MLB labor negotiators meet for 15 minutes

On what was supposed to be the second day of spring training, negotiations aimed at ending Major League Baseball’s lockout resumed Thursday at the office of the players’ association.

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Practice fields in Arizona remain empty as the MLB lockout continues.

Practice fields in Arizona remain empty as the MLB lockout continues.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

NEW YORK — On what was supposed to be the second day of spring training, negotiations aimed at ending Major League Baseball’s lockout resumed Thursday at the office of the players’ association.

The meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

A three-man MLB delegation led by Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem arrived shortly before 1 p.m. for just the sixth negotiating session on core economics since baseball’s ninth work stoppage began Dec. 2.

The union dropped its request to have all players with two years of major league service become eligible for salary arbitration and instead proposed expanding “super two” eligibility — the players with two to three years of major league service who are eligible — from 22% to 80%.

As part of the proposal, the union increased the proposed bonus pool for pre-arbitration players from $100 million to $115 million.

Clubs are at $15 million.

The union also expanded proposed eligibility for the bonus pool from 30 players to 150.

Players made proposals in six non-economic areas that included the Joint Drug Program, international play, and health and safety.

MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and head union negotiator Bruce Meyer held a 20-minute side conversation after the negotiating session, a one-on-one meeting that was described as unusually candid.

The union told MLB it was prepared to meet every day next week.

Baseball’s first stoppage since 1995 was in its 78th day. There is little chance exhibition games will start as scheduled on Feb. 26, and opening day on March 31 will soon be threatened. Given the need for 21-28 days of training and additional time to report and go through COVID-19 protocols, an agreement by the end of February or early March is needed for an on-time start.

Players and owners remain far apart on luxury tax thresholds and rate. They have major differences on revenue-sharing and how to address players’ allegations of service time manipulation.

MLB said it remains opposed to any increase in salary arbitration eligibility or reduction in revenue sharing.

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