Major League Baseball Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, left, and Commissioner...

Major League Baseball Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, left, and Commissioner Rob Manfred, right, walk after negotiations with the players association in an attempt to reach an agreement to salvage March 31 openers and a 162-game season, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.  Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

 On Day 92 of the lockout, Major League Baseball lead negotiator Dan Halem and his union counterpart, Bruce Meyer, held an informal meeting Thursday in New York that lasted roughly 90 minutes, according to a source.

The session marked a return to the table after Tuesday’s acrimonious split in Jupiter, Florida, where the two sides negotiated for nine consecutive days in the hope of beating Rob Manfred’s deadline for canceling regular-season games. When a new collective bargaining agreement was not reached by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the commissioner erased not only Opening Day but the first two series, a total of 91 games across the sport.

Thursday’s meeting was a chance for a cooler, more personal reset to the negotiations, without the contingent of players and owners involved during part of last week at Roger Dean Stadium.

By meeting’s end, a decision had not been made on the date for the next face-to-face negotiating session, but that was expected at some point in the very near future.

Obviously, time is of the essence. The longer this drags on, the more regular-season games will be lost, and now the second week has to be in jeopardy. Manfred has insisted on the need for a month of spring training, and nearly half of that exhibition schedule already has been wiped out.

Manfred’s decision to cut into the regular season and not pay the players for any games missed during the lockout also will complicate the negotiations going forward. Each day off the schedule represents $20 million in salary to the players, who maintain they’ll do what’s necessary to ensure a fair CBA. Meyer made it clear Tuesday that the union plans to fight for the entire 162-game salaries as well as make service time retroactive. After the first 15 days of the season, players no longer can qualify for a full year.

It’s possible that those requests could be tied to another issue by MLB, such as the request for the 14-team expanded playoffs. On Tuesday, Manfred said the owners’ side had come down to 12 to satisfy the players, but that can always be revisited.

The biggest obstacle remains the competitive balance tax. MLB’s last proposal was a non-starter for the union, sticking at $220 million through the first three years of the deal before jumping to $224M and $230M. The players are seeking thresholds of $238M, $244M, $250M, $256M and $263M, which they believe are more reflective of the sport’s revenue growth.

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