The calendar flipped to February a few days ago, and much of the Midwest region got pummeled with a wintery storm this week. In a normal year, early February — regardless of the foot of snow that may currently cover our favorite ballpark — marks the start of baseball’s nine-month campaign. But for now, the MLB owners and the players’ union remain in a lock in their CBA negotiations.
Even though both sides have acknowledged that crunch time is nearing (as far as starting spring training & the regular season on time), the collection of events from this week has been less than encouraging.
MLB Labor Update: Spring Training is in Danger
Following a Tuesday session described by several reporters as ‘heated’ and ‘underwhelming’, MLB did not make a counteroffer to the proposals made by the union after saying it would. Instead, MLB asked for federal mediation. This is not unheard of when it comes to labor negotiations in sports. In fact, it’s fairly common. Federal mediation was used during the baseball players’ strikes in 1981 and 1994, and more recently used to help the National Hockey League end its lockout back in 2013.
The use of federal mediation would need to be agreed on by both sides, and that ended up not being the case here. The players were not pleased with this request and officially declined the mediation on Friday.
Statement from the Major League Baseball Players Association: pic.twitter.com/KBssy2e66U— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) February 4, 2022
In Commissioner Rob Manfred’s letter to baseball fans from December, he ended the testament with this: “MLB is ready to work around the clock to meet that goal. I urge the Players Association to join us at the table.”
Pitchers and catchers typically report for spring camp around Valentine’s Day; that’s under two weeks away.
Some MLB players voiced their opinions on the current state of the negotiations:
We don’t need mediation because what we are offering to MLB is fair for both sides:— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) February 4, 2022
We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t function as caps, allows younger players to realize more of their market value, makes service time manipulation a thing of the past, and eliminate tanking as a winning strategy.— Max Scherzer (@Max_Scherzer) February 4, 2022
It would probably take 2 weeks just for an “impartial” mediator to get caught up enough to proceed. They’d then use an already broken system/CBA as guideline toward a new deal. Makes zero sense for anybody. Players are ready to make a fair/mutually beneficial deal! #AtTheTable— Alex Wood (@Awood45) February 4, 2022
Based on the incredible annual revenue of the league, we feel players with 0-3 years of service should be better compensated.— Whit Merrifield (@WhitMerrifield) February 4, 2022
We want to fix the competitive balance so EVERY team’s focus is winning year after year
We want to fix service time manipulation https://t.co/N5z5peN9wb
The scheduled start of the 2022 regular season is about eight weeks away.