Major League Baseball and the Players Association met on Tuesday for 90 minutes in what was described as a heated meeting. In order to avoid any delays to Spring Training, it was believed that a deal was needed by Feb. 1, which came and went with only the 90 minutes of minimal progress.
Now, the two sides are left to pick up the pieces and figure out a way to avoid the regular season being delayed. Even though it’s been reportedly stated that the league is willing to miss games to get a favorable CBA, it’s hard to see that being the preferred outcome of these negotiations.
Given the amount of time needed to run a shortened Spring Training and ensure proper COVID-19 protocols, sources believe that significant movement on a deal is unlikely to take place in the next couple weeks, according to Ronald Blum of The Associated Press:
Given the lack of urgency in talks to end a work stoppage that began Dec. 2, both sides are behaving as if it is a foregone conclusion that spring training workouts will not start as scheduled on Feb. 16.
Players don’t start accruing salaries until the regular season, scheduled to start on March 31, making it unlikely there will be great movement until mid- to late February at the earliest.
A minimum of three weeks of training and exhibition games are needed to start the season, with additional time beforehand for players to report to training camps and undergo COVID-19 protocols.
As stated by Blum, the reason for the lack of urgency could be that both sides believe an on-time start to the season is still possible even if Spring Training doesn’t begin when it was supposed to.
Say a CBA is agreed to in the final week of February. Players could all report to Spring Training on March 1, spend seven days in COVID protocols, and begin games on March 8. Three weeks of games would take us to March 28, three days before the scheduled Opening Day of March 31.
While this would be far from ideal for players, it serves as a way for both sides to hold out as long as possible without needing to delay the start of the 2022 season. This could provide some hope for fans, but the reality remains that a delayed start feels likelier than ever.
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