MLB and the Players Association failed to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) last month, which resulted in the team owners imposing a lockout that ended 27 years of labor peace.
The two sides have not made much progress since then as they have reportedly only had two meetings that did not address any key issues. MLB finally met with the MLBPA during the middle of the month to lay out their economic proposal and continue negotiations.
To no surprise, the union was disappointed with the discussions and are preparing a counter offer that is expected to be presented Monday.
The two sides still have time, but the pace of negotiations will need to speed up if they want to avoid Opening Day of the 2022 season being delayed, which would require a new CBA being in place by the beginning of March, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN:
Regular-season games don’t begin until March 31, and sources said in order for the season to start on time, a deal would need to be in place by early March.
Spring Training is scheduled to begin in mid-February, which is likely to be partly cancelled or delayed at this rate. But an agreement an early March could still give the players enough time to prepare for the season.
The remaining free agents also need time to sign deals with many great players still on the market, including Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant.
The 1994-1995 players’ strike, the last work stoppage in MLB, lasted 232 days and forced the sport to cancel 948 games, including the 1994 postseason.
The current lockout is unlikely to reach that point, but the two sides need to address multiple key issues including player compensation, competitive integrity and service-time manipulation. Tensions have been particularly high since the two sides were unable to agree on an economics plan for the COVID-impacted 2020 season.
In one of MLB’s final proposals before the lockout began, they reportedly called for an expanded postseason format that would have 14 total teams make the playoffs. MLB also proposed a draft lottery system that would give every team that misses the playoffs a chance to get the top overall pick in the draft, similar to what the NHL and NBA already do.
Average MLB team payrolls declined despite increasing revenue
Better compensation has been one of the key points the MLB Players Association has been fighting for, according to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark.
Despite revenue in MLB increasing in every year besides 2020’s COVID-impacted season, payrolls around the league have been dropping by nearly 5% since their previous high in 2017.
The union hopes to solve by helping players get paid properly earlier in their career as opposed to the current system that limits earnings until they have six years of experience and can reach free agency.
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