MLB and players union to hold bargaining session on Thursday

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association plan to hold a negotiation session on Thursday, the first since the league locked out players Dec. 2, sources familiar with the matter told ESPN on Tuesday.

MLB has contacted the union to set up the meeting, at which the league plans to make a proposal that touches on some fundamental economic and competitive issues, sources say. The lockout came on the heels of face-to-face meetings in Dallas, during which the parties made no progress on a new labor agreement because the previous collective bargaining agreement was set to expire.

While the sides met in December to discuss ancillary matters, the path to any eventual deal lies through the economics of the sport, and the meeting could be a harbinger of how long the game’s first work stoppage will last. more than a quarter of a century.

So far, progress has been slow. The chasm between the games is significant, with players looking for substantial gains across the board with prior free agency and officiating, a big increase in the competitive breakeven threshold, better-paid players at a younger age, and new mechanics to encourage teams to win. The league said it felt it was paying players a sufficient amount overall and was seeking better competitive balance and an expanded postseason.

The Dallas meetings personified the course of negotiations thus far. The union made a proposal that mirrored the previous one. On Dec. 1, the league said it would make a counter-proposal if the union agreed to walk away from discussions reducing the time until players reach free agency and arbitration as well as any split changes. revenues. The union disagreed. League officials left the hotel where negotiations were taking place, did not return, and locked the players in that night.

MLB previously proposed changes that included the removal of direct pick compensation on top free agents, a draft lottery, a universal designated hitter, a minimum CBT threshold increase and a higher minimum wage. The union, in its latest proposal, said it was open to expanded playoffs — with 12 teams, down from the 14 the league is seeking — and allowing the league to put advertising patches on jerseys.

If the meeting puts the parties on the path to an agreement, it could save the start of spring training on time, which sources on both sides in recent weeks have called a peril. Pitchers and receivers are scheduled to report to camps in Arizona and Florida by mid-February, with the first games scheduled for Feb. 26.

Regular season games don’t start until March 31, and sources have said that in order for the season to start on time, a deal would have to be reached in early March. Due to the lockdown, a number of logistical issues – from over 100 free agents still out of work to expired visas for players from outside the US – will be widespread and should lead to a scramble no matter when a l deal is done.

Neal T. Doss