Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout is on the precipice of compromising the regular season. Monday marked the league’s self-imposed deadline for when a new collective bargaining agreement must be reached before regular-season games are canceled. This would mark the first time in 27 years that regular-season contests are impacted by a work stoppage. (The 2020 season was altered by the pandemic.)
As the clock struck midnight in Jupiter, Florida (where negotiations are happening) the MLBPA and MLB continued to talk. Reports throughout Monday evening seemed to suggest there was progress made toward a deal, but nothing was imminent. There appears to be a shred of hope that the 2022 season begins, as planned, on March 31, though the two sides still need to agree on several important items.
During Monday’s early meetings, MLB informed the MLBPA it is willing to miss a month’s worth of games and took a more threatening tone, reports Evan Drellich of The Athletic. Earlier this month commissioner Rob Manfred said missing games would be a “disastrous outcome” for the sport, words that have rung hollow in the weeks since. The two sides began meetings at 10 a.m. ET on Monday in and were still going into the early morning hours.
Around 8:35 p.m. ET, a representative from the owner side was sent back to meet with the players. It is believed this was the sixth separate meeting between to the two sides on Monday. A report from Evan Drellich of The Athletic indicates there has been movement toward a deal. The owners have presented the players with two options, per the report:
1. Fourteen playoff teams, a minimum salary of around $700,000 and about $40 million in a bonus pool divided amongst the best pre-arbitration players.
2. Twelve playoff teams, a minimum salary of around $675,000 and around $20 million in the pre-arbitration bonus pool.
The two sides could continue negotiations on Tuesday and avoid pushing Opening Day back despite the league’s deadline, adds ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
CBS Sports has provided a timeline of the lockout here, but the short version is that the owners placed the padlocks on when the previous CBA expired. They were under no obligation to do so, but it was labeled as a defensive maneuver. The league then waited more than six weeks to make its first proposal. The two sides have since had a number of in-person negotiations, with some of the main sticking points including the Competitive Balance Tax; revenue sharing; the breakdown of players who qualify for Super Two status in arbitration; and the league-minimum salary.
CBS Sports is providing live updates of Monday’s and now Tuesday’s negotiations. You can find those below.
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I think this is the 13th?
A bigger contingent from the owner side is heading over to see the players now.
For much of the day it’s been two people heading back and forth. This time it’s four. Take from that what you will.
The 15th hour
MLB and MLBPA are still talking.
This definitely can’t be a bad thing at this point.
How much does Joc know?
In the meantime, is Joc just playing around or has he been in contact with people in the negotiating room? Notice the wording here:
“WHEN” this deal is done? Don’t toy with us, Joc.
Hard telling when this will end
We’d hoped to be able to give you an update at this hour as to whether or not something will happen before you’re released for bed time. But …
OF COURSE they can’t even agree on when to stop for the night, right?
The takeaway is that either the talks will continue tonight or they won’t. Shrug.
just got way too excited about nailing a tough Wordle, by the way
12-team playoff seems likely
There are now multiple reports (Bob Nightengale of USA Today was first with it) that the playoffs will expand, but just to 12 teams (so three division winners and three wild cards in each league), not the 14 the league had been proposing. Apparently, the players were adamantly against expanding to 14, which is nearly half the league, as it would cheapen the regular season too greatly. If these reports are true, score a small victory for the players.
Some good news?
I’ll try to be a source of positivity here and point something out.
When the clock struck midnight back on Dec. 2 and the CBA expired, Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball released a lengthy statement about why a lockout was necessary. It had obviously been written days (weeks?) in advance, as the owners had no plans to entertain any scenario that didn’t involve a lockout.
This time around, midnight has passed and we’re into March and MLB hasn’t cancelled opening day.
Is the difference here in approach good news? I’ll leave that up to you.
But the two sides are still engaged in what are surely meaningful discussions. Some reports have them closing in on a deal. Stay tuned for the time being.
Tick, tick, tick …
Reminder that there’s supposedly a deadline here in a few minutes.
Round 11 is complete
I’m envisioning the first Rocky movie, where both fighters are clearly spent but are refusing to give up. The players are about to slowly rise from the corner and wave their paws as if to say “bring it, again” and the owners are going to look to the side, annoyed, with a look like “what’s it going to take?” — all the while knowing they don’t want a rematch.
THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN
Always love when I can go with that headline.
We’re calling this meeting number 11. 18 minutes until the faux-deadline.
Let’s check in with Joc Pederson
Reigning World Series champion and pearl enthusiast Joc Pederson chimed in on the idea of a 14-team postseason on Twitter.
I’ll confess I’m now fully invested in counting the meetings, so disregard the sentiment in my previous update. Anywho …
I think we’re into “choose your own adventure” (everyone remember those books?) territory. If you want to believe they are simply ironing out the final details, one item at a time per meeting, by all means, believe it.
One hour …
If MLB is truly sticking to a hard deadline, there are only 60 minutes left.
Spoiler: They won’t stick to it.
Meeting No. 9 in the books
The sides have met for the ninth time in 13 hours. Took only a few minutes after MLB reps came over to the player side.
I mean, we’re probably well into the territory where it doesn’t do us any good to count, but it looks like there’s more …
I’ll reiterate that this certainly can’t be really bad news that the two sides continue to go back and forth. Surely it shows even just marginal progress on working toward a deal.
I also have a hunch this soft “deadline” is nonsense and they’ll end up pushing talks into tomorrow.
It appears this meeting only took five minutes. I’m not sure why something this short couldn’t have been done electronically (if they don’t want text because tone of voice is important, maybe Facetime or something?), but hey, they seem to like the person-to-person, so by all means. Whatever works.
Meeting number eight? Meeting number eight
I have to assume progress is being made, because there are betters ways to get exercise than walking back and forth across a parking lot. Perhaps the CBT threshold is settling somewhere in the mid-220s? Are they discussing the 12-team vs. 14-team playoff format?
We’ve reached the 12-hour mark
Negotiations between the MLB and MLBPA started a touch over 12 hours ago. One can only wonder how much differently the winter would have gone if talks started when the owners decided a lockout was necessary to trigger talks … instead they waited 43 days before presenting the players with an offer.
no updates for nearly an hour now, so it appears talks about still going strong
Back and forth pace picking up
For anyone wanting to grasp at straws here …
… it seems like going back and forth quickly might be a sign things are closer? Otherwise there wouldn’t be a need to keep jumping back and forth so quickly, right? RIGHT?
For now, my expectation — which is informed speculation — is that talks will carry on deep into the night. Midnight eastern or so. And there still won’t be a deal in place by then.
Another meeting done, night not over
I believe this was the fifth meeting with people from each side. They’ll continue to go back and forth until we’re told otherwise. Again, we aren’t going to draw a conclusion on this being good news or anything — the hunch is still that no deal comes to fruition tonight — but it’s definitely not bad news that talks continue. No one has stormed off yet.
MLB executives head back to players
More back and forth. I’m not sure it’s a good sign or anything, but it’s certainly not a bad sign that the two sides continue to talk.
Thor shares his thoughts
An expansion of the playoffs remains one of the MLBPA’s biggest bargaining chips. Previous reporting indicates that the players union could reject an expanded postseason if there is not a 162-game season in 2022.