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OC Register: MLB talks lack progress, spring training likely delayed


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NEW YORK — Baseball negotiations lasted for an hour Saturday when Major League Baseball made a new proposal that lawyers for locked-out players thought had only minor movement.

Major League Baseball eliminated the penalty of a third-round amateur draft pick for exceeding the luxury tax threshold.

Management maintained its plan to increase the threshold from $210 million to $214 million in both 2022 and 2023. Baseball increased its proposed threshold to $216 million in 2024, followed by $218 million and $222 million in the last two years of its proposal.

Bruce Meyer, the union’s head negotiator, arrived at Major League Baseball’s office with two staff lawyers for the meeting just four days before the scheduled start of spring training workouts.

It was just the fifth bargaining session on core economics since the ninth work stoppage in baseball history began on Dec. 2, after the expiration of a five-year labor contract.

The clubs made a 130-page offer that they hope could be the structure of an eventual memorandum of understanding.

MLB also proposed raising the minimum salary from $570,500 to $630,000 or alternatively a tiered minimum of $615,000 for initial major leaguers, $650,000 for players with one year of service and $725,000 for those with two years — the latter an increase from $700,000 in the previous proposal.

MLB also offered to increase the pre-arbitration bonus pool from $10 million to $15 million. The union is at $100 million.

To address union allegations of service time manipulation, MLB offered to award two draft picks — one amateur, one international — for rookie accomplishments, up from one. The union opposes an international draft.

In addition, to address roster churn, MLB proposed a limit of five optional assignments of a player to the minor leagues each season.

Clubs also offered to guarantee a drafted amateur who participates in the pre-draft physical program a contract of at least 75% of slot value, with a stipulation that a player who passes a pre-draft physical cannot be flunked for his post-draft physical. This would address for the future the Mets’ decision not to sign Kumar Rocker.

MLB valued its offer on the minimum and pre-bonus pool as being of $200 million more in value to players over five years than the previous deal.

Players’ lawyers said they planned to discuss the offer with the union’s executive board.

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