A week after delaying the start of the preseason, Major League Baseball announced that no preseason games will be played in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues until March 8, at the earliest.
The previous delay addressed games through March 4, and an MLB spokesman told the media Friday afternoon that games from March 5-7 will also not be played. MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) will continue to meet in Jupiter, Florida this weekend in hopes of agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The parties have been meeting on Jupiter since Monday. MLB has set February 28 as the deadline to reach an agreement for the regular season to start on March 31, as scheduled, so the league and the union have three more days to agree.
In a statement Friday, MLB said: “Although negotiations have not yet resulted in an agreement, we are committed to working tirelessly through the Monday deadline. We look forward to preserving the full regular season our fans deserve and the four weeks spring training that the players will need to prepare. Last week, the start of Spring Training games was pushed back to March 4. Unfortunately, in recognition of scheduling realities, Spring Training games will not start before Tuesday, March 8.
“All 30 clubs remain unified in their strong desire to bring the players back onto the pitch and the fans back into the stands. Because we are seeking an agreement that is fair to each party, we have responded to the stated objectives of the players. We hope to resolve these issues with the regular season intact and look forward to this weekend’s discussions.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said this month that, based on injury data and the league’s experience during the 2020 season–which was shortened by the pandemic–spring training should be four weeks for players to be able to properly prepare for the season.
On Friday, the two sides advanced discussions on the draft lottery, which could be resolved on Saturday. However, the sides must bridge the gap on key issues, including the competitive breakeven tax, Super Two eligibility, minimum wages and a dollar figure for a pre-arbitration bond fund.
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Delayed once again the preseason