Major League Baseball had previously announced that all spring training games through March 4th had been cancelled. As continued meetings to attempt to come to a new collective bargaining agreement while the owners lock out the players, MLB announced that all games through March 8th would now be cancelled as first reported by Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

This isn’t too surprising given that every day the owners keep the players locked out and unable to show up to work it’s another day on the back end that has to be pushed back, too. Of course all of this is happening because the owners instituted a lockout when they didn’t have to, but opted to do so in order to try and create leverage in negotiations between the two sides. Every sports organization has gone with this policy since 1994 due to the fear that the players would try to use a potential strike in-season as a leverage point.

While the MLBPA representation, as well as a handful of players have met with the MLB ownership representatives and a handful of owners, there hasn’t been much movement. On Friday it seemed that much of the talks revolved around the draft lottery. Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that MLB wants to tie changes in the draft to expanding the playoffs to 14 teams.

The players believe that creating a draft lottery for the top 7-8 spots will make tanking less likely to happen, so they are trying to get changes in how the top of the draft is determined. The owners seem to be on-board, at least a little bit, in allowing that to happen. But if they are trying to get that as a big way to get a 14-team playoff set up, that’s likely going to be a really tough sell. Allowing 14 teams in the playoffs instead of the current 10 means huge amounts of additional television money (and a solid amount of gate money) to the owners across baseball. It’s likely the biggest chip that the players have to offer up in negotiations and the draft changes are relative small potatoes compared to things like raising the minimum salary, the pre-arbitration pool amount, or the luxury tax threshold.

Major League Baseball has said that if a deal wasn’t reached by February 28th, which is Monday for those with a calendar nowhere near, then regular season games will start to be cancelled and that they will not be made up. That is a big thing in these negotiations. Players aren’t paid during spring training, so they really don’t start to feel any financial “pressure” until regular season games aren’t taking place. But the players also have said that if they aren’t paid for a full season then they will take off any expanded playoffs for at least the 2022 season – they have offered up a 12-team playoff expansion in negotiations (owners are asking for 14 teams at noted above).

The big thing there could be the wording of “paid for a full season” instead of “playing a full season”. Perhaps it was just the wording rather than the intent, but it’s worth keeping an eye on if and when regular season games start getting cancelled. I say “when” because if we’re three days away from “the deadline” and the biggest issues were seemingly not even discussed on Friday and the two sides are still quite far apart on those issues.

20 Responses

  1. CI3J

    Sounds like negotiations are going about as fast as a Russian tank out of fuel on a Ukranian highway.

    I kind of don’t care about this whole greedy billionaire melodrama anymore. I have zero hope any baseball will be played before May at this point, and maybe not at all this season.

    It’s sad to see the complete breakdown of any goodwill the owners may have had with the players AND the fans. They are holding our game and our pastime, hostage for their own bottom lines.

    So it’s whatever.

    I really wish the players could just band together and go on barnstorming tours around the country like in the old days. With social media, it would be easy to organize, and it would bring back the real spirit of the way the game once was. And can you imagine the hype and connection it could create? Players playing for the love of the game, sticking it to the big, bad one-percenters, and connecting with the fans in ways they never could before.

    I’m sure there’s hundreds of legal reasons why this could never happen, but boy, that would be something.

  2. LDS

    Never been a Manfred fan and nothing he and the ownership group has done thus far changes that. In the days of my youth, making the playoffs meant winning the division. It’s rapidly becoming show up and get a trophy. Shot clocks, expanded playoffs, speeding up games, universal DH, robo-umps, Sabermetrics, the shift, etc., none of these reflect positively on baseball. The continuing erosion of excellence and merit- based outcomes Money over performance. A sad day in MLB history.

    • Tar Heel Red

      I agree with you. At times it seems like he makes changes for change sake. In an article today he said he wants to institute a 15-second pitch clock. Seems like foolishness to me

  3. Bigbill

    Hate to say it but unless there is some type of salary cap and floor the game is going to die a not too slow death. I grew up in Cincy but it keeps getting harder and harder to follow small market teams as the deck is so stacked against them as far as resources. Big market teams reload. Small market teams hope that a plan comes together and many questions all work out.

    Kind of like we play fantasy draft and I get double or triple the amount of picks to fill out my roster and payroll while also getting a larger patrol to build my farm team.

    The NFL does it much better as does the NBA. Each team has a chance or at least can get close with one or two moves.

  4. Klugo

    As a fan, tanking is my biggest issue being negotiated in these talks. Draft lottery and expanding playoffs are steps in the right direction in this regard. Go ahead and shorten the season while you’re at it.

