Negotiators for baseball's owners and players narrowed differences on the minimum salary and benefit plan Wednesday while leaving their respective analysts to work over revised numbers on the central issue of revenue sharing.
"Sometimes, you get to a point on one subject where the numbers are so complicated that you have to leave it to people who aren't at the table to analyze and move on to another topic to keep your momentum going," Rob Manfred, baseball's lead lawyer, said in explaining why Wednesday's negotiations were spent on the benefit plan and minimum salary.
The owners had initially proposed raising the major league minimum from $200,000 to $285,000, with annual cost-of-living increases. The union proposed a $300,000 base, with annual increases of $25,000.
"We're close. We still have some differences, but they appear to be within a dimension that can be worked out," union lawyer Gene Orza said.
Meantime, it isn't clear whether arbitrator Shyam Das will deliver his delayed decision on the union's contraction grievance Thursday as expected.
Manfred said he anticipated the decision, but Orza said he would have expected Das to call Wednesday with a definitive word.
The decision was initially expected in mid-July, but Das asked for an extension until Aug. 1.
Said Orza: "It was never Aug. 1 specifically, but on or about Aug. 1."
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