Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are getting a head start on labor talks.
Commissioner Rob Manfred and deputy commissioner for baseball administration Dan Halem met with union head Tony Clark and senior director of collective bargaining Bruce Meyer on Monday, according to Tyler Kepner of The New York Times.
The parties met only to discuss logistics for negotiations, officials told Kepner. But the gathering shows a sense of urgency to resolve players' issues with a slow-moving free-agent market and the notion that too many teams are not spending to win, he notes.
"We're past the trend," Clark said in a recent interview. "This is how it's going to look moving forward.
"In acknowledging and recognizing that, you appreciate that the system - and what I'll call the grand bargain that was in place going back 40-plus years - is no longer reflective of the realities of today. As a result, the system doesn't work."
The union also takes issue with a compensation structure that currently underpays young players, a sentiment Halem acknowledged.
"We do have a higher percentage of our revenue going to younger players through the arbitration process," he said. "That number has increased consistently every year since I've been in the job, and that's due to the fact that we have a lot of very good younger players. Also, we saw this year with respect to free agency, the money is being concentrated at the very top, with super-elite free agents doing very well.
"What you see going on here is really a distribution issue, how the players want salary distributed. How salary is distributed among our teams is an issue that systems can be designed to address."
The current collective agreement expires at the end of 2021.