Major League Baseball owners and players met for five hours in Jupiter, Florida on Monday, just five days before the scheduled start of spring training, in an effort to forge ahead in stalled labor negotiations and end the ongoing lockout. That's the good news, such as it is: Now that spring training has been officially delayed by at least a week, negotiations seem to have gotten a little bit more serious. The bad news is, the latest proposal from owners reportedly offered only small, incremental compromises, and according to multiple reports the sides remain far apart on the major economic issues that divide them.
According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, owners proposed adding $5 million to a new bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, and proposed adding another slot to a new lottery that would order the top of future player drafts. The bonus pool is handy for understanding both how far apart the sides remain and how slowly and reluctantly owners are giving up even an inch of turf. The pool was first proposed by players as a way of directing more money at guys on rookie contracts, who have to wait at least three years before they become arbitration eligible and six years before they qualify for free agency. The owners' latest proposal seems like it's really moving the needle on this, until you realize that the union wants this money distributed among 150 players, and the extra $5 million owners are offering brings their total offer to a not-whopping $20 million. Players are asking for $115 million.
Drellich also reported Monday that owners dropped a request that they be granted autonomy to reduce the size of minor league rosters. That, too, seems like players gaining ground, until you realize that this is owners walking back a request they made in the course of this cycle of labor negotiations, and is not progress made at overhauling the status quo. The big stuff—revenue sharing, minimum salaries, and the luxury tax—was not addressed Monday in any meaningful sense, according to Drellich and ESPN's Jesse Rogers. The sides are meeting again Tuesday, and are scheduled to hold sessions every day this week, but at the current rate of progress it would not appear that there's much chance of hitting MLB's stated deadline of February 28 for an on-time start to the upcoming regular season. That sucks!
Looking at baseball faces, just as an activity, is a very long way from watching the baseball guys do some dang baseballin'. But what else can we do? Perhaps scanning the baseball faces will dull the pain somewhat. It's worth a shot. The spread atop this blog has some serious hairdos, some even more serious beards, and expressions that cover the full spectrum of human emotion. There's a face for everyone up there. Find yours! I recognize just four of these men: a fun pitcher, a speedster, a former Oriole, and the best player in the world. Who do you recognize? Also, below is the key for the collection from back on Jan. 27. I for one was delighted to learn that there are players named Skye Bolt and Jay Flaa. Who knew?