I don’t want to drop this thing like a big dark dump on your doorstep, because there’s nothing in the latest report that should be particularly surprising to you at this point. Disappointing confirmation? Yeah. That’s what we’ll call it.
Talks between the players and the owners on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will begin again this month, but not on any of the things that really precipitated the lockout:
Sources: MLB, MLBPA unlikely to talk core economics until January. Meeting scheduled for tomorrow for non-core economics. https://t.co/jN4zXBdUVe
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 16, 2021
Ultimately, no one expects the sides to get into core economic issues – free agency, luxury tax, arbitration, etc. – until January, at the earliest, because there will be no economic pressure to do so (i.e., the looming threat of lost revenue in Spring Training (and I’m more worried about the threat of lost revenue in the REGULAR season being the real thing)). The sides view the current stasis as not particularly harmful to anyone, and I’d mostly agree: once the lockout started, the initial harm – to the fans – was done. Two or three more weeks of the same is not fundamentally going to change that harm. It’ll just make it a bit more frustrating.
Recall, the players made multiple offers on core economic issues before the CBA expired on December 1, but the owners reportedly would not make a counteroffer unless key topics like earlier free agency and arbitration were entirely off the table. That tells me the owners were very fine with initiating a lockout, and sitting on their hands for a long time, trying to wait out the players.
As for January, my guess is that the problem is going to be that everyone will still see February 1 as more of a “soft” deadline for getting a new CBA done than a firm deadline. If a deal were done by February 1, there would be two weeks available to wrap up the offseason transactions, for the most part, and then have players report to Spring Training as normally-scheduled in mid-February. But risking a loss of a “normal” timeline doesn’t really create the kind of pressure and/or leverage that these sides will probably need, sadly, to actually get a deal done. Instead, like I said, it feels like it’s going to require the risk of losing substantial revenue. And that risk won’t really be present until well into February and March.
In other words, while I will be interested to hear everything out there about the (minor issue) negotiations that take place this month, I grow all the more fearful that February 1 will arrive without a deal. I cannot see the gap being bridged over the course of, like, two late January weeks. It’s gonna take much more than that.