    • Doug Gray

      The draft lottery isn’t going to stop tanking. Tanking is far more about just cutting payroll and putting bigger profits in your pocket than it is about trying to get the #1 pick instead of the #6 pick. I really hope the MLBPA realizes this before it’s too late and they give up way too much in exchange for this draft idea.

      • Klugo

        Yeah that makes sense. This isn’t basketball. I like they, at least, have tanking on the radar. Keep the ideas coming because it’s sickening.

  5. TR

    If this baseball brou-ha-ha doesn’t get worked out soon, I’m going to get interested in Cincy’s third major league franchise, FCC, and learn more of the basics of soccer.

  6. Mjc

    Yeah, I don’t blame the players. There getting treated horribly! On there first day @ work/rookie there only getting a little over $570,000 a year. And the mlb avg salary is only a little over $4,000,000 per year. And only about 50 times has anybody gotten a 100 million dollar contract and that didn’t start until the end of the last century . Even though they feed you a nice meal after every game ,they expect you to be happy with an extra $100 plus for food every day. They want a fly you first class put you up in a 5-star hotel. And really want you to be content? And then they expect the players to play baseball for 2 1/2 hours in front of adoring fans. Blasphemy!!!!!

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      Agreed. I think we should think about the owners who have a legal monopoly, are seeing their revenue grow to above $11,000,000,000 per year now, while also seeing their franchise values continue to climb and the amount of money they pay the players decline by comparison to that revenue! It truly is blasphemous to think that when 62% of the league makes the league minimum that they should ask for some more money. How will Dick Monfort be able to afford a 5th private jet and a 3rd vacation home in the Alps?! Greedy players, indeed.

  7. Mjc

    If there’s such an abundance, why did the reds let go of there closer, best hitter , catcher and one of there best performing starters . Indicating and stating they couldn’t afford them. The owners can’t let the crew run the ship . They are the owners and they should make money . They are owners who are taken very good care of there employees . Who are ungrateful demand more and more.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      Nick Castellanos wasn’t let go, he opted out of his contract. Givens was a free agent, so they did not let him go either.

      As for trading away the other guys or placing them on waivers, it’s probably because the owner didn’t want to spend the money.

      And yes the people who work and produce every ounce of revenue should demand more and more. No one cares one ounce about what the owners do. You don’t come to Redleg Nation to read about what Bob Castellini and the Williams brothers did on Opening Day or on June 17th or on September 26th. You come to read about what Joey Votto and Jonathan India and Tyler Mahle did on those days.

      • Mjc

        Did i miss something Frankie? I didn’t think the reds resigned Nick Castellanos therefore lettering him go into free agency. There big money closer raisel Iglesias i thought they salary dumped him to the Angels.i thought they opted not to take on there catchers option .thus letting him go. And putting a very good picture on waivers letting him go to the cubs. That’s 4 pretty good players let go in a year over money. It’s a problem for the REDS and other small-mid market teams. Also you might want to do a little research before you post on here that 62% of the league make the minimum.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        You did miss something. Castellanos chose free agency and declined the Reds qualifying offer of $18MM.

        As for the research, here it is for you buddy: https://www.thescore.com/mlb/news/2226571

        “Consider that 63.2% of all players to step on the field in 2019 (the most recent year we have complete, full-season data from the MLBPA) had less than three years of service time. ”

        Maybe you should do some research. That is unless you were trying to correct me in that it was actually 63% instead of 62%.

        You also need to stop thinking that being cheap means you don’t have the money. The Pirates payroll was like $45MM. They got over $100MM from their local and national television deal last year (so did every other team in MLB, too).

      • Mjc

        You posted 62% makes mlb minimum. Take a moment and read your own misleading post . Then corrected with under 3 years service. Makes you invalid. Good day

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        You do realize that players make the league minimum in years 1, 2, and 3 unless they are a super 2 player and reach arbitration after their 2nd season don’t you? Well I mean you obviously don’t given your post. But here’s the news: They do make league minimum in years 1, 2 and 3.

        Learn some things before you try and tell people to do the research.

  8. Darrin

    I hope everyone screaming about the owners have the same opinion about every company in every industry.

  9. Mjc

    Last year major league minimum was $570,500 just on the reds alone there we’re 4 pre arbitration players . Im using the reds as an example because hopefully you can follow this . Kyle farmer -$640,000 Lucas Simms-$598,500 Jeff Hoffman-$585,500 Aristides Aquino -$ 579,000. Also @ random i looked @ the Mets payroll they had 5 pre arb players 1-3 years . All 5 of those players were getting more than the mlb minimum. So i again repeat do a little research before you post your misleading uninformed mistakes . P.s. i bet Frankie Tomatoes isn’t even your real name … lol …you even got your name wrong