Representatives from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met virtually Tuesday for their first negotiating session on a new collective bargaining agreement, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
While the current CBA doesn’t expire until December 1, the talks could become as contentious as any in recent memory. That’s mostly due to what Passan called “unprecedented economic success,” which has yet to trickle down to players.
Payrolls have dropped in each of the last three seasons despite some of the game’s elite talent commanding $300 million-plus contracts.
“An overhaul of baseball’s core economic system is highly unlikely, sources said, citing the limited amount of time to strike a deal and keep labor peace uninterrupted since 1995. The union nevertheless intends to target spending and competitive integrity — particularly the promotion of competition by all teams — among its priorities with a new deal. Players are also in favor of funneling money to players earlier in their careers, the potential for free agency before six years of service and a solution to — or at least remedy of — service-time manipulation.”
In turn, the league will likely look to increase the playoff field, add a universal designated hitter and explore ways to increase the pace of gameplay.
And those are likely to be just the starting points.
Neither the league nor union provided comment on Tuesday’s talks to ESPN.
Passan reported the call included dozens of attendees, including the union’s player leadership—which features Andrew Miller, Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor and Marcus Semien, among others.
The last time MLB and the union attempted to strike a deal was in the summer as the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the season. After failing to reach an agreement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred used his authority to build out a 60-game season with a universal DH, runner on second base to begin extra innings and seven-inning doubleheaders.