MLB postpones games through April 13 as talks with union stall

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

TORONTO – Major League Baseball lopped another week of games from the 2022 schedule and postponed opening day until at least April 14 after negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement were tripped near the finish line by the international draft.

There was frustration and anger from both owners and players after another round of intensive discussions failed to end a lockout imposed by the league Dec. 2.

In a statement commissioner Rob Manfred lamented that though “clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA … we remain without a deal.”

Players, meanwhile, were furious that owners linked a counter-offer on core economics to the creation of an international draft, according to an industry source, suggesting the issue was “holding the deal hostage.”

The union believes it had been promised a full counterproposal that could be taken to a vote.

What comes next is uncertain but the industry source said the sides had been close before the international draft became a stumbling block.

Owners offered players three options Tuesday afternoon – proceed without an international draft and leave the qualifying offer system in place for free agents; accept a draft for the elimination of draft-pick compensation for qualified free agents; eliminate compensation with a deadline of Nov. 15, 2022 to agree on an international draft that if not met, gave owners the chance to reopen the CBA after 2024.

Beforehand, gaps had narrowed on the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, minimum salaries and pre-arbitration bonus pool, leading to the belief a full 162-game schedule would be rescued. All issues appeared bridgeable.

Instead, more games were lost and barring a sudden change in stance, the sides will also have to work through thorny issues such as a shortened schedule, 162-game pay and service time considerations.

“In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season, this week we have made good-faith proposals that address the specific concerns voiced by the MLBPA and would have allowed the players to return to the field immediately,” Manfred said in his statement. 

“Because of the logistical realities of the calendar, another two series are being removed from the schedule, meaning that Opening Day is postponed until April 14th.  We worked hard to reach an agreement and offered a fair deal with significant improvements for the players and our fans. I am saddened by this situation’s continued impact on our game and all those who are a part of it, especially our loyal fans.

“We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they will ultimately choose to accept the fair agreement they have been offered.”

In its own statement, the MLBPA said the league’s move Wednesday was “completely unnecessary.”

“After making a set of comprehensive proposals to the league earlier this afternoon, and being told substantive responses were forthcoming, Players have yet to hear back,” the union’s statement reads.

“Players want to play, and we cannot wait to get back on the field for the best fans in the world. Our top priority remains the finalization of a fair contract for all Players, and we will continue negotiations toward that end.”

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