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HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 26: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (R) talks with General manager James Click (L) of the Houston Astros prior to Game One of the World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

When Major League Baseball announced that it was imposing a lockout on the players union last month, nobody seemed to make much of it. It was December. Fans had just seen a flurry of free agent moves to keep them happy. It was the middle of football season. The holidays were upon us.

There were so many reasons not to worry, but as we move toward the middle of January, exactly one month away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training, it is becoming painfully clear that there is a chance Spring Training won’t start on time.

The owners and players union met Thursday, January 13 for the first time since early December, and nothing substantial changed from the meeting.

MLB made an economic proposal to the players union on Thursday. The union walked away dissatisfied.

According to multiple reports MLB’s proposal included:

  • Raising the minimum salary and making more money available to Super Two players, a subset of players who quality for arbitration four times rather than the usual three based on their service time. (per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman).
  • Draft pick bonuses for teams that do not manipulate the service time of top prospects. (per Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith)
  • Adjustments to the league’s previously proposed draft lottery. (per Passan)

Other sticking points are as follows:

MLB wants to gradually raise the luxury-tax threshold to $220 million by 2026, while the Players Union wants the luxury tax threshold up higher at $245 million. Basically, the players want to see more money for younger players.

MLB wants to expand the postseason to 14 teams. The MLBPA wants to limit the postseason to 12 teams.

MLB wants to eliminate draft pick compensation for free agents. MLBPA wants service time bonuses even during the All Star Game, and other annual awards.

While it is disappointing that the players walked away still upset, the facts are it was the first meeting between the two sides in over a month. The question is how quickly will the players counter offer, and how quickly the two sides can come to some form of an agreement.

Things are getting dicey for sure. MLB Opening Day is scheduled for March 31. That is only 76 days away. Still plenty of time for both sides to reconvene and figure something out. However the longer the two sides remain far apart, the harder it will be to imagine baseball season starting on time.

That would be a huge disappointment for the fans, who would like to see a normal baseball schedule two years removed from the 60-game regular season nightmare of the COVID-shortened 2020 season.