MLB, union bargain past midnight to salvage 162-game season
NEW YORK (AP) — Negotiators for locked-out players and Major League Baseball bargained past midnight for the second time in a week, and Commissioner Rob Manfred’s Tuesday deadline to reach a deal preserving a 162-game season passed with no announcement.
There was no word from Manfred of additional canceled games as the lockout entered its 98th day. The sides were exchanging numbers on the key economic issues of the luxury tax, the amount of a new bonus pool for pre-arbitration-eligible players and minimum salaries.
Union chief negotiator Bruce Meyer and general counsel Ian Penny headed a bargaining team that met in the morning at MLB’s office across the street from Radio City Music Hall.
About three hours later, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, Executive Vice President Morgan Sword and Senior Vice President Pat Houlihan made the three-block walk for a 20-minute visit to the union’s office overlooking Rockefeller Center that ended shortly before 2:30 p.m.
The sides continued speaking later in the day by telephone from their separate offices. In addition to exchanging numbers, MLB pushed for its long-held goal of an international amateur draft.
Yet, it remained unclear whether this more intensive phase of talks would lead to an agreement or yet another breakdown in oft-strained negotiations that have dragged on for nearly a year. As of 2 a.m., the union was still working on its response to management’s latest proposal, and staff was likely to work through the night.
About 16 1/2 hours of bargaining in Jupiter, Florida, that began Feb. 28 and ended at 2:30 a.m. the following morning produced progress but led only to an angry breakdown in talks the following afternoon, when Manfred announced the first two series for each team during the season had been canceled.
While it appears there is no chance opening day could take place as scheduled March 31, MLB told the union that Tuesday was the last possible day to reach an agreement that would allow a modified 162-game schedule, along with full salary and service time needed to reach free agency for players.
MLB on Tuesday offered a tax threshold starting at $230 million and rising to $242 million, a person familiar with the proposal said, confirming a move first reported by The Athletic. The person, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized, said management’s proposal contained tougher penalties at a higher payroll level than in the expired agreement.
The union began the week at $238 million for this year, rising to $263 million in 2026.
The union entered Monday asking for an $80 million bonus pool for this year and MLB was at $30 million. MLB offered a $700,000 minimum salary and the union asked for $725,000.
There were greater differences in the final four seasons of the proposed five-year deal. The union’s proposed figure for 2026 was $263 million at the start of the week.
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