MLB is preparing to present a new core economics proposal to the Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday, sources confirmed to The Athletic. The meeting, scheduled to take place via videoconference, is the first one focused on core economics since team owners instituted a lockout on Dec. 2.
The sport has been shut down for more than a month after team owners and the players union failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement in advance of the expiration of the previous CBA. Both sides made proposals addressing dozens of issues, but economics remained at the center of the discussions.
Live updates as MLB, MLBPA meet on Thursday
Here’s a look at what has happened and where things stand:
How have baseball’s labor talks progressed?
The planned resumption of conversations about core economics marks a positive development in the negotiation process. But there is plenty of work to be done if the sides are to reach an agreement and avoid postponement of the originally scheduled February start to spring training. The first slate of games are scheduled for Feb. 26, and players typically report to major-league camps two to three weeks ahead of the first game. (Jan. 11)
MLB negotiations likely to restart soon, but NBA history shows real movement waits (Jan. 7)
Sources: MLB, MLBPA unlikely to talk core economics until January (Dec. 15)
‘Radical’ differences in way Rob Manfred, MLBPA describe the path to a lockout (Dec. 2)
Little optimism MLB will avoid lockout on final day of talks before CBA expires (Nov. 30)
Rob Manfred says offseason MLB lockout different than one that cancels games (Nov. 18)
Union’s $500 million grievance against MLB gives both sides new forms of leverage in CBA talks (May 13)
What are the major sticking points in MLB’s labor talks?
The most divisive issues in talks as both sides have made proposals include revenue sharing, years to arbitration and free agency, and luxury tax.
In the final talks before the lockout became official, there was some sign of movement, even though the league’s proposals did not please the union. MLB was willing to increase the league minimum salary, although by less than the players want. MLB offered to raise the luxury-tax thresholds from the present $210 million to $214 million, and then, eventually, $220 million — less than the players want. MLB also offered to modify its draft system, to put in an NBA-style lottery draft system for the first three picks in the draft. (Dec. 1)
Players’ second proposal: The Players Association’s second proposal was said to have only minor changes compared to the first (Nov. 5)
Owners proposal: MLB proposes salary minimum funded by new tax on teams spending $180 million (Aug. 18)
How to solve MLB’s tanking problem? (Dec. 10)
Rosenthal: What a new collective bargaining agreement should look like (Dec. 8)
MLB takes rule changes off the table for labor fight (Dec. 3)
Rosenthal: Labor dispute is about one thing — Money (Dec. 3)
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner supported MLB’s proposal to lower luxury tax (Nov. 17)
Before free agency, MLB proposes paying players based on FanGraphs’ calculation of WAR (Nov. 11)
Scott Boras criticizes tanking and general managers say little (Nov. 10)
Tony Clark Q&A: The head of the MLBPA on collective bargaining, competition, salary cap (April 11)
What to expect during the lockout?
On MLB-owned media, the players now barely exist: As MLB owners implemented a lockout, the league began acting as if its unionized players — those on 40-man rosters — no longer exist. The players have been scrubbed from the league’s website and content ecosystem. Their headshots were removed from rosters, their highlights hidden, their names wiped from promotional schedules. (April 30 is “Cardinals Third Baseman Bobblehead” day at Busch Stadium.) But exactly why MLB is taking this route isn’t clear. (Dec. 7)
For Cubs’ Nick Madrigal and other injured MLB players, lockout creates unique challenges to recovery (Jan. 10)
Mailbag: Potential spring training delays, minor-league players and more (Dec. 30)
MLBPA creates agent guide to work stoppage questions (Nov. 22)
How will a lockout work this winter? (Nov. 1)
The start of spring training is in peril until there is real movement in negotiations. And real movement might not come until more is at stake than simply an on-time start to spring training. Also, even if major-league spring training is delayed, minor league spring training can still get underway on time. So what are the important dates to watch?
Jan. 15 — International signing period opens
Feb. 14 — Pitchers and catchers scheduled to report
Feb. 26 — First spring training games
March 31 — Opening Day
July 15-19 — All-Star Week
Oct. 2 — Final scheduled day of regular season
To have Opening Day as scheduled on March 31, and assuming the players would agree to a three-week camp like in 2020, the latest deadline for getting a deal done seems to be about a week into March.
How did we get here?
Inside the decade that brought on the labor fight: For five years now, a narrative has persisted inside baseball: that when MLB and the Players Association last agreed to a collective bargaining agreement, in 2016, the union was too focused on creature comforts, on luxury bus rides. That the players lost sight of the most important part of bargaining, the core economics. But like most matters of labor relations and economics inside baseball, the reality is more complicated. (Sept. 23)
MLB players want change, and Bruce Meyer is fighting to deliver it (Nov. 28)
How Marvin Miller influenced the labor movement (Sept. 6)
Expanded MLB postseason, universal DH are dead issues for 2021 (March 3)
In MLB’s latest proposal for 2021 season, players want more economic guarantees (Jan. 31)
Players’ union answers MLB’s inquiry about shortened 2021 season with swift ‘no’ (Dec. 2020)
MLB and the Players Association don’t trust each other. Does that matter? (Dec. 2020)
Salary staredown: Inside the high-stakes negotiation to restart the MLB season (May 2020)
Baseball’s midterm CBA negotiations bring early pessimism, disdain (July 2019)
(Top photo: Ashley Landis / Associated Press)