Marathon trading session keeps opening day in play

JUPITER, Fla. — On the cusp of the lockdown inflicting real consequences on the 2022 season, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association made enough progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement in a marathon day of negotiations to forestall the postponement. threatened with opening day — at least for another 15 hours.

. Both publicly and privately, the league has said it will begin calling off games if an agreement is not reached by the end of February – a date they arrived at by working backwards from a day’s work. opening scheduled for March 31 with a four-week spring training.

But on the eighth straight day of in-person negotiations, which lasted more than 16 hours, ending just before 3 a.m., the league pushed back the deadline to Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET.

“We have made progress and want to exhaust all avenues of getting an agreement,” a league spokesperson said in explanation.

Commissioner Rob Manfred participated in several meetings between the two sides during the marathon day. The first of these, in which Manfred and MLB Chief Negotiator Dan Halem met with MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark and Chief Negotiator Bruce Meyer, was the first indication of the union that the league was serious about getting a deal.

After three months of a landlord-implemented lockout and seven days of consistent but fruitless negotiations in Florida, both sides have made by far the most visible progress with their backs against a so-called wall. And what had seemed like a long shot as recently as Sunday night turned increasingly promising as the talks dragged on late into the night.

But in the end, the union felt it had done all it could without stopping to take stock and discuss key issues with board members. And despite the league’s implicit optimism that the deadline would be extended, players still believed they were far apart economically and that none of the major issues were entirely resolved.

The eventual deal will be built on deeply interconnected elements, with the core economy representing the main scaffolding. And so, at this stage of the negotiation, everything is a package – concessions in one area are based on gains elsewhere – and everything depends on maintaining a careful balance.

That is to say, nothing is really done until everything is done.

But a possible picture had begun to emerge as the two parties separated to try and get some sleep.

Opening day could still go ahead as planned after a marathon day of negotiations that brought MLB and the players closer to a deal. (Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The league’s offer includes a luxury tax threshold that starts at $220 million in 2022 and rises to $230 million by the end of the CBA’s term, tax rates would remain the same than in the previous deal — a significant departure from MLB’s original attempt to more than double penalties and de facto toughen the soft cap.

MLB offered a minimum salary that starts at $675,000 and increases each year by $10,000 and a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players of $25 million.

The league would concede its desire for a 14-team postseason, acquiescing to the union’s 12-team tally. But the union would drop its request to extend arbitration to players with more than two years of service beyond the current 22%.

It all depends on the rest.

The union, which has resisted the idea that the season could not be played in full even if talks drag on into March, would like to see those numbers higher across the board.

Players feel like the league is trying to rush them into accepting a bad offer by creating artificial deadlines with financial implications. MLB said missed games will not be rescheduled and players will not be paid for those missed games. And in response, the union had previously issued its own threats to reject an expanded postseason if the eventual deal didn’t include a full playing or salary season.

Those two unwanted outcomes — and the broader, mutually assured destruction of another disrupted season so soon after 2020 — were enough to motivate a sizable move on Monday. The two sides will meet again at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday for a final six-hour showdown to see if that’s enough to secure an opening day on time.

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