MLB announced Opening Day will not be held on March 31 and the first two series of the regular season have been canceled due to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) not being put into place by the league’s self-imposed deadline on Tuesday.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers it amounts to games against the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks getting removed from the schedule. Overall, this marks the first time regular season games have been canceled due to an MLB work stoppage since the players’ strike in 1994-95.
MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) met for nine consecutive days at Roger Dean Stadium, but were unable to generate much progress toward a new CBA during that span. Negotiations on the initial deadline day began with MLB reportedly informing the union they were willing to cancel the first month of the regular season.
That tone was in stark contrast to what commissioner Rob Manfred expressed during a press conference at the conclusion of owners meetings in Orlando when he said lost games would be a “disastrous outcome” for the sport.
Reports of momentum late Monday night led to the deadline being extended, but the significant hurdles could not be cleared. The Players Association ultimately voted down the best and final offer from MLB roughly 40 minutes before the 2 p.m. PT deadline on Tuesday.
Key issues throughout CBA negotiations were economic matters, such as the luxury tax thresholds and accompanying penalties, minimum starting salary, pre-arbitration bonus pool, and percentage of players that would qualify for Super Two status.
With the luxury tax, the union asked for the threshold to be set at $238 million for the 2022 season and increase to $263 million by the final year of the CBA.
In what MLB deemed their best and final offer, the competitive balance tax was proposed at $220 million for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 seasons; $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026.
The luxury tax threshold was set at $210 million in 2021.
MLB did do away with increasing penalties for exceeding the CBT, which the Players Association had taken issue with.
With the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the MLBPA lowered their ask from $115 million to $85 million, but with $5 million annual increases. The league countered at $30 million.
Minimum salary is yet another discrepancy, with the Players Association at $725,000 and increasing throughout the CBA. MLB has offered a $700,000 minimum salary and $10,000 annual increases.
Next steps for MLB & MLBPA
It’s unclear how quickly the league and union may resume negotiations. If the process remains drawn-out it will result in more regular season games getting canceled, which MLB previously noted would not be rescheduled.
Thus far, Spring Training has already been delayed and won’t begin until March 8, but that will be pushed back further.
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