MLB Cancels Two Additional Series; No Deal Yet
Last Tuesday was the drop-dead deadline for MLB and the MLBPA to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement. Then the new drop-dead-but-we-can-figure-out-how-to-play-162 deadline was Tuesday night. Then Wednesday. But yesterday afternoon, MLB announced that they were canceling two more series, making Opening Day no sooner than April 14.
So are they serious this time?
Negotiations of course happen between the two parties in private. But based upon what has leaked through the media through reporters such as Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, most financial issues seemed to be at the very least approaching consensus. In terms of numbers for the Competitive Balance Tax, minimum salaries, and the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the numbers seem to have landed around the middle of original proposals.
But the new entry that seem to kill the deal: the implementation of an international draft.
Currently, players from Latin America are signed as free agents, starting at age 16. However, there are some issues that have been widely reported, such as the prevalence of Buscones, predatory agent-type representatives that take a high percentage from the talented baseball players. But these issues are complicated issues that will not be resolved in the last minute of a negotiation.
MLB had reportedly tied having an international draft to the elimination of the qualifying offer system.
The qualifying offer system for free agents attaches draft picks to free agents. This has led to teams avoiding free agent players with draft pick compensation attached. Players argue that this does not really make it a true free agency for players.
Janes reported Wednesday morning that the two sides will re-engage:
As of late last night, my understanding was that the negotiators for both sides had paused to get some (frankly much needed) sleep. The expectation was that talks about the international draft issue would continue today in the hopes of clearing a way to a deal.
So it sounds like MLB wants to hang their hat on this very complicated issue.
Had a deal been reached yesterday, Spring Training would have begun on Friday, with Opening Day taking place around April 6 or April 7. Now? Who knows.