Deja Vu All Over Again? CBA Talks Made Enough Progress Overnight to Delay the Cancellation "Deadline"

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Deja Vu All Over Again? CBA Talks Made Enough Progress Overnight to Delay the Cancellation “Deadline”

Chicago Cubs

Like last week, MLB set a deadline for a full 162-game season, and the sides seemingly treated it as a real thing with feverish back-and-forth negotiations into the wee hours.

Like last week, you could certainly detect crumbs of optimism from certain sources. And, like last week, the day and night passed with no deal, so the “deadline” was extended into the next day. That’d be today. This morning. Sometime. Tick tock.

Now the question is whether, like last week, everyone wakes up with a totally different understanding of where things stand, and the perceived distance between the sides is still too large to bridge in a few short hours. If that’s the case, it won’t take long to be able to tell, because the negative leaks will come out quickly in the mid-to-late morning hours (“The players still feel like …”, “MLB is frustrated …”, “Gaps still remain on key issues …”). What you’re hoping, frankly, is to hear that the sides have gotten back together and then hear almost nothing else.

If things turn ugly, though, it’ll be at least another week of regular season games cancelled, and unlike last time, I think MLB is going to really stick to that (i.e., it’ll fight not to make those games up later or include backpay) – which would make the next round of negotiations, whenever they took place, all the uglier. I will admit, last night’s owner offers seemed a lot more reasonable than I was expecting, so I let myself start to think maybe we wouldn’t see those next games of chicken, but I still don’t think you could call a deal today better than 50/50. Even that is probably too generous.

The reporting in the wee hours made it sound like the international draft remains one of the biggest sticking points. The owners really want it, for obvious reasons, and they are reportedly tying qualifying offer/draft pick compensation to it (i.e., if you want to ditch that stuff, you have to give us the international draft). With hard caps in place on the international side, giving up the draft isn’t as huge of a move as it once would have been, but it certainly does limit the future choices (and probably signing bonuses) of international amateurs. The flip side is that it probably does help do away with some of the seedier elements of the IFA process. On the whole, I don’t think I could be mad at the players for resisting the international draft, but I would have mixed feelings if it became the sole reason the deal blew up.

If you want to further check yourself and not be optimistic, you’ll note that Jeff Passan’s overnight write-up does not have an overwhelmingly optimistic tone, and he has been, by far, the most reserved commenter on where things stand (i.e., he just flat out will not say things look good unless he’s knows where things are going). Notably, it also includes word that the players “continued to balk” at the owners’ latest CBT proposal, which had moved the initial thresholds up quite a bit from their last offer, and looked like a key breakthrough last night. If that’s still not good enough, then things could easily fall apart today, regardless of the international draft.

It remains ridiculous and exasperating that things are to this point, knowing that all of this negotiating could have been done months ago if it weren’t the intention of the owners to create artificial pressure and risk chunks of the season. That is to say, while I like that it seems the owners are finally putting more reasonable proposals on the table, I hate that it’s only just now happening in March (and these proposals, by the way, still represent massive wins, overall, for their block). And the whole process to get there has risked so much damage to the sport – much of it already baked in, and then climbing precipitously from here if another week of games is cancelled, and the chances we don’t get a season until June climb dramatically right along with it.

The sides are closer to each other than they were a week ago. That much seems clear. But close enough to get a deal done today? I don’t think anyone can say for sure. Stay tuned. Guard your heart.


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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.