Major League Baseball officially locked its players out on Dec. 2, and two months later, there has been very little progress made in negotiations. With pitchers and catchers set to report on Feb. 14, it now appears as if the start of Spring Training is going to be delayed.
Representatives from MLB and the MLBPA met on Tuesday afternoon, and sources say that the meeting did not go well at all. It’s unclear when the two sides are set to meet again, but each meeting has come with little to no progress regardless.
MLB executives have been racking their brains in recent years to make the game more enjoyable for a younger generation of fans, and a strike-shortened season would negate those efforts. The last meeting in December lasted just seven minutes, and the two sides seem unwilling to budge on key issues.
MLB could shorten the length of Spring Training to play a full 162 game season, but the players might reject that offer as well. The players want to make significant changes to the game and the financial part of it, but the owners prefer to keep things on the same path.
Key Issues Not Even Discussed
One of the players’ biggest issues is that they wish to start the arbitration process after just two years instead of three, but the owners have not even agreed to discuss that up to this point. The owners did make a couple of counter offers in the most recent negotiations on other points, but they were well short of the asks from the union.
The MLBPA asked for the minimum salary to be bumped up to $775,000 from the current $600,000. Owners agreed to a bump, but only raised the minimum starting salary to $615,000.
MLBPA also asked for a bonus pool of $105 million to be offered to players with less than three years of service time. The owners agreed to create the pool, but were only willing to throw $10 million into it.
Both sides remain extremely far apart when it comes to economics, which will be a problem until each side is willing to budge.
Cubs Could Benefit
While a delay in the start of the 2022 MLB season isn’t going to be good for the game at all, this could actually be a positive for the Cubs and their future plans.
Once a new labor agreement is signed, there will be very limited time to sign deals with free agents, which could help a team out like the Cubs.
The Cubs still have plenty of holes on the roster, but they also have some money to spend. Teams are likely going to ramp up training efforts quickly, and free agent players aren’t going to have a ton of time to meet with teams.
It’s still unclear how much the front office is willing to spend, but the Cubs might be in a position to swoop in and steal a player or two because of this expedited process.
You can expect to see a flurry of moves happen quickly once an agreement is reached, as players will want to get acclimated to their new cities and the team.