NEW YORK (AP) -- Four days before the strike deadline, baseball players and owners were taking tiny steps toward each other.
A day after criticizing players, owners made a new economic proposal Sunday that moved toward the union in an effort to head off a strike later this week.
Players, who have set a Friday deadline for a walkout, called the economic plan slight progress, and union head Donald Fehr said "the differences continue to be narrowed."
Owners raised their thresholds for a luxury tax and lowered their proposed tax rates, and also slightly decreased the amount of local revenue they want teams to share. They also made a new proposal on testing for steroid use, where the sides remain apart on details.
"While they did make some small movements in those areas, the luxury tax thresholds remain very, very low and constitute a big problem for us at this point," he said. When combined, he said the revenue sharing and luxury tax plans still look "very much like a salary cap."
So baseball remains faced with its ninth work stoppage since 1972, one that could further antagonize fans fed up with the sport's near-constant fights over money.
On Saturday night, management negotiators severely criticized the union for proposing the revenue-sharing increases be phased in, using the most harsh language since talks began in January.
Rob Manfred, the owners' top labor lawyer, said that after consultation with commissioner Bud Selig, his side decided "the best way to find out if they were serious about making an agreement was to put whatever happened last night to one side and make a forthcoming proposal and see if they could manage to do the same thing."
On revenue sharing, owners proposed that teams share 36 percent of their locally generated revenue, up from 20 percent this year. The teams' previous plan was 37 percent, and the union moved up to 33.3 percent in its Saturday proposal.
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