Representatives from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association held an informal meeting Thursday to resume talks amid baseball’s work stoppage, multiple sources told ESPN.
MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and union attorney Bruce Meyer, the lead negotiators for both sides, were joined by league senior vice president Morgan Sword and MLBPA attorney Ian Penny, according to sources.
The meeting in New York lasted 90 minutes, sources said, and covered the core issues that led MLB to cancel the first week of regular-season games on Tuesday.
As of Thursday afternoon there was no indication when the sides planned to meet again. The MLBPA executive board was to hold a conference call later Thursday.
With owners and players unable to agree on a collective bargaining agreement to replace the previous agreement that expired Dec. 1, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred canceled the first two series for each of the 30 teams, cutting each club’s schedule from 162 games to probably 156 at most. A total of 91 games were deleted.
After nine days of talks in Florida, negotiators returned home Wednesday after negotiations broke down on Manfred’s Tuesday deadline for a deal to preserve Opening Day. It was unclear at the time when the parties would be found again.
Baseball’s ninth work stoppage reached its 92nd day Thursday and is the sport’s first labor dispute to cause game cancellations since the 1994-95 strike that eliminated the World Series for the first time in 90 years.
Pure numbers and other additional things are the cause of the dispute. Players have accused teams of pervasive service-time manipulation and are furious over the rise in the number of rebuilding MLB clubs, which the union calls “tanking,” or losing on purpose.
Issues like the size and format of the postseason have also become divisive, but the luxury tax may be the most difficult issue. MLB has proposed raising the tax threshold from $210 million to $220 million in each of the next three seasons, $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026.
A higher threshold would likely lead to more spending by big-market teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Manfred cited a “payroll disparity issue” on Tuesday and said a significantly higher tax threshold would “weaken the only mechanism in the deal that is designed to promote some semblance of competitive balance.”
Players are unhappy with how the tax system worked during the last labor contract, which included additional taxes to discourage high spending.
Jesse Rogers, Jeff Passan and Marly Rivera of ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Sources: MLB and Union resume dialogue amid lockout