Feb 15, 2022 - Sports

MLB's Opening Day is in jeopardy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Pitchers and catchers were supposed to report to training camp Tuesday. Instead, they're at home as MLB's lockout reaches 76 days and counting.

Why it matters: Spring training likely won't start on time as collective bargaining agreement negotiations continue to move at a glacial pace, which means Opening Day (March 31) could be delayed.

Where it stands: MLB presented its latest counteroffer to the union on Saturday in Manhattan. It was the fifth time the two sides have discussed major economic hurdles during the lockout, and followed a flurry of activity this month.

Details: The league's proposal moved closer to what the players' union wants on three key issues, albeit only slightly.

  • CBT threshold: MLB slightly increased the competitive balance tax threshold (how much teams can spend before getting penalized), but significantly increased the penalties for teams that go over, which players view as a nonstarter because it disincentivizes spending.
  • Pre-arbitration bonus: The two sides have discussed a performance-based bonus pool to distribute to pre-arbitration players (one to three years service time). MLB upped its offer from $10 to $15 million, still well short of the $100 million players want.
  • Minimum salary: Players want $775,000; MLB's newest offer reaches only as high as $725,000 for third-year players (up from $700,000 in previous offer, and from $570,500 in previous CBA).

Yes, but: The league won't budge on two core issues — revenue sharing (teams split 48% of all local revenue evenly) and arbitration eligibility (three years service time).

What to watch: Given the need for roughly four weeks of spring training, the two sides must come to an agreement by the first couple days in March to ensure the season starts on time.

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