TODAY:Thursday’s discussions covered topics including PED policies, joint domestic violence/sexual assault/child abuse policy, special events, grievance procedures and planning, writes Jesse Rogers from ESPN.com.
DEC. 15: Since Major League Baseball instituted a lockout in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, there has been little known back-and-forth between the league and the MLB Players Association. Athletic’s Evan Drellich reports tonight that teams aren’t expected to discuss the basic economic structure of the game until January. The parties have been in contact on other issues, however, and are expected to meet in person tomorrow to discuss issues outside of the basic economy.
Disagreements related to basic economics are among the most important and contentious issues to be resolved. Topics such as service time structure, playoff expansion and competitive balance tax are among the areas of import for both sides that could be difficult to iron out. Agreeing on the basic economic structure figures to take enough time to negotiate, and that the parties won’t even address the issues until January is the latest confirmation that the lockdown figures will hang around for quite some time.
In the aftermath of the lockout, Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA Chief Negotiator Bruce Meyer publicly expressed their willingness to continue negotiations. Yet Drellich learns that neither side began talks over the basic economy in the nearly two weeks that followed, even as they engaged on less contentious issues.
However, there doesn’t seem to be much conviction that meetings on the basic economy before January would do much good. Drellich hears from people on both sides of the talks who suggest that a meeting in the days or weeks ahead would likely only have resulted in negotiators “saying the same things over and over again.”
As Drellich points out, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of urgency for either side to drop their original demands at this point in the schedule. During the winter months, owners don’t lose gate revenue while players don’t lose game checks. Major league transactions are frozen, but that doesn’t seem to be enough motivation for either side to amend their negotiating positions.
The league owners are clearly content to wait for the deal freeze, having voted unanimously to lock players in when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, meanwhile, suggested to reporters Dec. 2 that the freeze would not affect players’ bargaining resolution. “Players consider (the lockout) unnecessary and provocative“, Clark said at the time. “The lockout won’t pressure or intimidate players into a deal they don’t think is fair.
It’s possible that both sides will start to feel more pressure to come closer to a deal as the scheduled start of spring training nears. As it stands, the first exhibition matches are scheduled to start on February 26, 2022. Of course, players will need time to show up and get in shape before jumping straight into the game. Immediately after the lockdown, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggested the sides viewed Feb. 1 as a “soft deadline” for a deal to be reached in order to avoid disruptions to spring training.