Despite suggestions that progress had been made on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the Players Association rejected MLB’s best and final offer prior to the league’s self-imposed deadline on Tuesday.
It prompted commissioner Rob Manfred to announce that Opening Day and the first two series of the regular season have been canceled. “Rob Manfred and MLB’s owners have cancelled the start of the season. Players and fans around the world who love baseball are disgusted, but sadly not surprised,” the union said in a statement.
“From the beginning of these negotiations, Players’ objectives have been consistent — to promote competition, provide compensation for young Players, and to uphold the integrity of our market system. Against the backdrop of growing revenues and record profits, we are seeking nothing more than a fair agreement.
“What Rob Manfred characterized as a ‘defensive lockout’ is, in fact, the culmination of a decades-long attempt by owners to break our Player fraternity. As in the past, this effort will fail. We are united and committed to negotiating a fair deal that will improve the sport for Players, fans and everyone who loves our game.”
That MLB went as far as canceling the first two series of the regular season isn’t surprising considering they previously made known their willingness to miss one month of games.
Although the league and union are said to be aligned on several topics such as the implementation of a universal DH and Draft lottery, a significant gap remains on key economic issues. Those include the competitive balance tax, pre-arbitration bonus pool, minimum salary and percentage of players that would qualify for Super Two status.
For the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the players are requesting $85 million while the league is offering $30 million. The sides appear to be closest on the minimum salary as the MLBPA proposed $725,000 with annual increases while MLB countered at $700,000 minimum salary and yearly raises.
NBPA voices support for MLBPA
As the MLB lockout continues, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) issued a statement in support of the MLBPA. “NBA players stand with our brothers at the MLBPA as they fight in collective bargaining for a more just and equitable system on behalf of current and future generations of professional baseball players,” the NBPA said.
“The MLBPA has a long history of sacrifice for the common good, and we have no doubt that despite yesterday’s announcement postponing the start of the regular season, the players and their leadership will work diligently and thoughtfully toward a fair deal that all baseball fans will appreciate, regardless of how long the process takes.”