Just when everybody thought MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred would announce the delay in the start of spring training today, he surprised more than a few people and said the league will present a new offer to the Players Association on Saturday.
Latest from Rob Manfred:
• No status change in spring training
• Believes season will start on time
• Universal DH is happening
• Draft pick compensation eliminated
• Both sides will meet Saturday pic.twitter.com/75tCMiXS5r
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) February 10, 2022
The information was made public on Wednesday night and was confirmed by Mandred on Thursday after an owners’ meeting.
While spring training being pushed back is certainly a probable scenario at this point, no such announcement will come before Saturday.
“The status of spring training is no change right now,” Manfred said, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
A ‘Competitive Offer’ Is Allegedly Coming
Instead, MLB says it will make a competitive offer to players.
The proposal, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, is expected to involve “core economic issues, and hope remains that it could trigger something to get a deal done on time for the regular season to begin as scheduled, or close.”
MLB is planning to make a new proposal following the owners meeting which ends tomorrow. It is expected to involve core economic issues, and hope remains that it could trigger something to get a deal done on time for the regular season to begin as scheduled, or close.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 10, 2022
Manfred stated that “we’re going to make a good-faith” proposal on Saturday, a “good proposal.”
Manfred: "We're going to make a good-faith" proposal on Saturday. "It's a good proposal."
— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) February 10, 2022
His words can be interpreted as if the league really hasn’t been negotiating in good faith up until this point, as if he was implicitly admitting that previous offers weren’t really competitive.
Saturday, therefore, appears to be a crucial day for collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations.
If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: the owners have the power to compromise on Saturday.
They have the power to take talks from stalled to promising, and hopefully get closer to a deal.
A deal may not come Saturday, but the talks need to get over the hill.
That will only happen if MLB is willing to significantly raise the minimum salary and the bonus pool to compensate those players between zero and three years of service time who earn it via WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
The competitive balance tax (CBT, also known as the luxury tax) will also be a hot point of discussion in future meetings, as the union would like to see it increased significantly so teams don’t have to maneuver around it with low-cost deals so much.
Other things, such as regulations against tanking and service time manipulations, remain obstacles in talks.
Universal DH Is Officially A Go
In his media appearance on Thursday, Manfred confirmed that owners have agreed to a universal designated hitter and eliminated draft pick compensation attached to free agents.
It’s official now: no more pitchers hitting in the National League, as teams will have more lineup flexibility with the designated hitter.
The other piece of news on that statement, however, is a huge deal.
Universal DH is getting all of the attention but eliminating draft pick compensation for signing free agents who decline a qualifying offer is a really big deal. https://t.co/P0XK3EZTzg
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) February 10, 2022
The market for free agents with draft pick compensation attached to them was affected in many cases because teams, naturally, didn’t want to surrender part of their future.
The weekend, therefore, will now be a turning point in CBA negotiations.
After Saturday, we will likely know if the two sides are close enough that they can overcome their differences in a matter of a couple of weeks, or if MLB is lying again and there is no “competitive offer”, as they say.
The future of spring training is at stake.
All we know is that owners have the power to end things and negotiate in good faith, with the genuine intention of agreeing to a new deal and starting the season.
Let the speculation begin.