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Tony Clark, Rob Manfred meet in person as MLB negotiations continue

Guarded optimism on the fifth day of labor talks this week in Florida

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MLB Owners Meetings Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Friday was the busiest day of the five days so far in Jupiter, Florida, with MLB owners and the players union meeting multiple times for bargaining. In addition, commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark met face to face separately.

Ronald Blum at the Associated Press said of Friday’s meetings, “For the first time all week, both sides expressed a feeling they had moved in a positive direction.”

That progress came in the form of talks about the draft lottery. From Chelsea Janes at the Washington Post:

Exactly where they ended up by Friday night remains unclear, but people familiar with the negotiations said that both sides, during the course of the day, offered changes to the restrictions proposed on how often teams could be in the lottery. Both sides are hopeful they can finish dealing with that issue early Saturday, then build off the first ounce of momentum they’ve generated in months to get a deal done by Monday.

But even that hint of optimism, or progress, came with a reminder of how far apart both sides are.

Adding an extra wild card round would mean at least $100 million extra per year to the league, and is likely the players’ largest bargaining chip. To tie expanded playoffs to a relatively minor portion of the CBA like the draft lottery doesn’t make much sense.

No progress was reported on any of the bigger issues, like the competitive balance tax, minimum salary, or pre-arbitration bonus pool. But that players and owners are still meeting is something, at least.

Saturday will mark the sixth straight day of bargaining sessions between players and owners, matching the total for the first 11-plus weeks of the league-imposed lockout.

Friday also saw the league lop three more days off the spring training schedule, with exhibition games slated to start no later than March 8. Then there’s the matter of MLB’s stated deadline of Monday for a deal to be reached before regular season games start getting canceled.

Big movement needs to happen in these next three days for that to happen.

Hannah Keyser at Yahoo Sports on Friday morning described the Jupiter portion of the negotiations: “This week in Florida has been spent trading nominal concessions while avoiding the most contentious issues at the table, whiling away the days until we find out whether some real stakes can sweeten the deal.”

Links

  • Before he made his historic major league debut 75 years ago this April, Jackie Robinson first had to make the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rhiannon Walker at The Athletic wrote about the first few months before Robinson’s debut, when after hitting .349/.468/.462 with 40 steals and 113 runs scored in 124 games in Triple-A Montreal in 1946, there was some thought he might return to Montreal to start 1947, only making a paltry $4,000. (Robinson did make the Dodgers, and made $5,000 in the majors in 1947.)
  • Mookie Betts is among the players interviewed for “After Jackie,” a documentary about the second wave of Black baseball stars after Jackie Robinson. Manny Randhawa at MLB.com has more on the joint project, which is “produced by NBA superstar LeBron James and his Sports Emmy-winning brand Uninterrupted, in collaboration with the History Channel, Firelight Films, Major League Baseball and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.”
  • Because the Braves are owned by the publicly-traded Liberty Media, they are required to post quarterly financial data. Friday’s report showed the Braves had a $104 million operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA). The Braves last four years — which includes a $53 million loss during the pandemic-truncated 2020 — have averaged $47 million in OIBDA, throwing a wrench into usual MLB claims that owing a team isn’t profitable. Kris Willis at Battery Power has more.
  • New grass is getting put in at Dodger Stadium. CBS Los Angeles has video: