Last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred cancelled the first two series of the 2022 season when the league and Players Association failed to come to terms on a CBA prior to an imposed deadline. One week later, with MLB attempting the same tactic, two more series were cancelled and Opening Day was moved to April 14.
There was some hope that the two sides had made progress in their negotiations. The competitive balance tax (CBT) thresholds being offered had moved closer and closer to a middle ground. The same could be said for minimum salaries, which finally saw significant upticks from the league.
The international draft became the latest stumbling block in collective-bargaining negotiations. The MLBPA made the last full proposal today, but MLB said it would discuss other issues only if the players agreed to one of three options. They didn't. MLB then canceled games.
Up until earlier this week, the inclusion of an international draft had not once been mentioned as a deal-breaking issue. Then — without warning — MLB attached the addition of a draft to the removal of the qualifying offer, something that had been previously agreed upon for weeks.
In a statement, Manfred expressed regret towards the cancellation of games, placing blame on the union for substantial proposals. “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.
“The Clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA. On the key economic issues that have posed stumbling blocks, the Clubs proposed ways to bridge gaps to preserve a full schedule. Regrettably, after our second late-night bargaining session in a week, we remain without a deal.”
Here, Manfred makes a very clear accusation, placing nearly the entirety of the blame on the players and preaching that the league had no choice but to go this route due to the unreasonable requests of the MLBPA.
Of course, this picture being painted by Manfred is very hard to believe. From the beginning, the players have done everything they can to reach a fair deal. And twice, the league has placed artificial deadlines as a means of shifting blame if a deal is not agreed to.
Reportedly, the league gave the players three options on ways to proceed with the international draft. When the players countered the three options with one of their own, the league refused to respond, instead cancelling games immediately.
This is another extremely disappointing day for fans of Major League Baseball. Hopefully, the owners will begin negotiating in good faith at some point, but it remains to be seen when that day will come.
With this cancellation of games and new Opening Day, home series against the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins are no longer on the schedule. Instead, if there are no further cancellations, the Los Angeles Angels will face the new-look Texas Rangers in Arlington on Thursday, April 14.