Major League Baseball has announced that it will be cancelling one more week of games in the season if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Tuesday night. The MLBPA and owners are still negotiating, but there have been no signs of progress since the last contract was signed on December 27th. This comes just weeks after 2 other games were cancelled because players decided to hold out for salary increases.
Major League Baseball has announced that they will cancel another week of games if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Tuesday night. The current CBA expires on December 15th, and the league needs to reach an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association before then in order to avoid cancelling the rest of the season. Read more in detail here: when does the mlb season start.
11:00 p.m. ET
ESPN’s Jeff Passan
- MLB insider on ESPN
- Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity,” “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity”
According to sources familiar with the situation, Major League Baseball plans to cancel another week of regular-season games if it cannot reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association by Tuesday night, adding another layer of pressure to already tense negotiations as the league’s lockout approaches its 100th day.
The league set Tuesday as the deadline for a 162-game season and full compensation and service time for the players, ratcheting up the pressure to reach a labor agreement. Even after MLB postponed the first week of the season, the union has maintained that 162 games of salary and service time are essential to any agreement, and it has threatened to withhold expanded playoffs if they are not included.
While anticipation for the scheduled in-person meeting on Tuesday was cautious, both sides know that the difficult labor discussions might hit a snag if MLB cancels another batch of games, causing pay and service to become another potentially thorny issue.
The league narrowed the divide on the competitive-balance tax in a proposal released on Monday, which was the main point of contention between the parties leading up to the league’s postponement of games on March 1. According to insiders, MLB’s offer raised the initial CBT threshold from $220 million to $228 million, remaining short of the $238 million request made by the union in its written response to the league’s prior offering on Monday. The CBT plan’s increase to $238 million in the fifth year of a prospective contract remained a sticking point for players, according to sources, whose proposal seeks a $263 million initial barrier in 2026.
The Athletic initially reported on MLB linking Tuesday to full pay and service, which adds a long-anticipated pressure point to discussions. While the parameters of any collective bargaining deal may be bargained, the threat of eliminating full pay and service from future offers, as well as the possibility of extending the playoffs from 10 to 12 or 14 teams, gives Tuesday’s negotiations more weight. If an agreement is not reached by Tuesday, the difficulties in reaching one in the future may become more tough.
At the same time, it stated that the postponement of games meant there would be no make-up games or compensation for missed pay and service before the league’s penultimate deadline on Feb. 28 — which was moved up to March 1 — MLB has eased its position, saying on Monday that if a settlement is reached on Tuesday, players would be able to report to spring training camps on Friday, and missed games will be made up on off days and with doubleheaders.
The severity of the negotiations was reflected in the secrecy of Monday’s meetings and both parties’ eagerness to keep offers from seeping out, according to insiders. Despite recent advances on ideas including as a minimum salary, extended playoffs, and a draft lottery, there is enough distance between the two sides to curb optimism about an agreement being achieved Tuesday, according to sources.
The capacity to bridge gaps in one day might prove too large for a deal, given the CBT, the size of the bonus pool, and the league’s demand for a 45-day window to enact on-field improvements. Furthermore, any agreement between MLB and the MLBPA must be approved by both the owners (who must approve a contract with 23 of the 30 clubs) and the players.
The discussions, which started over a year ago, have been tense, with little progress made until the league locked out the players on December 2. The excitement that arose during the nine-day negotiation session in late February was short-lived, as the players rejected a league proposal that would keep the CBT at $220 million for the first three seasons of the contract.
After taking down spring training games, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred postponed the opening week of the season on March 1. Without a settlement on Tuesday, the season’s second week — and maybe many more — might be jeopardized, while the slow tango toward a compromise that would bring baseball back gives a glimmer of optimism in what has been a wasted spring.
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