MLB labor talks to resume with virtual meeting Thursday

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(Audacy) For the past month, it’s been crickets on the MLB labor front with neither the owners nor the players showing much sense of urgency amid the sport’s first work stoppage in more than a quarter-century. But that’s about to change with a virtual sit-down scheduled for Thursday, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported, which will represent the first time MLB and its players union have engaged each other in any capacity since the start of the lockout on Dec. 2.

The meeting was initiated by ownership with MLB expected to present a “core economics proposal” during the bargaining session Thursday, ESPN reported. The longer the lockout drags on, the more likely the possibility of a truncated season becomes with the start of spring training in February potentially in jeopardy. Along with a transaction freeze, MLB scrapped the major league phase of its annual Rule 5 Draft in December, though the minor league portion went on as planned. MLB’s media properties have also been affected by the standoff, with team websites removing all references to current MLB players, including player headshots.

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Early sticking points in negotiations include lowering the luxury tax threshold from $210 million to $180 million (owners also proposed a $100-million spending floor), expanding the postseason from 10 to 14 teams, higher minimum salaries for players, no longer tying free-agent qualifying offers to draft-pick compensation, instituting a universal designated hitter and a draft lottery system that would discourage most teams from tanking.

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