There were two differences today from the four days that preceded it: the sides met for a couple hours longer and a couple back-and-forths more today than the rest of the week, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was in attendance. So that’s how today was different, and it isn’t necessarily meaningless.
But in every other way, it sure seems like today was exactly the same as the rest of the week: small movement on a secondary issue.
Others are framing the day much more positively than my reaction to it, so maybe I’ve become so crusted over that I’m being overly negative to protect my heart. I will acknowledge I am no longer rational on this. Sorry. But I’m what you’ve got for fan-voiced context.
Some of the reports tonight:
Manfred, who has not been in the room for months, did not meet with players. Instead met 1-on-1 with Tony Clark.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 25, 2022
Proposals were traded back and forth on the draft lottery today, with significant progress made towards getting that item finished. The day ends with it close, but not quite there.
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) February 25, 2022
A little progress! MLB, players made gains today in one area: amateur draft order/lottery. MLB made a proposal on it, players countered in same day. Not done yet, but there is optimism. Rob Manfred met with Tony Clark one on one. Manfred did not meet w/ players. They’ll meet tomm
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 25, 2022
Progress: Well, at least one economic issue appears close to being resolved: the draft lottery order. Rob Manfred had one-on-one meeting today with Tony Clark, but not the players. No other economic proposals were formally discussed, officials say
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 26, 2022
I mean, it’s progress on an issue that is nearing the finish line, so I won’t totally throw it away, but … it’s such a minor freaking issue compared to the luxury tax! And arbitration! And the pre-arbitration bonus pool! And the minimum salary! And revenue-sharing! And it took them the most extensive day of negotiating just to get CLOSE on that ONE minor issue? And I’m supposed to be optimistic three days before the we’re-totally-gonna-cancel-games deadline?
Sorry. I believe too strongly in everything else I’ve said this week to expect that the draft lottery will take like three days on its own, and then boom-boom-bang suddenly there is huge moment on major issues that, to date, the owners have shown no interest in getting serious about. I’m sure there are negotiating theories out there on how you knock out some issues, however small, and then you get the ball rolling on the major stuff. Fine. Whatever. Great. Maybe. But, again I ask: what in the last three months (and two years) has shown you that these kinds of massive gaps can be bridged in just a few days? That 23+ of the owners are going to capitulate meaningfully on core economics? I just don’t see it. Talk to me when the owners actually move on the luxury tax levels and the penalties, and then I can get on board with the optimism. Until then, this is all theater.
I’ll try not to leave you with a total steaming pile, so I will say that *MAYBE* it’s a good sign that Manfred and Clark met today one-on-one. It may or may not be constructive when you get down to it, but at least they have the authority to get down to brass tacks on some of the issues and clarify for the other what’s really up (“We can’t offer a huge CBT increase, but if you move on the arbitration request, *THEN* we can say we can make a bigger CBT offer because I can sell my side that it was a win.”) So if you want optimism, in my opinion, here’s the best version: there’s a small chance that the two heads meeting together could possibly get some balls moving in a way they haven’t yet. Call it a 5% chance.
I will allow for more reports to come out tonight that better contextualize the optimism, and I’ll update if I see them.