Labor topics the priority for Owners Meetings

CBA, increasing off-days expected to dominate discussions

Labor topics the priority for Owners Meetings

The Owners Meetings will be held this week in Houston, with the status of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement expected to be at the forefront of both the formal and informal discussions.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has consistently expressed optimism that a new accord can be reached that will extend Major League Baseball's unprecedented streak of labor peace, an era that has helped fuel explosive revenue growth that has benefited management and players. The sport hasn't experienced a work stoppage in baseball since the strike of 1994-95.

There are, however, issues that need to be resolved.

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, believes increasing the number of days off will result in a higher quality of play and star players being in the lineup more frequently.

Manfred has been more than willing to at least consider a number of steps, including reducing the regular season from 162 to 154 games, but he has also warned that there are resulting economic consequences that must be considered.

"There are ways to produce more off-days in the schedule,'' Manfred said during the All-Star Game last month in San Diego. "Some of those have very significant economic ramifications that … are going to have to be shared by all the relevant parties."

One compromise reportedly could be to increase the roster size from the current 25.

There is also disagreement over an international draft, which MLB favors and the union opposes.

The quarterly session begins Wednesday morning with regularly scheduled committee meetings, and it will end after the general session Thursday morning.

Another item on the agenda is to vote on the ownership transfer of the Mariners. Nintendo is selling its majority stake to a group headed by minority owner John Stanton.

Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.