lThe expelled players turned down Major League Baseball’s request for a federal mediator to enter stalled labor negotiations, a move that largely eliminated any chance of a timely start to spring training and increased the threat of an opening day shutdown.
One day after MLB seeking help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Major League Baseball Players Association on Friday ruled out a third party trying to help the warring factions of a fractured sport.
“Two months after the lockout was introduced, and just two days after the counteroffer was made to the players, the owners refused to make a counteroffer and instead demanded mediation,” the union said in a statement.
“After consulting with our executive board and considering a variety of factors, we denied this request. The easiest way to a fair and timely agreement is to return to the negotiating table. The players are ready to negotiate.”
The owners blocked the players on December 2, just after the expiration of the five-year collective bargaining agreement. Since then, there have been only three negotiating meetings on major economic issues, on January 24-25 and last Tuesday, and the parties are still far from each other.
Players are upset that payrolls fell to $4.05 billion last year, the lowest in a full year since 2015. rules to prevent what they claim clubs are manipulating service times.
The teams say they will not expand arbitrage or reduce revenue sharing, and that intense luxury tax talks are the last stage of negotiations.
On Friday, the lockout began its 65th day ago and shows every sign that it is getting closer to the scheduled start of spring training on Feb. 16. With at least three weeks of training and exhibition games required, and players needing several days to report back to camps and go through COVID-19 protocols, March 31st Opening Day will be in jeopardy unless an agreement is reached by the end of February or early March.
There is little chance of negotiations next week when the owners are due to meet Tuesday through Thursday in Orlando, Florida. A leadership negotiating team is expected to come to Orlando for the session.
Baseball’s ninth hiatus was the first since a series of strikes and lockouts pushed the sport back from 1972 to 1995.
According to the latest Financial Disclosure Form filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Players’ Association awarded $5,000 in scholarships to its members out of $178.5 million in cash, U.S. Treasury securities and investments available on December 31, 2020.
There is a big difference in income among players. Of the 1,670 major league players last year, 1,145 earned less than $1 million, including 771 under $500,000 and 241 under $100,000.