With a handful of teams lighting the hot stove early with relatively minor transactions, there’s a possibility MLB offseason may not go into full swing at the annual Winter Meetings. First on the schedule is the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement.
MLB and the players’ union are facing a 12 a.m. ET deadline on Thursday, Dec. 1, to avoid the league’s first work stoppage since 1994. Much has changed in the five years since the current CBA was put into place, with the qualifying offer system and international draft among the topics at the forefront of discussions.
So too is expanding active rosters to 26 players, while trimming rosters in September from 40 to 27 or 28 players.
Within the past week there have been reports of a lockout looming as a realistic possibility, and progress being made in discussions.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, if talks do not continue to advance then clubs will not take part in the upcoming Winter Meetings in Washington D.C.:
Sources: Club officials understand that if sufficient progress isn't made this week in CBA talks, teams won't participate in winter meetings
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 28, 2016
While the annual Winter Meetings represent a significant date on the offseason schedule, they come after the deadline (Friday) for club’s to tender contracts to players. A work stoppage on Thursday would halt all baseball activities.
Considering the growing popularity of the sport and historic revenue, MLB and the players’ association certainly have more than enough reasoning and motivation to avoid a lockout.
During the 2012-13 season, the NHL was the last American professional sports league to endure a work stoppage. Prior to that the NBA and NFL entered into lockouts during their respective 2011-12 seasons.