Locked-out players made a counter-proposal on multiple issues to Major League Baseball on Saturday, as an end-of-Monday deadline approached for a labor deal to salvage opening day and a 162-game schedule.
After holding just six negotiating sessions from the start of the lockout through 19 February, the sides met for a sixth straight day at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, the vacant spring training home of the Miami Marlins and St Louis Cardinals.
The New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Francisco Lindor, New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole and free agent reliever Andrew Miller were among players at the talks.
Baseball’s ninth work stoppage, it first since 1995, was in its 87th day. The sides arrived at noon, an hour earlier than every previous session this year, then met for nearly two and a half hours. The union held a Zoom session for its player representatives.
A management delegation then walked over to the union group in the building that includes the Cardinals clubhouse and the union delivered its counter-offer. Fifteen minutes later, the MLB group returned to offices in the main part of the ballpark.
Details on the counterproposal were not immediately available. After more meetings, management returned to the union at about 4.30pm. They met for about 30 more minutes before calling it a day.
MLB has said that if there is not an agreement by the end of Monday, it will start canceling games because there will not be enough training time to play a full schedule.
The sides neared agreement on Friday on an amateur draft lottery, during negotiations that included a surprise one-on-one meeting between the commissioner, Rob Manfred, and the union head, Tony Clark.
The sides remained far apart on the big-money issues of the competitive balance tax thresholds and rates, salary arbitration eligibility, the size of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration-eligible players and minimum salary. Players also want to reduce revenue sharing.
Players have not accepted Monday as a deadline and have suggested any missed games could be made up with double-headers, a method MLB said it will not agree to.
Once Monday passes, the length of the schedule would become yet another issue in the dispute along with possible lost pay and service time.
The union has told MLB if games are missed and salaries are lost, clubs should not expect players to agree to management’s proposals to expand the postseason and to allow advertisements on uniforms and helmets.