Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association plan to hold a bargaining session on Thursday, the first since the league locked players out on December 2, sources familiar with the matter told ESPN on Tuesday.

MLB has reached out to the union to set up the meeting, at which the league plans to make a proposal that touches on some fundamental economic and competitive issues, sources say. The lockout followed face-to-face meetings in Dallas, in which parties made no progress on a new labor agreement as the previous collective agreement expired.

While the parties met in December to discuss ancillary matters, the path to a possible deal is through sports economics, and the meeting could be a harbinger of how long the game’s first work stoppage since more than a quarter of a century.

So far, progress has been slow. The divide between the games is large, with players looking for substantial gains across the board with earlier free agency and arbitration, a sharp increase in the competitive balance tax threshold, higher paid players to a younger one. age and new mechanics to make teams win. The league said it believes it is paying players a sufficient overall amount and is looking for a better competitive balance and an expanded playoffs.

The Dallas meetings have personified the course of negotiations so far. The union made a proposal that mirrored the previous one. The league said on December 1 that it would make a counter-proposal if the union agreed to withdraw from talks by reducing the time until players reach free agency and arbitration as well as any change in the split. revenues. The union disagreed. League officials left the hotel where the negotiations were taking place, did not return and sidelined the players that night.

The MLB had previously proposed changes that included removing direct compensation for draft picks on top free agents, a draft lottery, a designated universal hitter, a minimum increase in the CBT threshold, and a higher minimum wage. The union, in its latest proposal, said it was open to an expanded playoffs – with 12 teams, as opposed to the 14 the league wants – and allowing the league to put advertising patches on jerseys.

If the meeting put the parties on track for a deal, it could save the start of spring training in time, something sources on both sides have called peril in recent weeks. Pitchers and receivers are scheduled to report to camps in Arizona and Florida by mid-February, with the first games scheduled for February 26.

Regular season games don’t start until March 31, and sources have said that for the season to start on time, a deal would need to be in place by early March. Due to the lockout, a number of logistical issues – from the more than 100 free agents still unemployed to expired visas from non-U.S. Players – will be prevalent and are expected to lead to a rush regardless of when a case is made. is concluded.