Major League Baseball canceled the second week of the regular season Wednesday after days of discussion with the MLB Players Association failed to generate a new collective-bargaining agreement.
While the international draft has been a part of negotiations for a long time, but was not until recently a key issue, talks were halted Wednesday afternoon. The league had suggested tying an International Draft that would include amateurs from Latin America, Asia, and the removal of direct draft-pick Compensation. This is because draft picks are penalized for signing top-free agents.
The idea was rejected by players who sent counteroffers and rejected suggestions from the league. Another week of games was canceled by the league.
The consequences could be devastating. This week, the league agreed to play a 162-game schedule that included full pay and full player service. The MLBPA stated that it would remove expanded playoffs, which are key elements of a new MLB basic agreement, from the proposal if the league refused to pay full salary and service time. Given the fact that the sides have not been able to reach an agreement on core economic issues, the possibility of the league removing a vital benefit and an additional item to negotiate for the union — full time service — would only add to the already-tense discussions.
Sources said that the already-problematic situation of MLB's lockout deteriorated on the 98th day.
Talks about the international draft continued from Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon, before picking up again Wednesday morning. Even though financial gaps were close enough to allow for a deal, international draft was rejected by players. It is opposed by a large portion of Latin American rank-and-file, and players' leadership, according to sources, was furious at its late introduction as a key issue in the league.
Sources said that MLB presented three options to players on Wednesday afternoon and stated it would not negotiate any other issues unless the union chooses one of these paths.
** Study an international draft, and if it is not accepted by the union by Nov. 15, 2022, reopen the entire collective-bargaining agreement after the 2024 season; additionally, remove direct draft-pick compensation
** Take the international draft out of the deal — and maintain direct draft-pick compensation
** Implement the international draft in 2024 in exchange for the removal of direct draft-pick compensation
The union declined the offers. Sources say that they asked for the immediate removal of draft-pick compensatory in 2022 so the parties could study the draft. The union proposed that the current international system be retained and that draft-pick compensation return after the offseason of 2022-23.
Failure to reach a settlement Wednesday could have serious consequences if both parties don't engage in a re-engagement and make a deal quickly. Players who reach salary arbitration at the end of three years of service in major leagues and six months free agency after six years are subject to service-time considerations. A player receives a full year's service if he or she spends 172 days on a major-league roster. The season is usually 186 days long. If there are more than two weeks, players would have to recoup their service time.
If the sides had reached a deal Wednesday afternoon, the longest work stoppage in baseball's history would have been over and normalcy would have returned to the game after months of difficult negotiations. As the game tries to find its footing with a growing fan base, baseball is in its most difficult yet.
Before the league tied the international draft to directly draft-pick compensation on Tuesday (and before that, baseball's core economy had been at the forefront of labor negotiations). Other than the CBT, and the penalties that are imposed on teams who exceed it, important items include the minimum salary for players with less three years of major league experience and a bonus pool that is worth tens or millions and which will be distributed to younger players who have not reached arbitration.
MLB has advocated for the expansion to the postseason beyond 10 teams. Both sides had indicated a willingness and preference for a 12-team version. However, the league preferred 14. As part of its package deal, the union has allowed player uniforms to feature advertising, including patches on jerseys or decals on bat helmets.
Some other aspects of a deal include:
** A 45-day window for MLB to implement rules changes — among them a pitch clock, ban on defensive shifts and larger bases in the 2023 season
** The National League adopting the designated hitter
** A six-team draft lottery implemented with the intent of discouraging tanking
** Draft-pick inducements to discourage service-time manipulation
** Limiting the number of times a player can be optioned to the minor leagues in one season to five
The MLB's long-awaited international draft would be held in 2024. The league would organize teams into pods of seven to eight and rotate draft positions so that each team could have access once every four years to the best amateur talent. According to the league, the draft system would provide more money for international talent that the current system. In which international amateurs can sign with any club and are not considered agents, the draft system would be more lucrative.
Players are currently eligible to join an organization at 16 years of age, but teams frequently enter into multimillion-dollar deals with children as young and as old as 12. MLB believes a draft will curb the corruption that is rife in the international market, with early signings, financial kickbacks and trainers giving performance-enhancing drugs to teenage boys among the foremost issues.
The talks on a new base agreement started last year. They progressed slowly until the Dec. 1 expiration. Manfred shut down the players on December 2nd, after little progress between the union and the league. There was a 43-day gap between negotiations. By the time spring training opened in mid-February, the financial gulfs between the two parties were so large that there was a greater chance of losing regular-season matches.
Manfred's decision not to cancel Opening Day last week upset players. They were unhappy after a 2016 negotiations that resulted in severe economic consequences. Despite growing revenues of $10.7 billion in 2019, player salaries have declined over the last four seasons. Players found it a rallying call in the significant increase in franchise values, which has almost quadrupled since the previous two basic agreements.
The league is content with the current economic system and has not reacted to the huge gains that players had hoped for. The game's uncapped system allows teams and players to spend less on older players in order to offset the increased costs.