MLB, MLBPA lockout negotiations ‘disappointing’

Sports

(NewsNation Now) — The first substantive bargaining session between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association Thursday was “a disappointment,” a person close to negotiations told NewsNation.

The discussions Thursday were the first on core economic issues following a 42-day gap, and MLB made proposals it hoped would at least start to generate momentum.

After MLB made its proposal, the sides caucused. The players’ association then told MLB it will respond but did not commit to a specific date.

MLB’s proposal contained no movement on free-agent eligibility or luxury tax thresholds, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no public comment was authorized.

The conversation took place via Zoom, with just one month left until spring training is supposed to begin.

The previous collective bargaining agreement expired late last year, sending the sport toward a management lockout that began Dec. 2.

Management negotiators left the union’s hotel about nine hours before the deal lapsed at 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 1. The work stoppage is the first of its kind in 26 years.

Players and owners had successfully reached four consecutive agreements without a stoppage, but they have been headed for a confrontation for more than two years.

The union demanded change following anger over a declining average salary, middle-class players forced out by teams concentrating payroll on the wealthy and veterans jettisoned in favor of lower-paid youth, especially among clubs tearing down their rosters to rebuild.

Management previously rejected the union’s requests for what teams regarded as significant alterations to the sport’s economic structure, including lowering service time needed for free agency and salary arbitration.

Pitchers and catchers are to report for spring training on Feb. 16, leaving little time for the parties to reach a deal that would allow players to start on time.

Opening day is set for March 31, and a minimum of three weeks of organized workouts have been required in the past.

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