There is no end in sight for the MLB lockout as Opening Day and the first two series of the season have been canceled, commissioner Rob Manfred announced after the owners and players were unable to come to an agreement on a new CBA after nine consecutive days of negotiations.
The league and its owners came with its best and final offer just before their self-imposed deadline, 5 pm ET Tuesday, only for the players to swiftly deny it.
Such events provided a hammer blow to hopes that the 2022 regular season will begin on its originally scheduled Opening Day of March 31 — an outcome that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred described as “disastrous” just two weeks ago.
But the two sides remained far apart on core economic issues — mainly the pre-arbitration bonus pool money for second-year players and the competitive balance tax (CBT) that dictates how much a team can spend on its roster without incurring penalties (fines, loss of draft picks).
There was initial hope entering Tuesday that the league and players were on the cusp of a deal after significant traction was reportedly made during a 17-hour negotiating session that spanned from 10 a.m. Monday to 3 a.m. Tuesday.
But after getting to their separate facilities at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL, the two parties remained apart for nearly two-and-a-half hours before players made an oral counter-proposal. Per reports, the players dropped their pre-arbitration bonus pool request to $85 million — down from the original ask of $105 million — though they were still quite a bit away from MLB’s last proposal of $25 million while their CBT proposal began at $238 million and incrementally increased to $263 million by 2026.
The owners increased their initial CBT to $220 million — a $6 million increase from its last offer — that would gradually increase to $230 million by 2026 in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Optimism began to dip approximately two hours before MLB’s deadline as multiple reports suggested that there would be difficulty finding a resolution before 5 p.m. ET — a disappointing follow-up after prior talks offered a glimpse of hope.
“We thought that there was a path to a deal last night and that both sides were closing on in on the major issues,” an MLB spokesperson told Evan Drellich of The Athletic. “They couldn’t make us a CBT proposal last night so we agreed to extend the deadline to exhaust every option.
“The MLBPA has a decidedly different tone today and made proposals inconsistent with the prior discussions.”
A players’ union spokesperson rebutted, stating that the two sides “were always far apart on major issues. It was MLB’s optimism they were pushing. That was ‘ridiculous,'” per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.
During that marathon negotiating session — and as the calendar flipped from February to March — the league and players agreed on a 12-team playoff structure rather than the 14-team field MLB was looking for. Under such parameters, the top two teams in each league would get a first-round bye while the other eight teams would play a best-of-three first-round series.
[For what it’s worth] MLB has pumped to the media last night and today that there’s momentum toward a deal,” San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood tweeted. “Now saying the players’ tone has changed. So if a deal isn’t done today it’s our fault. This isn’t a coincidence. We’ve had the same tone all along. We just want a fair deal/to play ball.”