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Talks yield little progress in baseball’s economic impasse

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Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions during an MLB owner’s meeting at the Waldorf Astoria on Thursday. AFP

Talks yield little progress in baseball’s economic impasse

A brief meeting between Major League Baseball officials and players union representatives on Saturday did little to allay fears the 2022 season could be delayed over economic issues.

Neither side offered concrete comments after a meeting lasting about an hour, but multiple media outlets reported that negotiators for the players were “unimpressed” by the latest proposal put forward by MLB.

USA Today was among the outlets reporting that MLB tweaked their proposals on several issues, including the minimum salary for players with less than one year of major-league service.

That was $570,000 in 2021 and MLB proposed raising it to $615,000, with a minimum of $650,000 for players with at least one year of service and $725,000 for players with at least two years of service but not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

Or, MLB proposed, there could be a flat-rate minimum salary of $630,000 – still some way from the $775,000 minimum salary that the union had sought.

MLB also proposed increasing the luxury tax threshold by $2 million starting at $214 million for the first two years and rising to $216 million in 2024 and to $218 million in 2025.

Teams that spend on payroll beyond the threshold would also be subject to lesser penalties – which could tempt them to spend more on player salaries – but the union had proposed a luxury tax threshold of $245 million.

While there were other proposals that would increase the money available for younger players, both USA Today and ESPN reported that MLB offered no change on revenue sharing among clubs.

The union has sought a $30 million reduction in revenue sharing.

The meeting was just the fifth between the parties since owners locked out players on December 2 after the old collective bargaining agreement expired.

The lockout was billed as a device to focus attention on – and speed – negotiations.

But with team training camps set to open this week and the first pre-season games scheduled for February 26, a delay to Spring Training – with a knock-on delay to the scheduled March 31 start of the season – was looking more and more likely.

Saturday’s meeting came days after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he believed a deal wold be reached “in time to play our regular schedule.”

“I see missing games as a disastrous outcome for this industry and we’re committed to making an agreement in an effort to avoid that,” Manfred said on Thursday.

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