NEW YORK -- A day after baseball players set an Aug. 30 strike date, negotiators met twice on Saturday to discuss issues not related to the central economic differences.
The lawyers gathered twice at the commissioner's office for a total of about three hours, then recessed until Monday. The key issues of a luxury tax and revenue sharing were not discussed Saturday, and lawyers for both sides declined comment.
Owners want a luxury tax that would restrain player salaries, but they have proposed a far lower threshold and higher tax rate than the union will accept.
''I think a majority of owners, including me, would probably like to have even stronger cost-containment than we're talking about right now,'' Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks was quoted in Saturday's editions of The Dallas Morning News.
''If they do choose to go on strike, I'm confident ownership will not allow a repeat of 1994. We need to fix baseball and not just have another Band-Aid solution.''
Hicks' preference is for an agreement before the deadline. He doesn't want a repeat of the 232-day strike of 1994-95, which resulted in a luxury tax for the 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons that most owners thought was ineffective. It had a tax rate of 34-35 percent, but the threshold was fixed to the midpoint of the fifth- and sixth-highest payrolls each season.
This time, owners have proposed a tax of 37.5-50 percent on the portions of payrolls above $102 million.
Players offered a 15-30 percent tax on the portions above $130 million next year, with the threshold increasing by $10 million annually. The union also doesn't want a tax in the final year.
Hicks, who gave Alex Rodriguez a record $252 million, 10-year contract, said that if baseball winds up with a luxury tax, the Rangers would never exceed the threshold.
''Every team in baseball that has any kind of business sense would try to manage its payroll to stay under that tax threshold,'' Hicks said. ''There might be one or two that wouldn't, but that's a decision those teams have to make. Certainly, I can assure you, the Texas Rangers wouldn't be among them. If this system is implemented, the Texas Rangers will be under the threshold.''
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