Gregor Chisholm: MLB owners and players are in no hurry to give fans what they want

Spring training should be approximately one month away, but Major League Baseball’s owners don’t appear to be feeling any sense of urgency about making sure everything starts on time.

That was the big takeaway from the latest bargaining session between the league and representatives from the MLB Players’ Association. After waiting six weeks to respond to the players’ last proposal for a new collective agreement, the owners offered up little more than cosmetic changes to what had been previously discussed.

According to multiple reports, commissioner Rob Manfred’s negotiating team declined to make any concessions on the big-ticket items. Their offer for the competitive tax balance threshold, which most teams treat as a salary cap, held steady at $214 million (U.S.). They also ignored requests for players to reach free agency before six years’ service.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the core of MLB’s proposal instead centred on funneling additional money to players with two years’ experience, awarding draft picks to some teams for not manipulating the service time of their top prospects, and making minor tweaks to a previously suggested draft lottery system.

Those changes accompanied a modest increase of about $25,000 to the minimum salary and the adoption of a universal designated hitter. MLB also renewed its efforts to introduce a 14-team post-season format, while backtracking on a previous proposal to eliminate salary arbitration for players with four to six years of service in favour of a bonus pool system.…

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