Major League Baseball will begin canceling regular-season games if the league and the MLBPA can’t come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement by Monday, a league spokesperson said Wednesday.
The games would not be made up and players would not be paid full-season salaries, the spokesperson said.
“A deadline is a deadline,” the spokesperson said. “Missed games are missed games. Salary will not be paid for those games.”
It’s the first time MLB has publicly said it would shorten the season if a new deal isn’t reached by the deadline. The league first gave the players the Feb. 28 deadline two weeks ago and reiterated it to them Wednesday. Citing health concerns, the league said it wants about four weeks of spring training — hence its Monday deadline. Opening Day is scheduled for March 31.
The players have never acknowledged the deadline.
The sides remain far apart on a new agreement. The union is likely to pull expanded playoffs off the table if players aren’t paid a full season’s salary, according to sources familiar with the union’s thinking.
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The news came after five hours of negotiations Wednesday that included “vigorous” dialogue, according to sources familiar with the talks. The only new proposal of the day had the league slightly tweaking the minimum salary structure, offering $10,000 more than previous proposals. The union wants minimum salaries to begin at $775,000 next season; the league is now offering $640,000, with $10,000 raises for every year of the deal after that. The movement was viewed by the union as very minor, sources said.
The players were joined Wednesday by executive subcommittee members Andrew Miller, Zack Britton and Gerrit Cole for the first time this week. They joined committee holdovers Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor and Jason Castro in the meetings that have produced little progress toward a new agreement.
So far, after 13 hours inside Roger Dean Stadium, both sides provided tweaks to previous offers, including:
• On Monday, the league added $5 million to a proposed bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, now offering $20 million in it. The union wants $115 million.
• On Tuesday, the union reduced its ask for Super Two eligibility, requesting that salary arbitration come to players who rank in the top 75% in terms of service time among those who have between two and three years in the majors, down from a previous request of 80%. It was 22% in the previous CBA.
The sides have a lot of ground to cover to meet the league’s deadline. Disagreements on the competitive balance tax, revenue sharing, service-time manipulation and the draft are still unresolved. If the league holds to its timeline, there are only five days left before playing less than a 162-game schedule in 2022 becomes a reality.
The move to cancel and not make up games is a dramatic one by the league. Though the 1990 lockout extended into March, once an agreement was reached, the sides pushed back Opening Day by a week and extended the season by three days to get all the games in.
MLB is currently refusing to make up games this year with doubleheaders or lengthening the season on the back end. Some in the union believe both are still negotiable if the season doesn’t start on time.
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