The chances of an on-time spring training are almost starting to disappear

Chief negotiator Bruce Meyer leads a players' union negotiating team to negotiations at the MLB offices on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in New York City.  General Counsel Ian Penny is left back, Assistant General Counsel Matt Nussbaum is center right and Assistant General Counsel Jeff Perconte is far right.  Talks to end Major League Baseball's lockdown are resuming after a week-long hiatus ahead of the scheduled start of spring training in mid-February.  (AP Photo/Ron Blum)

Chief negotiator Bruce Meyer leads a players’ union negotiating team to negotiations at the MLB offices on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in New York City. General Counsel Ian Penny is left back, Assistant General Counsel Matt Nussbaum is center right and Assistant General Counsel Jeff Perconte is far right. Talks to end Major League Baseball’s lockdown are resuming after a week-long hiatus ahead of the scheduled start of spring training in mid-February. (AP Photo/Ron Blum)

PA

What little chance there was of an on-time start to spring training all but disappeared Tuesday during a contentious 90-minute negotiation session between the locked-out players and Major League Baseball.

The players made two slight moves in the first meeting in a week.

The union reduced its proposed cash reserve for players eligible for pre-arbitration from $105 million to $100 million. The union has also reduced the number of players it wants to credit with an extra year of major league service to the top 20 in every position in every league by WAR, or the top seven, depending on position, down from 30. and 10.

Players and owners did not attend Tuesday’s session but participated by video.

A session on non-economic issues is scheduled for Wednesday and there is no date for the resumption of talks on core issues, such as luxury tax thresholds. The owners are due to meet Feb. 8-10 in Orlando, Florida, making it less likely that there will be any negotiations during those days.

Given the lack of urgency in talks to end a work stoppage that began Dec. 2, both sides are behaving as if it’s a foregone conclusion that spring training workouts won’t begin. as planned on February 16.

Players don’t start racking up salaries until the regular season, which is due to start on March 31, making it unlikely there will be a big move until mid-February at the earliest.

A minimum of three weeks of practice and exhibition matches are required to start the season, with additional time beforehand for players to report to training camps and comply with COVID-19 protocols.

Sign of the lack of progress, the players’ association makes available to its members allowances of $ 5,000. The union had $178.5 million in cash, U.S. Treasury securities and investments as of Dec. 31, 2020, according to its most recent Financial Disclosure Form filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Baseball’s ninth work stoppage and first since 1995 began when the five-year collective bargaining agreement expired Dec. 1.

The players are calling for salary arbitration eligibility to be extended to those with two years of service, its level from 1974 to 1986, when it was raised to three years. In the expired deal, it was three years plus the top 22% in terms of player service time with at least two years but less than three years.

Last week, management agreed to the concept of a pool for pre-arbitration players, offering $10 million.

To address alleged service time manipulations, teams proposed that any player called up in August or September who remained eligible for Rookie of the Year the following season would count for additional amateur draft picks. The union said on Tuesday that it was ready to accept this concept, with modifications.

Extra service time would go to the top seven players in each position in each league on Fangraphs and Baseball Reference WAR average, except for starting pitchers, relief pitchers and outfielders, where it would be 20 in each category. The union has made the proposal to tackle what it claims are clubs that delay players’ debuts, such as in the case of Kris Byrant of the Chicago Cubs.

Players requested that the luxury tax threshold, designed to slow spending by high-income teams, be raised from $210 million to $245 million, and teams offered $214 million.

MLB has proposed raising the major league minimum wage from $570,700 to $615,000 for players with less than a year of big league service — but with a provision, teams couldn’t pay more than this amount – $650,000 for at least one year but less than two and $700,000 for at least two. The players offered a minimum of $775,000.

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