Report: MLB draft at center of labor talks

Updated: October 26, 2011, 10:05 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- While the NBA struggles with negotiations during its lockout, signing bonuses for amateur draft picks is the last major issue left in talks for baseball's new labor contract.

Representatives for players and owners met Tuesday in New York, people familiar with the session told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcements were authorized.

Commissioner Bud Selig wants a system of fixed signing bonuses that tie the amount to when a prospect is drafted, known as slotting. Players have traditionally said the signing bonuses should be the subject of negotiation.

While draft bonuses are the last big issue, those provisions are tied to other parts of the agreement, such as the luxury tax, the reserve system and the minimum salary, the people said.

Players and owners have come to an understanding on how to handle testing for human growth hormone, but not necessarily a definitive agreement, one of the people said.

The current agreement expires Dec. 11, and talks have proceeded throughout the year without the rancor that surrounded negotiations during the NFL and NBA lockouts.

Following eight work stoppages from 1972-95, baseball has had labor peace since the 7½-month strike in 1994-95 that canceled the World Series for the first time in nine decades. The sides agreed to a contract in August 2002, hours before the scheduled start of a strike, to conclude an agreement without a work stoppage for the first time since 1970. They struck a deal in 2006 on the day of World Series Game 3 in St. Louis, nearly two months before their agreement was to expire.

NFL players were locked out starting March 11 this year but signed a 10-year contract on Aug. 5, losing only one exhibition game to the work stoppage. NBA players have been locked out since July 1, and the first 100 games through Nov. 14 have been canceled.

The NHL's labor deal expires Sept. 15, 2012.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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