Arizona Asks to Delay the Start of Spring Training, and, Welp, the Fighting is Back

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Arizona Asks to Delay the Start of Spring Training, and, Welp, the Fighting is Back

Chicago Cubs

It might just look like another article about future plans and the schedule for the season. And, with all due respect to Ken Rosenthal, it *is* that. His latest is worth reading, as as always. But the content between the content, and the timing as aligned with a letter from Arizona has me thinking it’s much more.

Here’s the letter, just released out of Arizona:

As a matter of public health, this is a completely appropriate request. The situation might look completely different if the league just delays the start of Spring Training by a month or so. But MLB cannot unilaterally delay the start, since it’s in the CBA. As Arizona no doubt knows. So this request would be mighty handy for MLB if, for example, they wanted to force the players to the negotiating table.

OK. Put a pin in that request, and turn to the Rosenthal article, which dropped at basically the exact same time.

To my eye, a couple sections leap out – via sources – and they tell me all I need to know about what’s coming: more public fighting about money at a time when the sport needs anything but. So good luck with that, baseball. You’ve done a stellar job shooting yourselves in the foot so far over the past year+, and with the CBA expiring this year, we all know what’s next.

First, here’s the article:

Ostensibly about the timing of the season, the article reminds you that EVERYONE would be best served pushing things by a month, but that will lead to fights about money, and neither the players nor the owners are particularly interested in being reasonable in those disputes at this point.

For example, consider this:

On Dec. 18, the league made a broader proposal, sources said.

In addition to adopting the universal DH, the league offered to resolve two service-time grievances from last season in the union’s favor as well as increase the guarantee the players would get for an expanded postseason, from $50 million last season to more than $80 million, the amount they received the last time parks were fully open to fans, in 2019. The proposal also included a variety of other on-field components, including the introduction of a pitch clock, a change the league has long desired, plus an automated strike zone in spring training ….

A typical negotiation includes offers and counter-offers, but the league’s proposal did not lead to further discussion. Only last week, after deputy commissioner Dan Halem contacted the union’s chief negotiator, Bruce Meyer, did the league learn that the union had rejected its offer, and that the union would not counter it.

The union had told the league not to propose expanded playoffs, and saw no reason to discuss matters further once the league made it clear that expanded playoffs were necessary to any deal, sources familiar with the union’s position said.

That is, of course, a completely unreasonable approach by the players … but it comes in response to a years’ worth of unreasonable approaches by the owners, up to and including the offer to trade the universal DH for expanded playoffs.

Throw in the fact that it’s clearly coming from a league source who wants this out there in the public, and we’ve got our first sign of fighting: a sourced leak that attempts to make the players look bad. This is how it started last year, too. This will only get uglier from here.

As to the substance of the coming 2021 fight (to say nothing of 2022 and beyond), I’m already sick of it. The league and its players can clearly help themselves grow the available pool of dollars by pushing the season back a bit, by adding the DH, by expanding the postseason, and by agreeing to share a reasonable portion of the added revenue with the players. Yeah, the nitty gritty is complicated, but the gist is not. The gist is exceedingly simple, and it winds up being made complicated because you have so many competing interests within the two should-be-negotiating parties.

But instead of that, they’ll just continue on this course – the owners know they have no real leverage here, since the CBA is still in place for 2021 – and everyone will be worse off for it, *AND* everyone will be angrier heading into the next CBA negotiations.

Read Rosenthal’s full piece for the additional background and context, and then brace yourself for the coming explosion. My guess is the Grapefruit League makes its request soon, and then MLB says, ah, but we can’t delay without an agreement with the UNREASONABLE AND MONSTROUS PLAYERS ASSOCIATION.

You just watch. It’s coming.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.