After another set of collective bargaining sessions between MLB and the MLBPA over the last few days once again failed to bring about a new CBA, the league announced on Wednesday afternoon that they plan to cancel two more series to start the season. This decision ruled out the possibility of playing 162 games in 2022 entirely, and it pushes the earliest possible starting date for the year back to April 14.
Major League Baseball plans to cancel two more series, bringing the total to the first two weeks of the regular season, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 9, 2022
This round of negotiations went a lot like the previous one last week, with a marathon session of nearly 17 hours between the two sides making it appear as if there was some positive momentum toward getting a deal done. This optimism appeared to be more realistic as well, as both of them appeared to be making enough concessions to get within striking distance.
The two sides both moved closer together on their figures for the Competitive Balance Tax, the pre-arbitration bonus pool and the minimum salary, and they also appeared to agree on expanding the postseason to 12 teams rather than 14. These were areas that they were well apart on this time last week, so these numbers represented meaningful progress that has been hard to come by throughout this process.
The updated proposals from each side on the pre-arbitration pool and the CBT after union's last proposal.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 9, 2022
MLB: $40 million
MLBPA: $65 million.
MLB: $230M, $232M, $236M, $240M, $242M
MLBPA: $232M, $235M, $245M, $250M.
Much like last Wednesday, though, things stalled out near the finish line. The main sticking point this time around was the league’s insistence on the implementation of an International Draft, something that had been mentioned previously but had not come to the forefront of negotiations until Tuesday night. The owners tied this to the elimination of the qualifying offer in the free agency process, something that the players have been seeking as part of any deal for a while now, but the MLBPA was hesitant to make this tradeoff after consulting with Latin American members of its base.
The league gave the players three options regarding this impasse: accept the tradeoff as presented, continue with neither as part of any deal, or agree to a framework that would tentatively eliminate the qualifying offer and give the two sides until November 15 to hash out the specifics of the International Draft, with MLB getting the option to reopen the CBA in 2024 if they couldn’t come to an agreement in that regard.
The players, not wanting to reopen negotiations again after such a short time, offered a counterproposal that eliminated the qualifying offer for this season and gave the two sides until that November 15 date to strike a deal, with things returning to how they were previously (i.e: QO and international systems return to how they were in the last few seasons) if no agreement could be reached regarding the International Draft. The owners did not respond to this counter, though, and made the decision to cancel games shortly after.
The international draft became the latest stumbling block in collective-bargaining negotiations. The MLBPA made the last full proposal today, but MLB said it would discuss other issues only if the players agreed to one of three options. They didn't. MLB then canceled games.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 9, 2022
For the Angels, the cancellations means that their home series against the Astros on April 7-10 and the Marlins on April 11-12 will no longer be happening. These come in addition to the road series against the Athletics on March 31-April 3 and the Mariners on April 4-5 that were already scrapped last week, and it means that the earliest possible starting date is on April 14 on the road against the Rangers.
That day feels optimistic, though, with things likely to get even uglier now that the possibility of 162 games is officially off the table. Pay and service time considerations now must come to the forefront of the negotiations, adding an extra wrinkle to the already contentious process. The latter of those is especially relevant to the Angels, as Shohei Ohtani’s contract could potentially go on for an extra year if the players are not able to collect service time for the games that have been taken off the schedule.
it remains to be seen what will happen with that, but for now, all we can say for certain is that we won’t have baseball for at least another five weeks. Things appeared close enough to the point where cancelling games shouldn’t have been necessary, but that decision was made anyway, and all we can do now is wait.