Two” arbitration eligibility. The sides are still far apart on issues such as revenue sharing and the international draft. Players want to further incentivize small market teams to generate more revenue while the league wants to institute an international draft.

The sides have already begun meeting in preparation for MLB’s 5 p.m ET deadline. 

Monday, Feb 28: MLB and the MLBPA have been negotiating for nearly 12 hours. The sense is that there is a slight chance the two sides could come to an agreement in time to start the season on March 31, but the sides still remain far apart on key issues. According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, MLB has made a package offer on certain core economic issues. 

The notable exclusion here is the competitive balance tax. For a deal to be agreed upon, MLB will have to both significantly lower its luxury tax rate proposals on all three levels and significantly increase its proposed luxury tax thresholds. MLB’s luxury tax rate proposal currently stands at 45% for the first tier, 62% for the second ($20 to $40 million over) and 95% for the third ($40 million or more). MLB’s current first luxury tax threshold stands at $214 million for the 2022 season. The MLBPA is seeking a $245 million threshold in 2022 with the monetary luxury tax penalties remaining the same relative to the last agreement. 

MLB could decide to disregard its artificial Feb. 28 deadline and continue bargaining on Tuesday, according to multiple reports

Stay tuned.

Sunday, Feb 27: Talks between MLB and the players association were described as “productive” by a league official, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. Both sides were mum on the details regarding negotiations, but MLB and the MLBPA will meet again on Monday starting at 10 a.m. for what could be the final day of negotiations from Jupiter, Fla. A union official reportedly stressed that the two sides were far apart on many issues. 

MLB self-imposed a Feb. 28 deadline for a deal to get done in order to both start the regular season on March 31 and play 162 games. The union disputes the hard deadline. As Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs notes, the number of games played is subject to collective bargaining, so MLB cannot unilaterally cancel games.

Saturday, Feb. 26: As we tick closer and closer to the Feb. 28 deadline that the league has set to avoid the cancellation of any regular season games, Saturday seemingly was not a productive day in negations.

Evan Drellich of The Athletic obtained MLB’s proposal on the luxury tax threshold, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a willingness to move from the league:

Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports hears that “there’s a lot of negativity about today,” adding that the MLB Players Association is adamant about the luxury tax thresholds rising in the new CBA, while the penalties for those who surpass it remain the same from the 2017-2021 CBA.

As you can see above, the league doesn’t appear willing to raise the luxury tax thresholds much, if at all. The luxury tax threshold in 2021 was $210 million, and the amounts proposed by the league are very small increases from that, especially when you account for inflation and MLB’s proposal including increased penalties.

Friday, Feb. 25: Rob Manfred attended Friday’s bargaining session in Florida, marking the first time the commissioner of baseball made an appearance during a negotiation session since the lockout began. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark has been present for in-person negotiations since Monday. Manfred and Clark reportedly met one-on-one.

The two sides reportedly made significant progress in one area: the draft lottery. No deal was reached, according to reports, but the two sides are close to settling that issue. Key issues such as the competitive balance tax, salary arbitration and service-time manipulation are still up for grabs. 

An MLB spokesperson told Evan Drellich of The Athletic that all spring training games through March 7 have been canceled. March 8 is the earliest date in which the spring training schedule can begin.

The two sides will meet again beginning at noon on Saturday.

Thursday, Feb 24: The MLBPA offered tweaks to its amateur draft and service-time manipulation proposal. Key subjects such as the collective bargaining tax and arbitration eligibility were not addressed in the players proposal. Per the Boston Globe, MLB expressed that the league has “run out of ideas.”

The two sides will meet again Friday.

Wednesday, Feb. 23: MLB put forth a counterproposal on the third-straight day of negotiations in Florida. The league reportedly raised its minimum salary proposal by $10,000, but the most notable bit of news from today came from an MLB spokesperson who confirmed that missed games will not be made up at a later time. If Opening Day is canceled, the regular season will not be 162-games long.

“Missed games are missed games. Feb. 28 is the deadline,” an MLB spokesperson told Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe

The sides are expected to resume negotiations on Thursday. MLB’s deadline to reach a new agreement to start the regular season on March 31 is Feb. 28.

Update 5:50 p.m. ET: Per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, MLB suggested requesting assistance from a federal mediator. The union rejected the request. Both sides have to agree in order for a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to intervene in the sport’s lockout. MLB formally requested assistance from a federal mediator three weeks ago.

Tuesday, Feb. 22: MLB and the MLBPA met for a second consecutive day. The MLBPA presented a counteroffer to the league in which the players reportedly tweaked its proposals on the draft lottery, “Super Two” arbitration eligibility and the minimum salary.

The league and the players union reportedly held a smaller side session during Tuesday’s negotiation session. Deputy commissioner and the league’s top negotiator Dan Halem along with Rockies owner Dick Monfort met with MLBPA lead negotiator Bruce Meyer and Mets pitcher Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s executive subcommittee.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Wednesday.

Monday, Feb. 21: With seven days to go before MLB’s Feb. 28 deadline to reach a new agreement to start the regular season on time, the league and the players met at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. The bargaining session reportedly lasted several hours with both sides spending most of that time caucusing amongst each other, which is typical in labor negotiation sessions.

According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, MLB proposed to increase its pre-arbitration bonus pool offer from $15 to $20 million and to expand the league’s proposed draft lottery from three teams to four. The MLBPA is seeking a $115 million bonus pool split amongst 150 players along with an eight-team weighted draft lottery.

The two sides did not discuss the competitive balance tax, per Drellich. Meetings are expected to resume Tuesday.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Steve

    February 24, 2022 at 11:28 am

    IN A SPORT (BASEBALL) THAT IS ALREADY LOSING FANS
    THIS WILL JUST ACELLERATE ITS DEMISE. BYE BYE BOZOS

  2. Christine DiGiesi

    February 25, 2022 at 8:20 am

    What has happened to baseball ? It use to be played for the love of the game. The owners are ruining this with their greed , enough iron out an agreement and get the season started.

  3. Andrew Cuomo

    February 25, 2022 at 10:24 am

    I have been watching major league baseball and the Phillies since the 1950’s till currently. I’ve never seen anything like this!

  4. Ramona McKeown

    March 1, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    Will the Phillies still be in Florida for spring training this month? Are games announced on schedule still being played?

  5. Steve

    March 1, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    HUMAN GREED IS SOMETHING TO OBSERVE
    TO WATCH THEM SELF DISTRUCT IS AMAZING
    THEY ALL HAD IT MADE. PAID at least
    Well over $500,000 to play a kids game
    BUT that is NOT ENOUGHT! Same with the
    Owners. Greedy, Greedy, Greedy, D O P E S

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