Major League Baseball has announced that it has canceled all Spring Training games through March 7, with ESPN’s Jesse Rogers among those relayed (Twitter link). MLB . was previously announced Cancellation of all exhibition competitions until March 4th.
Today’s news is nothing more than a formality. It’s becoming increasingly clear as talks continue between the MLB and the players’ association with little progress over the week that a new collective bargaining agreement will not be in effect for the start of games next Saturday. The first matches will now begin on Tuesday, March 8 – dependent on the completion of the new CBA by next Monday, February 28.
Discussions between the league and the MLBPA continued for the fifth day in a row. The meetings continued into the early evening, and the parties reportedly made progress on one issue—albeit relatively less important than some of the others. Athletic’s Evan Drelish reports (on Twitter) The MLB and the union exchanged sweepstakes-related suggestions to determine the amateur delivery order. While the formula is not definitively agreed upon, Drelish reported that they “made gains” in the talks and there is optimism that they will find a mutually acceptable solution to this question relatively soon.
The two sides exchanged proposals on draft lotteries throughout the week. The MLB offered to select the first four selections by lottery, while the Syndicate sought a random selection of the first seven selections. The lottery will include all teams that did not participate in the playoff from the previous season, with the odds of each pick dropping in reverse order to the previous year’s standings. Whatever selections were not made by the lottery will then be assigned in the reverse order of the previous season’s win percentage, as was the case for all selections under the last CBA.
Derek Gould reports from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link) that the league’s latest proposal is still a four-choice lottery but includes various restrictions on the number of consecutive seasons a team may be eligible to enter. This is the main objective of the federation, which has sought to dissuade clubs from embarking on a long-term rebuilding by limiting the number of times a team can remain near the top of the draft. The MLBPA has proposed restricting teams’ eligibility for high selections based on both a) the number of consecutive seasons ending near the bottom of the standings and b) the size of the club’s market.
Given the absolute dearth of progress toward the midpoint on any issues during the CBA discussions, the two sides seemingly closing the lottery gap is welcome. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the lottery has always seemed to be one of the easiest points for the League and the Federation to find a solution. Issues such as the expansion of the playoff round (a major goal of the league), the competitive balance tax, the bonus pool for players before arbitration, and the union’s push for broader arbitration eligibility, all remain unresolved and appear to be more contentious.
Neither side made a formal proposal today on any issue other than the lottery, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. That said, Drillish Tweets That the parties have had talks on all other issues – even the CBT, on which neither side has made a formal offer in recent days. Today MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred appeared in the negotiations for the first time in the week, meeting face-to-face with MLBPA CEO Tony Clark. Gold Add That Manfred’s appearance was unscheduled came as a surprise to the federation, although the commissioner did not speak with any current players. It was the first known personal conversation between Manfred and Clark since 2020, Drelish points out.
Clearly, there is still a lot of work to do, and we are now only three days from the MLB deadline of February 28 for a deal before the league begins canceling regular season games. This still seems like a daunting task, although today’s reports come with a more optimistic hint about the gist of the talks than those released earlier in the week. They will meet again tomorrow and are expected to sit down every day until the end of the month in the hope of reaching an agreement.
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