Where are the MLB and MLBPA Negotiations Today?


Don't hold your breath for good news.

Don’t hold your breath for good news.

The latest episode of the soap opera that is the MLB lockout featured a five-hour meeting between the players and owners to discuss a collective bargaining agreement for the upcoming season. The two parties have been at each other’s throats since the lockout began on December 2 last year.

While both sides seem to believe that they have reached a compromise on certain issues, there is still a lot to be ironed out. Yesterday’s meeting was the longest the two groups have had since the lockout began, with many speculating that a meeting of such magnitude could only bode well for baseball’s immediate future. They turned out to be right. The owners announced that they had withdrawn some of the proposals they had offered in recent months.

MLB no longer wants to limit the number of minor leaguers in each team’s system. And it also withdrew its offer to limit the number of times a player can get an option to five. Those are good signs, but hold on. Neither was anything last season. So essentially everything MLB has done is go back to square one.

Since the lockout started, and both the players and owners agreed that the previous CBA needed improvement, it may sound like a step forward given what we’ve heard since the lockout started. But it’s almost like taking a step back – back to early December. For a league that’s supposed to be in Florida and Arizona by now and that’s slated to start in just over a month, that doesn’t seem like a very positive move.

However, there is a positive spin to all of this. It shows that the owners are willing to backtrack on some of their proposals from earlier. If they’ve met some of their demands from the players, who’s to say the players can’t do the same? However, that’s where things get dark. It is likely that the owners were always willing to form a collective agreement under similar pretexts as in the previous collective agreement. The proposals they offered were probably just negotiation techniques to make the old SCBA more attractive. It’s a bargaining tactic where you shoot the scandalous to get the other side of the table to agree to something much less, something that now seems more reasonable, something you actually want. Basically, if you want your friend’s fries, don’t ask for them, ask for the whole basket. If they say no, ask for a single tray. They’ll think, “Well, at least it’s not the whole thing, and they’re more likely to give it to you.”

The owners probably played a similar card. Since most of the outrageous proposals MLB has made during this lockout in recent weeks have come in the past few weeks, that just makes it more likely in my view. The owners probably hope that withdrawing some of those proposals will give the MLBPA greater acceptance of some of the minor changes the owners have proposed, and perhaps the players will be willing to backtrack on some of their bigger proposals. However, that didn’t seem to work.

All the news coming out of these meetings has suggested that while the owners are constantly willing to compromise on their proposals, the players are sticking to what they want. I don’t blame the players for standing up for what they believe and wanting to be treated with the respect they deserve, just to point out that we are probably miles away from an agreement until more news of a compromise comes out.

Obviously, I’m not in the meetings, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on. The players’ union has claimed that Tuesday’s meeting “productive† However, it was clear that little progress had been made, and today’s meeting came and went without a single beep or any progress. If that’s what we consider a success today, then we still have a long, daunting road ahead of us.

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