After being underwhelmed — though not insulted — by the league’s delayed proposal this past Saturday, the players union will present an updated proposal Thursday at 1pm ET. The meeting will take place in New York and may produce a little traction now that they’re two days past what should have been the report date for pitchers and catchers, though this will only be the sixth meeting between the two sides.
The lockout began nearly 80 days ago, more than half of which time was spent with the owners extricating their heads from their backsides as they waited to make an offer. Master financial analyst Rob Manfred commented recently that phones work both ways, though he neglected to acknowledge that one party proactively locking out the other puts the onus on that one party to make a call.
I’m not expecting much movement on Thursday, mainly because there’s still such disparity when it comes to the major issues of minimum salaries and the competitive balance tax. Despite what Jim Bowden will tell you between trips to the well to carry water for his former employers, the owners have done little to move to the players’ position. The union, on the other hand, has taken meaningful steps to either lower some of their asks or drop them completely.
The CBT issue is a sticky one because, while the league is amenable to raising the threshold slightly, the penalties for exceeding the soft cap would be harsher. That isn’t going to fly with players unless we’re looking at $240 million or more. Likewise, the bonus pool and minimum salaries for players in their first three years of service time will have to increase from what owners have offered so far.
The players will likely come down under $100 million for the bonus pool and they might even drop their CBT threshold, though a large gap will remain. If Manfred and the owners are serious about their belief that missing games would be disastrous — and I’m not sure they are at all — they’ll counter quickly with something at or beyond the midpoint of where the numbers sit after Thursday.
But if this session again lasts just an hour and owners remain unserious with their offers, well, we aren’t getting back to baseball this month.