Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met for the fifth straight day of haggling Friday in Jupiter, Florida, and although the two sides remain far apart on a number of issues, there were signs of progress.
According to the league’s source, the two sides have gone back and forth over the draft lottery, advancing to the point where the issue may be settled and agreed upon as soon as Saturday.
“Today we tried to focus on closing a case to gain some momentum,” the source said. “We’ve heard players’ concerns about competitiveness. Back in November, we offered to change the draft order for the first time in baseball’s long history. We’ve made revisions along the way.
“We made a compromise this morning that we thought was a fair deal for players and clubs and we worked on it all day to try and create momentum to resolve the remaining issues over the rest of the weekend. With what we’ve put in, we’ll go from no lottery at all to the most aggressive lottery in any sport.”
While the draft lottery is just one part of a much larger negotiation, the fact that the two sides appear to be heading toward a compromise will likely set the stage for a productive weekend.
Commissioner Rob Manfred joined the talks for the first time on Friday, meeting with MLBPA CEO Tony Clark. An MLB source described the seating as a “good conversation” as the two discussed how to move the process forward.
The MLB has set a Monday deadline for a deal to open the regular season as scheduled on March 31, leaving the league and the players’ association three more days to reach a deal. Players will not be paid for games that are not played if the deadline is not met.
Earlier this month, Manfred said that based on injury data and experience of the short 2020 pandemic season, spring training should be at least four weeks long so that players can properly prepare for the season.
Among the expensive items that still have to be worked out in order to get a deal done for a new collective bargaining agreement is the competitive balance tax, Super 2 Eligibility, manipulation of service time, pre-arbitration bonus, and minimum salary.
The league’s current proposals include more than $250 million in additional compensation to players before arbitration over the course of the agreement.
An earlier decision had matches up to March 4, and an MLB spokesperson told reporters on Friday afternoon that games from March 5-7 will not be played.
An MLB spokesperson said: “All 30 clubs remain united in their strong desire to get players back on the field and fans back in the stands.
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