After a month and a half with no substantial talks between MLB owners and players, this week’s negotiations at the very least seem like progress, even if a deal still seems far away.
The most significant development from Monday’s talks is the Players Association reportedly withdrawing an earlier proposal for players to reach free agency faster, per Evan Drellich at The Athletic:
That means the amount of service time it takes a player to reach free agency — six years — is most likely going to remain unchanged whenever the sides reach a new deal. The players had previously proposed a system to get some players to free agency after five years if they had reached a certain age: 30 1/2, and then eventually, 29 1/2.
Previous reports of the sparse talks between the two sides were that owners would not even consider changes to revenue sharing, time to free agency, or time to salary arbitration. At the very least, this represents the players narrowing down the aspects of a potential deal that are most important.
The MLBPA also amended its ask to cut revenue sharing, per multiple reports. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reported the players previously wanted to reduce revenue sharing by $100 million, but Monday’s proposal trimmed that to a $30 million cut.
These developments don’t mean a deal is imminent, or even close. But it’s a step in the right direction, especially after this counteroffer came 11 days after MLB’s latest offer, which was 43 days after the two sides previously met.
The fact that players and owners met in person — for the first time since December 1 — is another positive sign, even though the meeting on Monday was “contentious,” as described by Jeff Passan at ESPN.
Another positive sign is that the two sides will meet again tomorrow, per multiple reports. These are baby steps, but it seems better than stagnancy at this point.
Now we’ll see if the owners will also make concessions as talks continue, or if they, as Drellich wrote at The Athletic last week, will try to test the MLBPA’s resolve.
We talked about this on the True Blue LA podcast last week. We’re not yet at the point of urgency when missing games becomes imminent. Getting closer to that deadline of sorts will likely spur more action.