This past week has brought more progress towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement than any week since the MLB imposed a lockout on players during the first week of December. However, that doesn’t mean too much, as the league and Players Association remain very far apart.
The only tangible signs of progress are the Players Association agreeing to drop a proposal that would have allowed players to enter free agency before six years, as well as a league proposal to eliminate the salary arbitration process for some players.
The league has also agreed to a bonus pool for top pre-arbitration players, though the dollar amount for that pool remains nearly $100 million apart between them and the Players Association. With all of that, a deal coming in the next few days seems extremely unlikely.
But that’s exactly what some believe need to happen in order to avoid delays to Spring Training, according to Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN:
Many in the industry believe an agreement needs to be reached by Feb. 1 in order for spring training camps to open on time.
Both sides have reportedly been preparing for this possibility through financial stipends for players and a new path forward in negotiations.
The union has prepared a “war chest” in case the lockout lingers. Players will receive $5,000 in the first week of February as well as the first week of March if a deal isn’t struck.
The sides next plan to work on a dozen non-core economic issues, in order to end the lockout as soon as the major points are agreed upon.
According to those industry sources, a deal would need to be completely agreed to by Tuesday of next week in order to ensure no delays to Spring Training. If they can’t do this, the schedule will start needing to be re-worked.
It was reported in the earlier stages of the lockout that negotiations would not pick up until there was a hard deadline. Feb. 1 appears to be the first true deadline that industry sources have placed on the discussions.
That could definitely explain the recent concessions made by both sides, as we sit just a few days away from a potential need to change the Spring Training schedule. Pitchers and catchers are slated to report sometime around Feb. 14, and only time will tell if that ultimately happens.
MLB Deputy Commissioner willing to miss games
While the preference remains to get a CBA done with enough time to not lose regular season games, for some, it may not be the end of the world if that doesn’t happen. MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem reportedly is willing to lose games to ensure a league-friendly CBA.