Major League Baseball’s commissioner’s office announced a deal Thursday to provide financial relief to minor leaguers by giving them a lump sum commensurate to what their spring training allowances would have been through April 8, the day before the minor league season was to begin.
MLB’s plan was not to work out a package for the minor leaguers until it had finalized a deal with how to handle 40-man roster players. That no deal had yet to be reached by Thursday afternoon indicates what a hurdle working out service time is in negotiations between MLB and the Players Association.
Service time is among the most vital elements in the game, impacting when players become eligible for arbitration and free agency, while also determining how vested a player is in the pension plan.
The union’s recent proposal was that even if no games were played in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, players would receive full service time for the 2020 season as long as they had reached certain service time criteria in 2019 — the initial plan was at least 60 days of service. MLB countered that a full service year (normally 172 days) would be credited for 130 games or more and that…