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Elephant Rumblings: Lockout negotiations deepen as deadlines loom

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Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, Athletics Nation!

While we may not be out of the woods yet, things are progressing in negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA better than at any prior point in the lockout. The two sides have convened in Jupiter FL at Roger Dean Stadium, the usual spring home of the Marlins and Cardinals. Bargaining is set to happen daily throughout the week as a February 28 deadline that impacts Opening Day grows ever closer.

Expecting a deal on day one of what will likely be a full week of meetings would be foolhardy, but results have trended well when compared to the last two and a half months. First and probably most promisingly, the two sides met for an extended time. Whereas the February 17 session only lasted a scant fifteen minutes, Monday’s had an initial seventy minutes of discussion before a three hour break for each side to regroup. The rest of the time together was brief, but it left us with an idea of where things stand before negotiations continue today.

The big break for MLB to make, changes to the structure of Competitive Balance Tax, didn't happen today, but some strides were made to get closer to the MLBPA’s last proposal. The league added more to their offers of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, and offered another team to a potential draft lottery — though the pre-arb pool figure is still about $95M away from the Players Association’s ideal, and the players also want eight teams in the lottery rather than MLB’s proposed four teams. The league also dropped the previous asks of Minor League player reductions and lowering the amount of times players can be optioned.

The MLBPA will present their counter-proposal today, and hopefully steady progress will continue throughout the week. Will there be resolution on all matters this afternoon? Not likely. We can hope that players will be finally talking to teams again and scrambling to organize flights to FL and AZ by the end of the week.

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