IRVING, Texas – A Major League Baseball player shutdown appeared imminent after discussions between the league and the league halted negotiations Wednesday afternoon, less than 12 hours before the game’s collective bargaining agreement expired.
In what will likely be the last talks between the two parties before the expected shutdown of league players Thursday, leaders of both sides met for seven minutes at the Four Seasons Dallas in Las Colinas. When the meeting ended, league officials left the hotel and the players were told that the day’s talks were over.
It was an embarrassing end to three days of negotiations that yielded no progress after months of talks that did the same. While there was hope that face-to-face meetings would lead to some movement, neither proposal gained traction.
Some players left the hotel with their luggage, and succumbed to the implementation of the lockdown, an administrative tool that prevents employees from coming to work. If the league enforces the shutdown as expected, it will be the ninth stoppage of work in MLB history and the first since the 1994-95 strike.
During the lockdown, free agency trades and major league players are not allowed. The freeze will come on the heels of one of the busiest periods in MLB free agency history, with teams securing more than $1.6 billion in players so far this winter.
The chasm between the two centers on the basic economy of the game. The union’s proposal this week included expanding the playoffs to 12 teams and the possibility to upgrade the uniform. Players remain steadfast in their desire to remove artificial restrictions on free agency, get players paid better at younger ages, fix transmission time tampering, and narrow down titles.
Ahead of meetings, the league proposed 14 post-season teams in a package that included an increase in the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold from $210 million to $214 million, with growth that would increase to $220 million. The union’s proposal included reducing its previous application for CBT from $248 million to $245 million.
In the seven-minute session, the league rejected the league’s proposal to remove some issues, including any changes to the six-year reserve before a player could access free agency, from discussions.
When it was over, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halim and Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort, who had led the league’s negotiations, left with no plans to return.