Major League Baseball had set February 28 as the drop-dead deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.  After that date, MLB said, they would be forced to start the season late.  The calendar has turned to March 1, but after a long day of negotiating, the sides have agreed on a short extension.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today was among those who reported that the new deadline will be 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Nightengale has been camped out in Jupiter, Florida, where the negotiations are taking place.   Jupiter is the Spring Training home to the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.  Here is what Nightengale reports is the current status of negotiations:

  • The two sides have agreed on a 12-team postseason.  MLB had been pushing for a 14-team playoff.
  • Minimum MLB player salaries remain a point of debate.
  • The numbers for the Competitive Balance Tax - commonly called the "Luxury Tax" - are in dispute between the two sides.  Jon Heyman of MLB Network calls this a "significant gap"
  • The point at which a player becomes eligible for arbitration appears to be settled.

Negotiations wrapped up about 3:00 a.m. and are expected to resume in the morning.

Spring Training games will not occur any sooner than March 8.  That would give teams a week to report to prepare.  Some players, such as Bryce Harper, are in Clearwater waiting for the word to report.  Others may take longer to do so, as they are international players who may not have had the means to put themselves up in a place to stay.

The Phillies and the other 29 teams will also have to finish building their rosters.  The Phillies added reliever Corey Knebel and infielder Johan Camargo before the lockout, but have much work to do.  Expect a near-immediate flurry of signings and trades upon a deal being completed.

The deal is not complete, but the two sides are closest than they have been yet.  Stay tuned.

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