The day after Major League Baseball started canceling games, the question of when negotiations can resume so more won’t be went unanswered on Wednesday.
What was certain is the damage from Tuesday’s announcement by commissioner Rob Manfred to call off the first two series of the season is real, and the wounds are fresh.
Mike Trout, the best player in baseball the last decade, ended his relative silence on the labor unrest by issuing a strongly worded statement on social media which signaled the players are prepared to wait as long as it takes to strike a favorable deal with the owners.
”Regarding the MLB lockout: I want to play, I love our game, but I know we need to get this CBA right. Instead of bargaining in good faith — MLB locked us out. Instead of negotiating a fair deal — [commissioner] Rob [Manfred] canceled games. Players stand together. For our game, for our fans, and for every player who comes after us. We owe it to the next generation.”
Regarding The MLB Lockout: pic.twitter.com/QQUC1pWr5F— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) March 2, 2022
Wednesday marked Day 91 of the lockout imposed by MLB on Dec. 2. The Players Associations for the NBA, National Women’s Soccer League, and Major League Soccer issued public support for the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The prospect of another week with no deal looks like a safe bet, and would mean an on-time celebration of the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line with the Dodgers on April 15 will prove impossible.
MLB maintains 30-31 days are needed after a settlement is reached to stage a spring training and begin the season.
On Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla., nine consecutive days of face-to-face talks ended with Manfred making good on a vow to start canceling games if no deal was struck before 5 p.m., followed by a show of dismay and solidarity from the players in their own press conference.
The sides each thought progress had been made on Monday, but MLB’s measuring stick was much more generous than the MLBPA, which maintained all along the sides were still far apart.
Whenever the sides do re-engage, they will be left to re-assess assorted packages of conditional proposals on items ranging from competitive balance tax thresholds, expanded playoffs, an international draft, minimum salaries, pre-arbitration bonus pools, plus new ones created by the strife.
At Tuesday’s press conference, MLBPA chief negotiator Bruce Meyer said the locked-out players will seek payment and service time for games canceled by the league, adding one more contentious point to the pot. (Players aren’t paid during spring training under normal circumstances.)
The union has been preparing for lean times since the last CBA was finalized by withholding licensing fees from items such as trading cards. Anyone on a 40-man roster or a major-league agent who applied for a stipend got $5,000 on Feb. 1, then another $5,000 on March 1. On April 1, the day after the originally scheduled Opening Day, the stipend goes up to $15,000.
Players also have the option to not apply for a stipend.
Michael Silverman can be reached at email@example.com.