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MLB, Players Narrow Gap But Don’t Reach Deal

  • MLB and its players neared an agreement on Wednesday, but still couldn't break through on certain key issues.
  • The owners desire for an international draft emerged as a late sticking point.
Jayne Kamin-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks

MLB and its players association moved closer on key economic issues Wednesday — but still couldn’t reach a deal. 

MLB canceled a second week of games, pushing Opening Day back to April 14, after the players rejected the league’s latest offer. The league said players would not be paid for missed games.

Though the two sides appear nearly aligned on the financial factors dominating much of the negotiations, MLB’s desire for an international draft appears to be a roadblock.

  • The competitive-balance tax threshold — perhaps the greatest source of tension throughout the lockout — has nearly been settled, with both sides proposing an initial raise around $230 million from last year’s $210 million. 
  • The MLBPA proposed raises up to $250 million in 2026, with the owners rising up to $242 million.
  • MLB offered to raise the minimum player salary to $700,000 from $570,500, with increases to $770,000 over the next five years. The MLBPA is $10,000 higher on both sides.
  • The two sides are narrowing the gap on a new bonus pool for high-performing pre-arbitration players, with MLB proposing $40 million and the MLBPA $65 million.

International Draft

A new sticking point emerged over MLB’s strong desire for an international draft, which the players oppose.

The league pitched a novel draft pick system that would not be based on record, but would instead rotate on a four-year cycle. Unlike the regular draft, picks will be tradable. 

The draft will feature 20 rounds with 600 picks, with the highest slot bonus (a soft cap on how much a drafted player may earn by signing) starting at $5.5 million

The concept is reportedly a non-starter for Latino players.

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