The MLB lockout is almost three weeks old and it appears that not much has come out of the negotiations. So what exactly is happening between the owners and the players? Are they closer to a deal? And most importantly: When is the time to worry about the immediate future – if not the long term – of the sport?
ESPN baseball expert Jesse Rogers addresses those questions and more.
The last: MLB and the Players Association met Thursday for the first time since the lockout began on Dec. 1 | Men in the shadows: Players poke fun at MLB silhouettes
Did the two parties meet last week?
Yes. But only on some of the smaller or “non-core economic” issues, which would not necessarily even involve the main negotiators on both sides, although at least there was communication. These side topics, which may include programming, the All-Star Game, drug and domestic violence policies, grievance procedures, and special events are worth discussing, but the only conversations that will bring us closer to ending the shutdown will be the following: the main economic problems that forced the lockout in the first place.
Are you planning to meet this week?
There is nothing scheduled for Christmas week, but that can always change if one side or the other has something to add, change, or say about a proposal, but even then, it will most likely remain on those non-core topics.
How much progress has been made?
Very little so far. January will be a great month to determine when the lockout ends. Fundamental economic issues will be back on the table in the new year, and serious negotiations should take place. It’s anyone’s guess right now if that will happen on January 2 or January 22, but the sides can’t keep the train from rolling down the tracks (especially since spring training usually starts in February). To get out of the deadlock, one or both parties will have to compromise a bit on an important issue.
What kind of major problem?
Nothing great, just the economic systems that have been around for decades. Sarcasm aside, there are several key issues that need to be resolved, including years in free agency (or the switch to an age-based system), the refereeing system, and revenue sharing between clubs. To paraphrase here, the players say they are working under outdated rules, while the league says these are core issues in the way the game is played, which has long been agreed upon. That is the deadlock.
Why can’t they commit?
The union was not at all happy with the outcome of the 2016 CBA negotiations or, they say, with how the game has changed since then. So this year, the players need a win. The league believes they have been offered some in the form of an NBA-style draft lottery and / or the removal of draft pick compensation for free agents. Obviously, the union doesn’t think it’s enough.
How worried should fans be right now?
Not much, yet, but we’ll know a lot more in a month.
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Are the two parties talking? Should fans be concerned? Answering the latest questions about the MLB shutdown