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Baseball’s cold war will thaw — a little, at least — on Thursday.
Two industry sources confirmed that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association plan to hold a bargaining session on Thursday, the two sides’ first such conference since Dec. 1 in a renewed attempt to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. MLB intends to make a new core-economics proposal at that time. ESPN first reported this development.
When that Dec. 1 in-person meeting in Dallas went as poorly as anticipated, commissioner Rob Manfred responded by instituting an industry-wide lockout (as anticipated), freezing all transactions involving players on 40-man rosters, when the prior CBA expired at midnight that night.
So great have the struggles been for the owners and players to find common ground, they haven’t even broached on-the-field issues like robot umpires and pitch clocks. The difficulties mark a continuation of the tensions that defined the two sides’ talks to return to action in 2020 after the COVID shutdown.
The players would like to see adjustments made in free agency, salary arbitration, revenue sharing and the competitive landscape, among other alterations. The owners, while not willing to move on the fundamental principles of the first three aforementioned matters, are open to tweaking the arbitration process as well as improving incentives for teams to win (as opposed to the draft rewards that currently exist for terrible clubs). While each side made proposals prior to the lockout, none picked up significant traction.
Whereas little has changed on the baseball labor front since the start of December, the domination of COVID’s Omicron variant prompted this meeting to occur by videoconference.