NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball and its locked-out players agreed Thursday to negotiate on an international amateur draft, paving the way for renewed economic talks.
Under an agreement reached on the 99th day of a lockout that has delayed the season, the sides agreed to a July 25 deadline to establish an international draft that would start in 2024.
Talks aimed at ending the lockout bogged down on the draft issue Wednesday, and baseball commissioner Rob Manfred canceled 93 more games, raising the total to 184. He said Opening Day, originally scheduled for March 31, would be no earlier than April 14.
The sides narrowed many economic differences to a small margin, when the international draft obstacle caused MLB to refuse to counter the union's latest overall proposal.
Under the deal reached Thursday, if a negotiated agreement on a draft is reached by July 25, direct amateur draft-pick compensation would be removed for free agents starting with the 2022-23 offseason.
If the sides do not reach an agreement by July 25, direct amateur-draft pick compensation would remain in place.
"The PA awaits a counter from the league to its global proposals made at 1 p.m. yesterday," the union said in a statement.
While Manfred did not use the word "canceled" to describe the games wiped off the calendar, he left the appearance 162 games no longer could be played due to baseball's ninth work stoppage, its first since 1995.
"We were talking these last few days about taking those first two series and finding a way to get them back in the schedule," Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said. "From what I'm hearing now, these four series are out."
In MLB's proposal for an international draft, teams would rotate picking in different quadrants of the first round over a four-year period. A slotting system would be installed similar to what the union agreed to starting in 2012 for the amateur draft covering residents of the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
The international draft proposal includes hard slots that could not be negotiated by individuals. MLB estimates $17 million in additional spending for the drafted international players above the $166.3 million spent by the 30 teams in 2021, plus an additional $6 million on non-drafted players. The draft would start in 2024.
International players would lose the right to pick which team they sign with. The age for the draft would be in the year a player turns 16.
"The narrative being pushed also ignores a lot of history, including corruption from clubs," Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor tweeted. "This issue is bigger than just Latin players or amateur players. It's about all players and about the future of the game."