The implementation of an international draft was at the center of Wednesday’s discussions, with MLB trying to leverage it in exchange for the removal of the qualifying offer process. The players union had previously considered such a draft to be a non-starter and the removal of the QO had already been discussed in exchange for other concessions, but this process has seen the league sneaking in new elements at the last second.
After each side had separately proposed moving the draft conversation back until after the season, timing and egos may have played a role in the league turning the idea down and canceling more games Wednesday. The two sides got back together Thursday, however, and have agreed to keep this particular topic open until July 25.
MLB, MLBPA agree to negotiate on international draft until July 25. Draft pick compensation will be removed if they agree by then to remove it. Status quo on international entry and draft compensation if no deal by then. The union says it is awaiting a counterproposal from MLB.
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 10, 2022
If a deal is reached, the QO will vanish and the draft will begin in 2024. In the event that nothing can be worked out, both international free agency and draft pick compensation for free agents will remain the same as they have been.
MLB is expected to present a comprehensive counterproposal Thursday, which could be enough to get a deal done if the league moves just a little closer to the players’ position. The two sides have gotten very close on the competitive balance tax thresholds and could close that gap, leaving just the pre-arb bonus pool as the big sticking point.
In the event that an agreement is reached, free agency could open as soon as Thursday night. While there should not have been any conversations taking place since the lockout began on December 2, you can bet there will be some very rapid movement as old discussions are picked back up. Players will have a few days to get to camps, which could open by early next week.
It’s probably wise to remain guarded after all we’ve heard over the last few weeks, but this feels like a significant development.