JUPITER, Fla. — With just over three days until Major League Baseball’s deadline for a deal that would ensure a 162-game season, commissioner Rob Manfred joined the talks Friday as negotiators met again during a week with no sign of significant progress.
This was the fifth straight day the sides talked, and the first time Manfred was seen at a session.
Union head Tony Clark led a delegation of players into Roger Dean Stadium, the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. The group that included Max Scherzer, Andrew Miller and Zack Britton from the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee.
At one point, Manfred left the area where management was caucusing and spent 20 minutes with the players’ group in the Cardinals’ clubhouse beyond the right-field fence.
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.