No games before April 14?
There won’t be an MLB game until at least April 14. After negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA broke down on Wednesday, the league canceled week two of the 2022 regular season. How far apart are the two sides in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement? How worried should fans be about the sport’s short – and long – term future? Here are the five biggest questions as the MLB lockout continues.
How likely are we to see MLB on April 15?
The good news is that significant progress has been made, including on many fundamental economic issues. At this point, most of the season can be salvaged, and so it’s not at all impossible to play regular season baseball on April 15. But after the tone turned hostile on Wednesday, executives and agents are worried that negotiations will slip back from now. The league gave players several deadlines after which they would not receive their full salaries (and repeatedly moved them). If MLB keeps its word this time around, and the players definitely won’t be paid for a full season, it will add another fight to the negotiations.
After four series have been canceled so far, is a full MLB schedule definitely ruled out for this season?
Not necessarily, but the league and the players are in uncharted waters. The 1990 lockout lasted until mid-March, pushing back Opening Day by a week and extending the regular season by three days. This season has already been delayed by two weeks, with an added complication: There was no interleague play back then, which means it’s even harder to catch up on those playoffs this year. If an agreement is reached quickly, it is not impossible to play 162 games – 7-leg double matches would be the norm – but the end of negotiations on Wednesday without an agreement has considerably reduced the chances of playing a full season.
What is the main reason why these negotiations failed?
The last question was about the international project but it all boils down to trust between the parties. Or, more specifically, lack of confidence. On Wednesday we had the most recent example of one group believing something was on the table while the other disagreed. In this case, it was a proposed exchange of two key issues: the elimination of draft pick compensation for the international draft. The league took up the issue in Jupiter, Fla., for nine days of talks last month, but there was no handshake or even acknowledgment of what was a genuine proposal and what wasn’t. only words. This lack of clarity was an almost insurmountable problem for the parties from the start: Negotiations were followed by backtracking and then pirouetting, on both sides. The next secret deal to be struck between the league and the union will, it seems, be the first. This is the ultimate problem.
Who made the biggest concessions in the last rounds of negotiations?
Over the past few days, the league has moved in the direction of the players on several fronts, including on the Competitive Balance Tax and the pre-arbitration bonus pool. It was the bare minimum, at this point – especially the move on the first tax threshold. Still, the actions showed a willingness to compromise that MLB didn’t have in the last round of meetings in Florida. But, for the first time in negotiations, the league has drawn a line when it comes to the international draft. Either the players had to accept it – and get the pick pick compensation removed – or they had to play by the old rules. Players felt like they never agreed to link these two elements.
In Florida and this week in New York, players waived major fundamental changes to the game, including expanding Super 2 status for players as well as any major anti-tanking measures. The league has made some necessary concessions — but it’s still up to MLB to do more.
Where can negotiations go from here?
The parties kept communication open well into Wednesday night, even after in-person negotiations ended. The simplest solution would be for the union to take a little more time to discuss the international project with its members and put the concept back on the table; in theory, games could pick up where they left off. The other solution is to ignore the draft proposal and find a way to make a deal without it. The two sides couldn’t make it on Wednesday, but having a day or two off after being in Florida before this round of talks helped make progress – maybe another short break could do the same. In truth, there are still many ways to make this deal. The parties just haven’t agreed on one yet.