MLB, players close to new labor agreement

MLB, players close to new labor agreement

MLB, players close to new labor agreement
MILWAUKEE -- Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are on the verge of signing off on a new Basic Agreement, sources within the sport said on Tuesday.

The expected five-year deal won't be announced at these business meetings of general managers and owners that will conclude on Thursday morning with a joint gathering of all the executives.

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources, declined comment on the negotiations on Tuesday.

Collective bargaining negotiations have been halted until after the meetings are concluded and are expected to resume no later than Friday. Manfred arrived in town on Tuesday afternoon so he could update the owners on the progress of the talks.

An agreement on all issues could still be reached before Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 24. The current deal, which was signed without any rancor in 2006, expires on Dec. 11, giving negotiators a little breathing room.

Manfred declined to comment when asked on Tuesday about the pace and substance of the negotiations.

The labor talks have progressed since January, and it was hoped that they would be concluded last month by the end of the World Series. But issues involving the annual First-Year Player Draft have kept negotiators at the table. The big breakthrough occurred this past weekend when both sides seemed to resolve the matter by agreeing to a restraint on bonuses and changes to free-agent Draft pick compensation.

A deal through 2016 is expected, giving MLB continued unfettered labor peace since the end of the strike that wiped out the final third of the 1994 regular season, that year's postseason and delayed the start of the '95 season for almost a month.

But peace didn't come easily. Until a deal was reached in New York as players waited on buses to go to ballparks right at the deadline in August 2002, every labor negotiation between the owners and players from the mid-1970s on included either a strike or a lockout.

In 2006, when Don Fehr was executive director of the union, negotiations began in June and the deal was done behind the scenes and announced in St. Louis during that year's World Series. Michael Weiner replaced Fehr in that role nearly two years ago, and though he has long been involved in baseball negotiations as one of the union's top legal counsels, this is his first as its chief.

This is the third such negotiations for Manfred, and when it finally results in a new contract, none of them will have included a work stoppage.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.