MLB Lockout: Commissioner Rob Manfred joins labor talks for first time
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) – Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred entered long-stalled labor negotiations with players on Friday with just over three days until Major League Baseball’s deadline for a deal that would ensure a 162-game season as the MLB lockout continues.
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After four straight days of largely fruitless negotiating sessions that focused on exchanging proposals in areas of relative minutia, Manfred walked from the offices behind home plate at Roger Dean Stadium to the building in the right-field corner that includes the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse, which the players’ association has been using for its caucuses.
Manfred stayed for 20 minutes before returning to where management negotiators have caucused. About 40 minutes after that, an MLB delegation walked over to the players, a group that included Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, Colorado CEO Dick Monfort, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and Executive Vice President Morgan Sword. The group remained for 20 minutes.
Union head Tony Clark led a delegation of players into Roger Dean Stadium shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, a group that included Max Scherzer, Andew Miller and Zack Britton from the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee.
On the 86th day of baseball’s ninth work stoppage, its first since 1995, the sides remained far apart on many key economic issues: luxury tax thresholds and rates, the minimum salary and the size of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players.
The union offered a pair of new proposals Thursday, making small changes to its plan for a lottery to determine the first seven picks in the amateur draft and to its formula for top young players get credit for additional major league service. Teams say they will never agree to the additional service time, which could lead to earlier free agency.
The union wants to increase arbitration eligibility and to decrease revenue sharing, concepts management says it will never accept.
MLB maintains Monday is the last day to reach an agreement that would allow openers to take place as scheduled on March 31.
Players have not accepted Monday as a deadline and have suggested any missed games could be made up as part of doubleheaders, a method MLB said it will not agree to.
Once Monday passes, the length of the schedule would become yet another issue in the dispute along with possible lost pay and service time.
The union told MLB if games are missed and salaries are lost, clubs should not expect players to agree to management’s proposals to expand the postseason and to allow advertisements on uniforms and helmets.
Spring training workouts were to have started Feb. 16. Exhibition games were to have begin Saturday but already have been canceled through March 4.
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