MLB Lockdown News: Rob Manfred Cancels More Games After Talks Stall; April 14 now opening day as soon as possible

On Wednesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced a new wave of regular season cancellations. Opening day has been postponed to at least April 14, canceling two more series for each team. Last week, Manfred announced that the first two series of the 2022 regular season had been canceled. Opening day was originally scheduled for March 31.

The cancellations come after two days of marathon bargaining sessions between MLB and the MLB Players Association that failed to result in a new collective bargaining agreement. Here is Manfred’s statement on the latest wave of cancellations:

“In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season, this week we made good-faith proposals that address specific concerns expressed by the MLBPA and would have allowed players to return to the field immediately. Clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA.On major economic issues that posed stumbling blocks, clubs offered ways to close the gaps to preserve a full schedule.Unfortunately, after our second negotiating session night in a week, we remain without agreement.

“Due to the logistical realities of the schedule, two more series are being removed from the schedule, which means opening day is postponed to April 14. We have worked hard to reach an agreement and have offered a fair deal with improvements meaningful to players and our I am saddened by the continued impact of this situation on our game and everyone in it, especially our loyal fans.

“We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they will ultimately choose to accept the fair deal they have been offered.”

“The owners’ decision to cancel additional games is completely unnecessary,” the MLBPA said in a statement. “After making a series of comprehensive proposals to the league earlier this afternoon, and hearing that substantial responses were forthcoming, the players have yet to hear. The players want to play, and we can’t wait to get back. on the pitch for the best fans of Our top priority remains to finalize a fair contract for all Players, and we will continue negotiations towards this end.

The owner-imposed lockdown is approaching its 100th day, and MLB has set another “soft” deadline for games to be canceled on Tuesday. That deadline was pushed back to Wednesday after 5 p.m. of negotiations, and while the two sides have closed the gap on some economic issues, the biggest sticking point right now is an international project. MLB wants one and the union opposes it.

The count is four canceled series for each of the 30 teams. Typically, each team plays about two series per week throughout the season, so that’s like canceling two weeks out of the season. As of Wednesday night, no further meetings between MLB and the MLBPA were scheduled. That could change at any time, of course.

Here are five takeaways from the latest round of negotiations and cancellations.

1. Jackie Robinson Day could be in danger

Perhaps some of the focus here should shift to Jackie Robinson Day. This is an event celebrated annually by Major League Baseball on the anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947. April 15, 1947 was the opening day of that season and every year that day, beginning in the 2004 season, MLB celebrated, most recently moving to every player wearing Robinson’s No. 42 (he’s otherwise retired leaguewide).

April 15 falls on a Friday this year and the date is in a precarious position on the MLB calendar, although there is also a chance that it will mark a triumphant return. The first four canceled series bring us until April 14. If the owners keep the lockdown intact and a deal isn’t reached, the next batch of cancellations will include Jackie Robinson Day on the 75th anniversary of his MLB debut.

It would then mark the second year in three that MLB has missed a Robinson memorial on April 15. In 2020, the season was delayed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Jackie Robinson Day took place on August 28.

2. The international draft is now a sticking point

Over the past 48 hours or so, an international draft has become a hot topic. MLB wants one and has had it for years, and the MLBPA opposes it. “The international draft will kill baseball in the Dominican Republic. It will affect us a lot, because there will be many young people who gave them the possibility of having a bonus and with the draft it will not be the same,” said the Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. on Tuesday.

The international draft has been in every MLB proposal since last year and the MLBPA has rejected it every time, but it came to the fore on Wednesday when the league set an ultimatum. MLB tied the elimination of the qualifying offer, which the MLBPA wants, to the international draft and told the union it would not contradict its latest proposal unless it chooses one of three options. following:

  1. Eliminate the qualifying offer and create an international draft.
  2. The qualifying offer remains without international draft.
  3. Eliminate the qualification offer and discuss an international project later.

For the third option, MLB wanted an international draft in place by Nov. 15, 2022, or else it would have the option of reopening the entire collective bargaining agreement after 2024. The union rejected all three options and rather proposed to eliminate the qualifying offer system, then bring it back if a draft international agreement has not been reached by November 15. MLB did not respond.

The league proposed a complicated international draft with fixed bonuses and a rotation order that is not linked to the team’s record. Players outside of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are currently free to sign with any team once they turn 16. Each team receives a fixed bonus pool to spend on international players each year. It is usually between 4 and 6 million dollars.

3. Gaps have been filled on fundamental economic issues

It’s not all bad news. MLB and MLBPA have significantly narrowed the gaps on several fundamental economic issues this week, the issues that, well, matter most during these talks. Here’s where each side stands on the most important economic elements:

Minimum wage

$570,500

$710,000 in 2022 rising to $770,000 in 2026

$725,000 in 2022 rising to $780,000 in 2026

Competitive equilibrium tax threshold

$210 million

$230 million in 2022 rising to $242 million in 2026

$232 million in 2022 rising to $250 million in 2026

Pre-arbitrage bonus pool

N / A

$40 million with no increase

$65 million with increases of $5 million each year

The minimum wage and competitive fiscal balance proposals are now close enough that the two sides can reach a consensus on the next offer. The discrepancy with the pre-arbitration bonus pool remains significant, but nothing that cannot be resolved. The thing is, MLB and MLBPA are getting closer to the money, and that wasn’t the case even a week ago. It is progress.

4. It all got a little more complicated

The schedule says a 162-game game will soon become impossible — MLB said 162 games could have been played, an agreement was reached on Wednesday — and last week Manfred said “our position is that games don’t will not be played, players will not be paid for .” The union rejects this notion and has threatened to suspend an expanded post-season field if players do not receive their full salaries (with canceled games being postponed).

This now means that in addition to all collective bargaining issues, MLB and MLBPA must now negotiate salary and service time. You may remember they haggled over this during the pandemic shutdown in 2020 and ultimately couldn’t come to an agreement. Eventually, the union backed out of bargaining and allowed Manfred to unilaterally schedule the season with pro-rated pay, a unique power granted to him in the March agreement of that year.

The number of games played, the amount paid to players for those games and the schedule itself are all subject to negotiation. Manfred cannot unilaterally implement a shortened season with prorated wages. MLB and MLBPA will have to agree to those terms and that’s another layer of complexity on top of an already complex negotiation. Ultimately, it got a lot more complicated.

5. We’ll do it again next week (probably)

At this point, it’s fair to assume that MLB will cancel games week by week until a deal is reached. That means we’ll likely see what we’ve seen over the past two weeks — marathon negotiation sessions with proposals and counter-proposals — every week. We will hear one side being optimistic, the other being unreasonable, and so on. Everything we’ve heard over the past two weeks will recur every week until a deal is in place.

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