As December rapidly approaches, the likelihood of a labor stoppage becomes increasingly likely. Major League Baseball has until December 1st to reach an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between its players and owners – a deal that, to this point, seems unlikely to be completed by then.
Failure to do so would almost certainly lead to a lockout by the owners, which would put a halt to all offseason transactions until a new deal is put in place.
During the conclusion of baseball’s winter meetings on Thursday, commissioner Rob Manfred spoke on the current status of negotiations between players and owners.
“We will not — did not make today, and will not make a decision as to what’s next,” Manfred said. “We’re focused on making an agreement prior to Dec. 1.”
If this doesn’t sound like a positive development, it’s because it isn’t. With less than two weeks before the current deal expires, baseball fans around the world are waiting to see what comes next in this never-ending dispute over who has more control.
It’s hard to blame fans for doubting the ability of both sides to come together, especially after the fiasco that was the start of the 2020 baseball season. With so much hanging in the balance during a pandemic year, the owners and players could not come to terms on what was deemed an acceptable return to play proposal. Instead, Rob Manfred was forced to execute a shortened season to try and salvage what could have been a lost year. If the same level of stubbornness will come into play during the next few weeks, we could be in for a long offseason filled with uncertainty.
It’s worth noting that not reaching an agreement would only hurt everyone involved, which should give enough incentive for things to be resolved before the start of the season. As far as Manfred is concerned, there is still time to find a compromise before the deadline in two weeks.
“We understand, I understand, that time is becoming an issue,” Manfred said. “That’s a challenge. We’ve had challenges with respect to making labor agreements before and we’ve got a pretty good track record of overcoming those challenges. I can tell you from the clubs’ perspective, we’re committed to continuing to offer proposals and suggestions in an effort to get to an agreement before Dec. 1.”
Manfred has every incentive to bridge the divide between the players and owners. What remains to be seen, however, is how successful he will be with the two sides so far apart. It’s still extremely unlikely that the 2022 baseball season is delayed due to a potential lockout, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be one at all.