Owner system

Players propose changes to refereeing system, but little progress towards agreement

CLEARWATER, Fla. — After a Thursday meeting that ended faster than the average inning of a three-hour game, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association appear no closer to an agreement that would allow the open season on time.

The players, disappointed last Saturday by MLB’s broad proposal, countered by focusing on two issues that would help achieve their goal of higher compensation for the less tenured among them: eligibility for arbitration and a bonus pool for players not yet eligible for salary arbitration. , according to sources familiar with the talks.

On the first point, the players requested that 80% of players with two to three years of major league service be eligible for arbitration, a reduction from 100% in their previous proposal, but an increase from 22% who were eligible under the expired collective agreement.

The changes to the arbitration system, even the revised ones, are unlikely to win success with the owners, who have said since the start of negotiations that they would not budge to make more players eligible for arbitration. .

As for the bonus pool, a concept introduced by the union in previous discussions to reward entry-level players with more money for high-level performance, the MLBPA proposed a higher overall amount to compensate for the increased number of pre-arbitration players. The pool would be $115 million for 150 players rather than $100 million for 30 players. The owners offered a bonus pool of $15 million.

The entire meeting, held at the Players Association office in New York, lasted 15 minutes, sources said. But after the negotiating sessions, MLB assistant commissioner Dan Halem and the union’s chief negotiator Bruce Meyer met privately for about 15-20 minutes, sources said, in a conversation described as candid. .

It is unclear when the parties will meet again.

Meanwhile, the player owner lockout will enter its 79th day on Friday, leaving spring training complexes that would normally be populated this week with mostly vacant pitchers and receivers, except for minor leaguers. and reception staff. The Phillies are among the teams hosting a minicamp for minor leaguers. Manager Joe Girardi, the major league coaching staff and most of the front office are in attendance.

The parties remain far apart on most issues. Chief among them is the competitive equilibrium tax threshold.

Last weekend, MLB proposed an increase in CBT over the final three years of the five-year deal to $216 million, $218 million, and $222 million, from $214 million, $216 million. dollars and 220 million dollars. (The mark would remain at $214 million this year and next.) Players have been looking for a $245 million threshold this year. MLB’s proposal also included higher tax rates than in the existing deal.

Opening day is scheduled for March 31. To avoid a delay — and to allow for the four-week spring training commissioner Rob Manfred said is necessary — MLB and the players are expected to reach an agreement within the next 10 days. .