There is no agreement. The MLB lockout continues.
Major League Baseball has announced the delay of the 2022 regular season after MLBPA player leaders unanimously agreed not to accept MLB’s final proposal before the league’s 5 p.m. East of Tuesday.
Whats Next? Will Opening Day really be delayed? Why can’t owners and players join? How much longer is this mess going to last?
ESPN baseball experts Alden Gonzalez and Jeff Passan tackle the biggest questions surrounding MLB’s ongoing labor dispute.
They have had three months to close a deal; Why haven’t owners and players been able to agree on a new labor agreement?
There are several macro reasons why this hasn’t happened: players’ deep-seated mistrust of owners, a desire to make significant gains in a Collective Bargaining Agreement that was outlined by the teams’ front offices, a penchant for by billionaire corporations to maximize profits regardless of the pushback, but here’s a micro: At the start of negotiations, the owners expressed a willingness to reallocate money going to players, but not increase it. In other words, the cake could change but not grow any larger.
The owners’ position contrasted sharply with the union’s ambitions. That’s why all of the league’s counterproposals seemed to include a rear component, like a salary floor with a significantly lower ceiling, and why proposals on minimum wages, the luxury tax threshold and the amount of money that would fund the fund for new players were nominal at best. The league waited three months to counter the union’s first proposal focused on economic issues, then six weeks to back down after imposing the lockout in December, clear signals to the union that owners were motivated to prolong this in hopes to make the players yield.
The real negotiations did not take place until the last week of February. At the time, the union had given up its demands for previous cuts in free agency and revenue sharing and made significant concessions on the percentage of additional players who would be eligible for arbitration ahead of time. The owners, in turn, made more generous proposals around minimum wages, the luxury tax threshold and the pool of additional players. But the gap is still too wide. The owners do not want to spend much more. Players believe, given the extra cash an expanded postseason will provide, not to mention the upcoming influx of betting, that they should. — Alden Gonzalez
What about the negotiations, now that the deadline to start on time has passed?
The parties will continue to talk as long as each feels it is advantageous to do so. As the deadline approached, there was a willingness to move forward on issues that both sides had entrenched themselves in, which is an obvious consequence of the league setting the deadline and illustrates why. There is a deal to be struck. Everyone involved knows it. It’s just a matter of finding not necessarily a deal that makes all parties happy, but one they can both live with, knowing that the terms of it, as well as avoiding the horror of losing even more games, outweigh the alternative. . — Jeff Passan
When is the earliest the MLB season could start, now that Opening Day is delayed?
Rob Manfred announced that the first two series of the regular season have been canceled and will not be brought back. So the earliest the season could start is April 8.
Is there anything the commissioner can do to start the season without a new labor agreement?
Absolutely. Rob Manfred could lift the lockout and players could report to work and play under the old deal. It’s unlikely to do this because it gives players the ability to attack, and because the removal of the competitive balance tax in the old CBA means MLB would essentially be operating without it, but the league has that option in its pocket. — Passan
Will the schedule be returned to as it is currently set when the season finally begins, or will MLB have to come up with a new schedule for a shorter season?
The league will resume the calendar. To do the opposite, with tickets sold for specific games on specific dates, would be very difficult. — Passan
Does either side gain more leverage in the negotiations if the regular season continues to be delayed?
The owners have the upper hand. They are billionaires and often own their franchises for decades, passing them down from generation to generation. In the long run, a few games lost within a season are just a blip on his radar. Players’ careers are significantly shorter and so is their earning power. They make significantly bigger sacrifices when games are lost. The bet the owners are making is that missed paychecks will fracture the union enough for players to come even closer to their side.
The MLB Players Association has been preparing for this since the last CBA was signed more than five years ago, stashing a significant portion of license checks to pay players during a potential work stoppage. Starting in April, players will be paid $15,000 a month. That doesn’t come close to matching their typical salaries. But the players do have some leverage: the expanded playoffs and windfall financial gains that come from it, which the union was smart to tie to a full season.
Apparently, public support is also in favor of the players. The blame for a shorter season, and the effects of it, rest primarily with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, fair or not. He is at the mercy of the owners who employ him, but it is his job to generate enough consensus to reach an agreement. — Gonzalez
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No Deal: What we know and don’t know as MLB delays Opening Day