MLB finally announced the inevitable on Friday: Spring training and its games are officially delayed through March 5.
“We regret that, with a collective bargaining agreement in place, we must postpone the start of Spring Training games until no earlier than Saturday, March 5,” MLB released in a statement. “All 30 clubs are unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands.
“We are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to each side.”
The announcement comes one day after the owners and players’ union met in New York for 15 minutes to hear the players’ latest counter offer — which was quickly denied before the meeting was adjourned.
It was the latest failure in sputtering talks that has featured little compromise over the previous 78 days.
Setting the date at March 5 to begin spring training puts overwhelming importance on the owners and players striking an agreement no later than next week.
MLB needs a two-week offseason to finish off a free agency period that was severely cut short due to the owner-induced lockout on Dec. 2 — which is usually the very start of hot-stove season.
A three-week stretch is then needed for spring training to properly ramp the players up for the season. Starting spring training between March 6-8 would still be enough time for Opening Day to still be held on its originally scheduled date of March 31.
It appears as though the league senses the need for haste as it added that they and the players’ union will hold in-person meetings every day this week — the first time there will be meetings on consecutive days all winter — to try and strike a deal to start the season on time.
“MLB announced… that it ‘must postpone the start of spring training games. This is false,” the MLBPA released in a statement. Nothing requires the league to delay the start of spring training, much like nothing required the league’s decision to implement the lockout in the first place.
“Despite these decisions by the league, players remain committed to the negotiating process.”