JUPITER — With less than 4-1/2 days until Major League Baseball’s deadline for a labor deal to salvage opening day and a 162-game season, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, Houston pitcher Lance McCullers and Miami infielder Miguel Rojas joined negotiations Thursday.
The sides met for the fourth straight day at Roger Dean Stadium, the idle spring training home of the Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals. The union made proposals in two small areas, narrowing the number of young players who could earn additional major league service for accomplishments and loosening the union’s proposed restrictions on high amateur draft picks in consecutive years. The latter would be an attempt to assist lower revenue teams.
They scheduled another day of talks on Friday.
Players who remained from earlier in the week included the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, the Mets’ Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor, the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, the Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ, the Brewers’ Brent Suter and free agent Andrew Miller.
Players gathered in the first base parking lot with union head Tony Clark, chief negotiator Bruce Meyer and staff before entering the ballpark just before 1 p.m. Steinbrenner, Colorado Rockies CEO Dick Monfort, and San Diego Padres vice chairman Ron Fowler were part of a management delegation that appeared to meet with the union for about 30 minutes before returning to MLB’s meeting room.
MLB told the union that it will cancel regular-season games if a contract is not agreed to by the end of Monday, then made its stance public Wednesday.
Players have not accepted Monday as a deadline and have suggested any missed games could be made up as part of doubleheaders, a method MLB said it will not agree to.
The union told MLB if games are missed and salaries are lost, clubs should not expect players to agree to management’s proposals to expand the postseason and to allow advertisements on uniforms and helmets.
Baseball’s ninth work stoppage was in its 85th day, and the sessions this week increased the total on core economic issues to just 10 since the lockout began Dec. 2.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Feb. 10 that a minimum of four weeks of training are needed before starting the season. A deal by Monday would allow that plus a few days for players to report to camps in Arizona and Florida.
Players and teams remain far apart on luxury tax thresholds, salary arbitration eligibility, revenue sharing and the size of a pool of money that would go to pre-arbitration players.
By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer
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