After a surprisingly long day, representatives for the players (and several players) and representatives for the owners (and several owners) have wrapped up their meetings for the day.
Within literal minutes, it was a running joke about how long the meeting was lasting. I mean, it took only 16 minutes to outpace last week’s final meeting, so you can forgive us for continuously raising our eyebrows as the clock ticked past the many multi-hour marks. The chronology was such that the sides met together for about an hour, and then set out to separate meetings – players together, owners together – for about three hours, before coming back together for about another hour. That seems like a good sign, and at a minimum, accelerates the pace of a similar rhythm from the last month (meet for proposal(s) then separately “meet” for like a week before getting back together).
All that said, details on what exactly went down today are relatively minimal (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I’d rather they were just talking with each other instead of strategically leaking anything). Unfortunately, while meaningful issues were discussed, the movement appears small. And, critically, the luxury tax (CBT) didn’t even register:
The sides plan to meet again tomorrow. On MLB’s prearbitration bonus pool: the $20 million would go to 30 players. Union’s latest proposal distributed it to 150 players (at $115 million)
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 21, 2022
MLB made the most recent CBT proposal a week ago, in which starts at 214M for 2022 and ends at 222M in last year of deal. https://t.co/Nvl9MBq6ri
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 21, 2022
Those issues matter. So don’t get me wrong. It’s also good that there were such extensive meetings today, and it’s good that they’re meeting again tomorrow.
… but I just don’t think any of it matters toward completing a CBA until there’s real movement on the luxury tax. And I get that the owners probably want to leave that for the end – the owners are more likely to move on the CBT depending on how other things go (probably most specifically: expanded playoffs, and the arbitration expansion request). So it’s not necessarily like I’m saying today was a disaster; I’m just saying that I’m not sure today really moved the ball much.
Are the sides really counting on being able to button up everything except the luxury tax until the last moment? Even though so many gives and takes should be predicated on major changes to the luxury tax in the first place? And what of the fact that the status quo version of the luxury tax and penalties was terrible for the players, and the owners’ current request is even worse? It’s not as if there’s just a little negotiating left on the numbers. The sides are on completely different planets on this issue.
The sides plan to meet again tomorrow, and I’ll just keep an open mind. For all we know, the sides *have* discussed the fact that they are desperately apart on the luxury tax, and have made an intentional and collective choice to leave it for later. So maybe they have more confidence that an agreement can be reached than it looks like to those of us on the outside.
It’s just, like I said, until there is real movement on the luxury tax in these offers, I don’t see how you could have any confidence that a deal will get done by February 28, the date MLB has set to avoid losing regular season games. And, as we’ve discussed, if a single game is lost, the players are taking expanded postseason off the table. And if that happens, I’m not so sure the difference between losing 1 game and 60 games is all that huge for some of the owners (and it takes only eight of them to block a deal).
Updating as I type, it seems like the owners are simply waiting for the players to respond to the owners’ last CBT proposal, which you’ll recall was an almost total nothing of a move, and remains an even firmer de facto salary cap than was in place before:
Meeting is over. More tweaks, no huge game changer. MLB added 5 mil to pre arb bonus pool and one more team to draft lottery. Union was underwhelmed. League made last offer on CBT and is waiting for a counter from union on that. It’s going to be a long week.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) February 21, 2022
I suppose I understand, but is it really going to be useful to hold out for the players to move like $2 million on the luxury tax in response to the owners’ bare bones move of $2 million? And since the owners’ penalty increase is so dramatic, why would the players even move on the threshold numbers until the owners move on that part? I don’t get it. And, like I said before I was typing this update on the fly, I don’t see any reason to be optimistic that a deal will get done until MLB moves dramatically on the luxury tax. So what the hell are we even doing here?