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MLB postpones start of Spring Training games as negotiations over new CBA continue...

So the first few games of Spring Training have been postponed, but MLB and the MLBPA are set to meet again next week... every day apparently.

Washington Nationals v Houston Astros Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

In a press conference earlier this month from the owners’ meetings, Major League Baseball’s Commissioner Rob Manfred talked with reporters about the possibility of missing the start of the season with MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) still trying to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

With the current lockout, which began in early December, still in effect, it is getting close to the point where it is a distinct possibility that the start of the regular season will be delayed.

“I see missing games as a disastrous outcome for this industry,” Manfred explained, as quoted by New York Times’ reporter James Wagner, “... and we’re committed to making an agreement in an effort to avoid that.”

On Friday, however, MLB announced that they were postponing the start of Spring Training games until at least March 5th. It’s not regular season games yet, but it’s still not a good look.

“We regret,” MLB wrote in a statement, “that without a collective bargaining agreement in place, we must postpone the start of Spring Training games until no earlier than Saturday, March 5th. All 30 Clubs are unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands.”

“The clubs have adopted a uniform policy that provides an option for full refunds for fans who have purchased tickers from the Clubs to any Spring Training games that are not taking place. We are committed to reaching an agreement that it fair to each side. On Monday, members of the owners’ bargaining committee will join an in-person meeting with the Players Association and remain every day next week to negotiate and work hard towards starting the season on time.”

Predictably, the MLBPA responded shortly after MLB’s statement was released:

“MLB announced today that it ‘must” postpone the start of Spring Training games. That is false. 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.”

This is going great.

If you haven’t been following along since negotiations over a new CBA began, and since the lockout put the 2022 campaign in potential jeopardy, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal summed up the MLBPA’s side of the argument in a recent article we’ll link to below (a subscription will be required to read it, sorry):

A payroll floor, reaching free agency a year earlier, an increase in the minimum salary, early entry into arbitration-eligibility, the luxury tax threshold, a reduction in the years of control before a player must be added to the 40-man roster to protect them from selection in the Rule 5 Draft, and anti-tanking incentives, are all discussed in The Athletic article, and they are some of the changes that the MLBPA wants to be part of a new CBA. They’ll be getting together every day next week to try to come to an agreement. We already have the start of Spring Training games delayed... what’s next if they don’t reach a deal in the coming days or weeks? Do you expect the two sides to sort this out or will an announcement on the start of the regular season being delayed follow shortly?