Major League Baseball canceled another slate of regular-season games on Wednesday as its lockout neared 100 day, and players, teams and fans had to ponder a 2022 season minus at least a dozen games on their schedules.
Although significant progress was made in four days of negotiations in New York between MLB teams and the players’ union, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement after MLB’s insistence that an international project be included in the collective agreement – or that the ABC be reopened after the 2024 season.
It ended negotiations that saw the sides grow maddeningly close on key issues such as the luxury tax cap and minimum wage. MLB insisted that the international draft be included in all previous proposals – while MLBPA noted that it had been rejected each time.
“In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season, this week we made good-faith proposals that address specific concerns expressed by the MLBPA and would have allowed players to return to the field immediately,” Rob said. the commissioner of MLB. Manfred said in a statement, “Clubs have made extraordinary efforts to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA. On key economic issues that have posed stumbling blocks, Clubs have offered ways to bridge the gaps to preserve a full schedule Unfortunately, after our second nightly trading session in a week, we are still without a deal.
“Due to the logistical realities of the schedule, two more series are being removed from the schedule, which means Opening Day has been moved to April 14. We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they ultimately choose to accept the fair deal offered to them.”
CONTINUED:Which MLB owners are most likely to hold the 2022 season over a few million?
For now, the nearly 200 total games erased from the slate represent the third highest number of games lost due to a work stoppage – surpassed only by the 713 cancellations during the 1981 strike and the 948 lost in the 1994-95 strike/lockout.
Now, just two years after the pandemic kicked off season openers from March to July, MLB is facing a delay on its part: opening day, unless a quick settlement and a postponement, will probably be pushed back to April 14.
This time, another deadline created by MLB sparked a debate between the owners and the MLB Players Association, but failed to trigger an agreement.
The league hinted Monday night that it would drop its seemingly entrenched luxury tax cap of $220 million — by far the biggest sticking point in those talks — to $228 million and rising to $238 million. million in Year 5, which matches player demand in Year 1. which results in a proposed cap of $263 million in 2026.
Still, union officials took a cautious tone Monday on upgrading the luxury tax until they see what it’s tied to in a comprehensive MLB proposal.
MLB went further on the luxury tax on Wednesday, increasing its 2022 offer to $230 million – an increase of $20 million from 2021 and $16 million from its initial offer of 214. millions of dollars. It narrowed the gap between the sides to a realistic enough point that a deal seemed plausible – with the union seeking $232m and topping $250m in year five, with MLB at $230m and $242m. dollars, respectively.
Still, MLB’s insistence that an international draft — which would likely take away the earning power of top teenage prospects in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela who sign as young as 16 — was enough to kill all that momentum.
As part of the negotiation, MLB insisted that it peg draft pay to free agents unless the union agrees to the international draft. It was the provision amending the agreement that the union feared earlier in the week.
According to a baseball official with direct knowledge of the negotiations, the union offered a middle ground that could have paved the way for a deal: removing compensation from draft picks, while giving both sides until November 15 to agree on an international repechage.
If the sides fail to reach an agreement, draft selection compensation returns after the 2022-23 offseason — giving players just one year without free agency-related compensation — and the current international amateur system remains.
The official spoke with USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the negotiations.
Now? Back at the bargaining table, with players facing another tough climb to reestablish a full schedule, full pay and full service time.
After the league’s previous CBA expired, MLB locked players out on Dec. 2, calling it a “defensive” maneuver aimed at triggering negotiations. Instead, the parties did not exchange proposals for 43 days and movement was minimal until an eight-day round of negotiations in Jupiter, Fla., late last month.
Still, while those sessions produced at least a temporary deal on an expanded playoff, MLB’s luxury tax deals didn’t move the union enough to strike a deal, and Manfred announced the first slate on March 1. cancellations.
Meanwhile, hundreds of free agents remain unsigned and the more than 700 MLBPA member players continue to train alone or at an MLBPA camp in Arizona, pending spring training which will be delayed by at least a month.
And maybe even longer.
Contributor: Bob Nightengale