NEW YORK – Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred canceled another 93 games Wednesday, seemingly shutting out the remaining opportunity to play the full 162-game schedule and threatening players with losing their pay and tenure.
After the two sides narrowed several financial differences and stumbled over the administration’s bid for an international amateur draft, the MLB announced that two additional series through April 13 had been canceled. This brought the number of games removed from the calendar to 184, 7.6% of the 2,430 games making up the season.
“In a last-ditch effort to preserve the 162-game season, we have made good faith proposals this week that address the specific concerns expressed by the MLBPA and will allow players to return to the field immediately,” Manfred said in a statement. “Due to the logistical facts of the schedule, two more series of the schedule have been cut, which means the opening day has been postponed to April 14.”
Disagreements between the two parties were reduced with the recent counter-offering of the union. Earlier in the day, the administration gave the federation a new option that would allow the deal to be halted after the 2024 season, leading to further negotiations between management and players who view each other lightly.
While the gaps were narrowed on the three most controversial economic items under discussion, the administration pushed for its long-running goal of an international amateur project. Players have repeatedly rejected the proposal since it was submitted on July 28.
MLB has said it will not introduce a new counteroffer to players unless the association first chooses one of three options: accepting the international draft in exchange for eliminating direct amateur compensation for eligible free agents; Retain compensation in exchange for MLB abandoning the draft international proposal; Or cancel the compensation, giving players until November 15 to accept an international draft starting in 2024 and giving MLB the right to reopen their employment contract after the 2024 season if players do not accept the draft.
On the 98th day of baseball’s first layoff since 1995, the last alternative was leaving open the possibility of another labor dispute in less than three years.
MLB told the union that Tuesday was the last possible day to reach an agreement that would allow for a revised 162-game schedule, along with the full salary and service time needed to access players’ free agency.
“The clubs have done everything in their power to meet the fundamental demands of the MLBPA,” Manfred said. “On the major economic issues that posed obstacles, the clubs suggested ways to bridge the gaps to maintain a full schedule. Unfortunately, after our second nightly negotiating session in a week, we are still out of agreement.”
Gamers lowered their luxury tax threshold to $232 million this year, with increases to $235 million in 2023, $240 million in 2024, $245 million in 2025 and $250 million in 2026.
Players were between $238 million and $263 million on their previous run from the previous week. It was within 2.5% of the administration’s initial $230 million figure in Tuesday’s proposal. Players were within 3.2% of MLB’s $242 million for 2026.
Management’s desire for an additional fourth tax threshold of $60 million above the first threshold is among the remaining sticking points.
Players dropped to $65 million from a proposed $80 million pool bonus for eligible players before arbitration, a day after MLB increased its offer from $30 million to $40 million. The union asks for annual increases of $5 million, while the management offer is the same for all five years.
The union lowered the proposed minimum wage to $710,000 from $725,000, a number set to rise to $780,000 by 2026. Management is $700,000 this year, rising to $770,000. The union’s proposals for a tax threshold and bonus fund were first reported by The Athletic.
After the parties bargained on and off for 16 and a half hours until 3 a.m. Wednesday, the federation held a morning phone call with its executive board.
The union’s chief negotiator, Bruce Meyer, and general counsel, Ian Penny, walked three blocks through a wintry mix of rain and snow to deliver the proposal to the MLB office and returned to union headquarters shortly thereafter.
In the proposed international draft, teams would take turns choosing from among different first-round quarters over a four-year period. A scheduling system similar to the one that the union agreed to start in 2012 will be installed for the amateur project covering residents of the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
The draft international proposal includes time periods that cannot be negotiated by individuals. MLB estimates $17 million in additional spending for drafted international players on top of the $166.3 million that 30 teams spent in 2021, plus an additional $6 million for drafted players. The draft will begin in 2024.
International players will lose the right to choose which team they sign with. Enlistment age is the year a player turns 16.
Tuesday’s deadline is the third set by the MLB in the past two weeks.
Manfred originally set a February 28 deadline to keep the March 31 opening day. After 16-and-a-half hours of negotiations in Jupiter, Florida, which began on February 28 and ended at 2:30 a.m. the next day, progress had been made, Manfred extended the deadline to 5 p.m. the next day.
Talks broke down, and Manfred announced that the first two series of the season for each team had been cancelled. The negotiators returned to New York and resumed negotiations on Sunday.
“Analyst. Web buff. Wannabe beer trailblazer. Certified music expert. Zombie lover. Explorer. Pop culture fanatic.”