JUPITER, Florida — Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred entered into long-stalled labor negotiations with the players Friday just over three days ahead of Major League Baseball’s deadline to reach a deal that includes 162 games.
After four consecutive days of largely fruitless negotiating sessions focused on exchanging proposals in areas of relative detail, Manfred walked from the offices behind the home board at Roger Dean Stadium to the building at the right-hand corner housing the St. for use in his caucuses.
Manfred stayed for 20 minutes before returning to where the administration’s negotiators had gathered. About 40 minutes later, the MLB delegation went to the players, a group that included Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner, Colorado CEO Dick Monfort, MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and MLB Executive Vice President Morgan Sword. The group remained for 20 minutes.
On the 88th day of baseball’s ninth hiatus, the first since 1995, the two sides remained apart on several key economic issues: luxury tax thresholds and rates, minimum salary and the size of the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players.
The league introduced a pair of new proposals on Thursday, with small changes to its lottery plan to determine the top seven selections in the amateur draft and to its formula for senior young players for credit for additional major league service. Teams say they will never agree to additional service time, which could lead to a previous free agency.
The union wants to increase arbitration eligibility and reduce revenue sharing, and Concept Management says it will never accept it.
The MLB maintains that Monday is the last day to reach an agreement that will allow the opening as scheduled on March 31.
Players did not accept Monday as a deadline and suggested that any missed games could be part of a double-headed game, a method the MLB said it would not agree with.
Once Monday passes, the length of the schedule will become another issue in dispute, along with the potential for loss of pay and service time.
The federation told MLB that if games are lost and salaries are lost, clubs should not expect players to agree to management’s proposals to expand the post-season period and allow advertising on uniforms and helmets.
Spring rehearsals were scheduled to begin on February 16. The exhibition games were scheduled to begin on Saturday but have already been canceled through March 4.