Players Association makes major concession in negotiations with MLB

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(Audacy) For perhaps the first time since MLB owners locked the players out on Dec. 1, there appears to be evidence of progression in labor negotiations.

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During the first in-person meeting between the two sides since the lockout began, the Players Association on Monday took its proposal to allow players who don't reach six years of service time by a certain age to become free agents off the table, according to Evan Drellich of the Athletic.

"That means the amount of service time it takes a player to reach free agency — six years — is most likely going to remain unchanged whenever the sides reach a new deal," Drellich wrote. "The players had previously proposed a system to get some players to free agency after five years if they had reached a certain age: 30 1/2, and then eventually, 29 1/2."

Such a proposal could've potentially benefitted a player in the past like former Phillies star Ryan Howard, who wasn't eligible for free agency until after his age-31 season because it took him that long to accrue six years of service time. Many players who either debuted at a later age and/or were late bloomers have taken up-front paydays from their current teams rather than betting on themselves to land a more lucrative deal on the free-agent market in their early 30s.

The MLBPA seemingly made this concession in good faith, hoping that the league will now soften its stance on another point of contention. The two remaining major issues between the two sides now are revenue sharing and how quickly a young player can become arbitration eligible, Drellich reported.

Among the other issues that will also need to be resolved in the new collective bargaining agreement are what the luxury tax threshold will be and the future of rules such as the universal designated hitter, seven-inning doubleheaders and whether extra innings will continue to start with a runner on second base, as they have for the past two seasons.

Negotiations are set to continue Tuesday.

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