It’s official. Opening Day is postponed, and the first two series of the 2022 MLB season are canceled.
The owners and players still haven’t come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, three months after the league instituted a lockout at the beginning of December. Negotiations heated up over the past couple weeks, but it was too little too late, and now the season will be affected by the labor dispute.
“The calendar dictates that we are not going to be able to play the first two series of the regular season, and those games are officially canceled,” said commissioner Rob Manfred around 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday, per insider Mark Feinsand.
The Oakland A’s were scheduled to open at home against the Angels and then the Tigers, but those two series have been wiped out. As things stand now, the A’s will instead open April 8, on the road against the Phillies.
This bummer news comes after nine straight days of increased talks. The league had imposed a deadline of last night to save Opening Day, then they pushed it back one more day to this afternoon, but their latest proposal was rejected by the players today.
Here’s an idea of how communications are going between the two sides. Today’s offer from the league was billed as their “best, final offer” before the deadline. After it was rejected, Manfred claimed the league never said it was a best, final offer, per Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. But the MLBPA insisted the league even used those exact words several times, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. Sigh.
The Players Association released the following statement after Manfred’s announcement about canceling games:
Statement from the Major League Baseball Players Association: pic.twitter.com/rmpciPsQm4— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) March 1, 2022
“The reason we’re not playing is simple. A lockout is the ultimate economic weapon,” said MLBPA union chief Tony Clark, per John Shea of the S.F. Chronicle.
The league says they “thought that there was a path to a deal last night” but that the players had a change in tone today, while the players say their tone has been consistent throughout, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic. Pitcher Alex Wood commented on that narrative:
FWIW MLB has pumped to the media last night & today that there’s momentum toward a deal. Now saying the players tone has changed. So if a deal isn’t done today it’s our fault. This isn’t a coincidence. We’ve had the same tone all along. We just want a fair deal/to play ball.— Alex Wood (@Awood45) March 1, 2022
“FWIW MLB has pumped to the media last night & today that there’s momentum toward a deal. Now saying the players tone has changed. So if a deal isn’t done today it’s our fault. This isn’t a coincidence. We’ve had the same tone all along. We just want a fair deal/to play ball.”
The latest proposals from the two sides are still quite far apart on some key issues, per Drellich:
- Pre-arbitration bonus pool: $85 million, increasing $5 million per year
- Minimum salary: $725K, increasing $20K per year
- Competitive Balance Tax (2022-26): $238M/$244M/$250M/$256M/$263M
- Pre-arbitration bonus pool: $30 million (not sure about annual increases?)
- Minimum salary: $700K, increasing $10K per year
- Competitive Balance Tax (2022-26): $220M/$220M/$220M/$224M/$230M
In the meantime, Manfred expects that players will not be paid for any games canceled due to the lockout, reports Jayson Stark of The Athletic.
It’s been nearly three decades since MLB missed games due to a work stoppage, but that labor peace is long gone. There is no joy in Mudville.
This is a sad day for baseball.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 1, 2022