MLB Lockout Day 83: Another Day of Very Minor Moves, and Literally Zero Discussion of the Luxury Tax

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MLB Lockout Day 83: Another Day of Very Minor Moves, and Literally Zero Discussion of the Luxury Tax

Chicago Cubs

For the second straight day, representatives for the players and the owners (and some players and owners among them, including Ian Happ today) met for several hours in Florida to negotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Like yesterday, it looked the cadence was a one hour-ish presentation (this time from the players), a multi-hour stretch meeting separately, and then re-convening for a little more combined discussion.

And for the second straight day, the negotiations involved very small movement by one side and absolutely no discussion of the luxury tax:

As I’ve said before with the players taking this tack: I don’t really blame them for the small moves. It seems to me that the players have already made a serious of significant moves early in the process by taking modified free agency off the table, putting expanded postseason on the table, and moving off the demand for huge revenue-sharing changes. I have yet to see the owners make any kind of significant move on literally any issue, and their current luxury tax proposal is WORSE for the players than the previous version, which itself desperately needed change! Honestly I don’t get how the players aren’t more pissed at this point.

So, a few of the huge gaps on the lesser issues have become slightly less big. Cool. Neat. Great. But, let’s be real: the gaps on the pre-arb bonus pool ($115M versus $20M), the draft lottery (7 teams versus 4 teams), the minimum salary ($775K versus $630K), revenue sharing changes ($30M reduction versus $0 reduction), and arbitration eligibility (top 22% of Super Twos versus 75% of Super Twos) are all still really big gaps! So even setting aside the luxury tax, there are still tons and tons of major gaps to fill. You would be a fool to be optimistic about a deal being in place come Monday. Sorry.

For what it’s worth, the small sessions today featured the main reps, and then the highest-paid player in the game on one side, and one of the reportedly tightest, “small market” owners in the game on the other side:

I can’t help but wonder if those guys representing each side is an indication that they are the hardliners who are taking the most extreme positions, and thus are the ones requiring the most convincing? That said, I believe Monfort is the chair of MLB’s labor committee, and Scherzer might be the chair of the players’ executive subcommittee. So it could just be a coincidence that they might be the most extreme poles you could possibly have in the room together.

Also, still no mediation:

As for a conclusion on today’s events, I am not gonna say it all again. Or that is to say, I’m not going to type it all again, because I said it all yesterday:

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:

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?


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.