MLB Lockout Day 64: Mediation Requested, But What the Heck Happens Now?

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MLB Lockout Day 64: Mediation Requested, But What the Heck Happens Now?

Chicago Cubs

Today may prove to have been a pivotal one in the lockout, but not necessarily for the better.

Earlier today, Jeff Passan reported that MLB and its owners are seeking federal mediation to help resolve the CBA negotiations with the MLBPA. According to Evan Drellich, the request came in tandem with the owners declining to make a counter to the players’ latest offer earlier this week (despite previous indications that the owners WOULD counter, which tells me there was some in-fighting among the owners, though I’m just speculating).

So the big question now is whether the players will agree to mediation at this relatively early stage (the sides are SO far apart – and the owners wouldn’t even counter – that it seems pretty hard for a mediator to bridge that gap). If not, then what instead? The players can’t continue to be asked to negotiate against themselves, so this may be the moment where we see talks totally stop for a while. I warned (myself) that this was likely to happen several weeks ago, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if it happens. It’ll suck, though, because it’ll become a game of who blinks first, and I don’t know that either side is inclined to blink. It’ll mean the 2022 season’s length is definitely imperiled, if not the whole damn thing.

Each of Jon Heyman and Bob Nightengale suggest that the players are not likely to accept the offer to mediate, though it’s not clear if that’s based only on a very immediate reaction from a small number of players, or if that’s going to actually be the position of the players association. Generally speaking, I’d be way in favor of getting a neutral third party involved sooner rather than later, but it does seem premature to do it when, like I said, the sides are still so far apart. If the players’ conclusion was, no, it’s too early, please instead come back to us with a legitimate counter-offer, well, that seems reasonable given the way this has all played out.

Officially, the MLBPA is not commenting yet on the mediation request. Presumably, they want to talk it over for more than a few minutes.

Keep in mind, the owners are all meeting next week anyway, so who knows what that is going to bring. I don’t even know what timeline the owners were realistically hoping to get mediation started on – it’s possible they were hoping to get going on it immediately so they’d have something to discuss with all 30 owners next week, but that seems overly optimistic.

For now, we wait. Again. Maybe mediation kicks in soon, and maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t happen, and all of this just makes things worse.

There are a lot of reactions to, and theories about, the request for mediation. So let me just share some threads, including my own – there will assuredly be more coming. It can get complex pretty quickly, so the super short version is that there could be a number of reasons for MLB to seek a mediator at this point, ranging from a simple “hey we need help,” to a “we’re just trying to pressure to players,” to a “actually this is a legal maneuver so we can re-implement the old CBA.” No one knows for sure what MLB’s angle is yet, but everyone seems to agree that none of this is a great sign of where things stand right now.

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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.