MLB Lockout Day 99: OK, But *Now* Where Do Things Stand? (UPDATE: They Really Might Try Again Today)

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MLB Lockout Day 99: OK, But *Now* Where Do Things Stand? (UPDATE: They Really Might Try Again Today)

Chicago Cubs

Last chance if you want to keep the future history book embarrassment at double digits.

After a spectacular – and spectacularly nonsensical – implosion last night in negotiations, representatives for the owners and players kept on talking into the overnight period specifically about the international draft and the qualifying offer, even after MLB had invoked its own cut-off and cancelled another week of games. How and why did that happen? And why did they then keep talking? Well, MLB must have heard all those air quote jokes about “deadlines” and decided this time they really meant business:

In other words, MLB had set a 6pm deadline before they would cancel games. The players DID respond with a counter many hours before that deadline, but MLB then said the players first had to choose from among the three international draft/qualifying offer options before it would consider the players’ counter. But because the players didn’t offer their (reasonable) alternative approach until after 6pm, MLB moved forward with its cancellation.

From there, my guess is all hell broke loose behind the scenes in at least some quarters, and a couple leaders from each side got on a phone call and were like, “What in the sweet hell are we doing? We’re blowing this all up because of a 6pm deadline? About a decision to MAKE a decision? We should, uh, probably keep talking, yes?”

So they did. But let’s be clear: as far as the overnight reporting indicates, the parties involved in the talks were *not* negotiating the CBA, so whatever gaps existed there as of yesterday still exist as of today. And the games, in theory, still remain cancelled. What the parties were discussing late into the night was solely a variation of, how do we get past this damn international draft/qualifying offer issue for now so that we can get back to the CBA negotiation.

I wouldn’t, therefore, count myself any more optimistic this morning about an ASAP deal than I was last night. I might instead count myself slightly more optimistic that a deal could be possible next week, though I remain exceedingly wary about the looming backpay/service time fight being added to the mix (which is why I won’t blame anyone for desperately hoping against hope that a deal somehow comes together today and changes everything from last night … I just can’t bring myself to join you this morning).

Talks will resume – at some level – this morning, per reports, but it’s not entirely clear who will be involved and what the scope of those talks will be.

I thought Ken Rosenthal’s overnight take was the most instructive, as is often the case:

Among Rosenthal’s many thoughts:

“Yet, here we are, the parties forever trapped in their bubbles, seemingly unable to recognize they’re about to drive the game to the abyss. I will repeat, one last time: Not a single game should be lost, especially not over matters that initially appeared to be secondary concerns. And while the owners are mostly to blame for initiating the lockout and pulling one stunt after another in negotiations, the union had a chance Wednesday to accelerate the endgame. Instead, it chose to continue the fight.

All those core economic issues that have caused such handwringing throughout the 99-day owners’ lockout — they’re practically agreed upon. The parties are within range on the luxury-tax thresholds, on the pre-arbitration bonus pool, on the minimum salaries. Now all the negotiators must do is find a way to satisfy the league’s desire for an international draft and the union’s desire to eliminate the qualifying-offer system, but heaven forbid the parties accomplish that easily. Most Latino members vehemently oppose a draft, putting the union in a difficult — but not unmanageable — position ….

Every explanation by the union carries a certain logic, except when viewed in the bigger picture. The qualifying offer being tied to the international draft is the reason the union might miss at least two weeks of games? The dividing line that might leave players in a far worse position overall?

Yes, the owners are up to their usual tricks, trying to divide players. No, the players should not accept a deal they believe is unfair. But it’s the job of Clark and Meyer to weigh potential gain against potential pain, to persuade the players of the course that is in their best overall interest. If the international draft is such a problem, if the qualifying offer must be eliminated, find a workaround. And fast.”

UPDATE: They might try to salvage this thing, AGAIN, today:



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.