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MLB To Begin Canceling Regular Season Games If Lockout Deal Is Not Reached By Feb. 28

Major League Baseball will begin canceling regular season games if the league and the MLBPA cannot agree to a new collective bargaining agreement deal by Monday, Feb. 28, a league spokesperson said Wednesday.

The spokesperson confirmed that not only will missed games not be made up, players would not be paid for any potential games canceled. “A deadline is a deadline. Missed games are missed games. Salary will not be paid for those games,” the spokesperson said. The news comes after the two sides met for the third straight day Wednesday, a first during the lockout.

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The league will not cancel certain games but instead just start by chopping the early slate of games, which kick off March 31, and move from there. The season would pick up whenever spring training — which MLB wants to be four weeks long due to health concerns — ends, with teams playing the games that were scheduled for that time.

At the start of the 2021 season, the average MLB player’s salary was $4.17 million, which equals to around $25,740 per game. Depending on how many games are cancelled, players could be looking at losses in the six figures. While MLB doesn’t plan on adding more doubleheaders or lengthening the second-half of the season, some believe this could be negotiable.

MLB had previously alerted players of the deadline two weeks ago, while the players never acknowledged it. Sources told ESPN that the union will pull MLB’s desired expanded playoffs — which would feature feature 12 to 14 teams instead of 10 —off the table if players aren’t pulled a full season’s salary.

While efforts have clearly been amplified in recent weeks, a deal still appears to be far apart with a number of issues, from revenue sharing to a draft lottery, still need addressing. Sources noted the only new proposal Wednesday was changing the minimum salary offer by adding an additional $10,000. The union wants $750,000, while the league is offering $640,000 with a $10,000 raise every year after.

According to ESPN, a number of changes have been made by both sides on previous offers. The league added $5 million to a proposed bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, bringing the total pool to $20 million. The union wants $15 million.

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Meanwhile, the union reduced their demand for Super Two eligibility, asking that salary arbitration comes to players who rank in the top 75% in terms of service time among those with two to three years of playing in the majors, down from the previous asking point of 80%.

Missed games would be a tough scenario for a league that was only able to play 60 out of a possible 162 games two seasons ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There could also be serious ramifications in terms of how parity plays out. For example, the St. Louis Cardinals’ first nine games feature two division opponents — the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs — with seven against the Pirates.

Pittsburgh is coming off a 61-101 season, and is expected to continue to remain a division bottom-dweller. Those seven games could not only result in four or five wins lost for St. Louis, but their division rivals would end up playing them more times, giving them an easier schedule and an advantage over the Cardinals – a factor that’ll no doubt be apparent come the playoff push in Sept.

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As Major League Baseball Continues To Negotiate A New CBA, Is A Lockout On The Horizon?

Despite the Atlanta Braves capping off the 2021 season with a World Series victory, the games are just beginning for Major League Baseball. On Dec. 2, the collective bargaining agreement — frequently referred to as the CBA — is set to expire, and many believe the league will be heading to its first stoppage in 26 years.

According to the Associated Press’ Ronald Blum, while negotiations between MLB owners and the MLB Players’ Association (MLBPA) have been taking place since last spring, each side believes the other has not made a proposal that would bring in a new CBA contract by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1.

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The stoppage would come at a crucial time, as free agents — which include stars such as Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, and Max Scherzer — would be left in a flux, and their agents aren’t quite sure what to expect. Blum explained MLB could start a signing freeze at the beginning of the lockout, or let the marketplace stop on its own.

Among the changes teams have suggested in proposals leading up to now include getting rid of salary arbitration — the yearly process where clubs and players negotiate a higher or lower salary based on recent comparable players and contracts — and allowing players to hit free agency after the age of 29 1/2, instead of after six years of service.

Meanwhile, propositions made by players include establishing mechanisms — such as a modified draft order and a revenue sharing system — that prevent teams from “tanking,” changing the way service time is calculated, increasing the minimum major league salary (which currently sits at $570,500), and changing the years required for arbitration eligibility from three to two.

Players also want payrolls to be taxed over $210 million while including surtaxes, and have rejected a payroll floor over the fear of a salary cap introduction. Blum notes that management’s proposal for the threshold to be lowered to $180 million could be a gridlock in many free agent negotiations.

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While the lockout could cause chaos in free agency, there isn’t any concern that games could be missed in either spring training or the regular season, which is still six months away. However, depending on how long the lockout lasts, teams could be forced to hurry up their typical offseason schedules and procedures.

In 2021, the average player salary was $4.17 million, and is projected to be down around $3.7 million on opening day of 2022. Meanwhile, the average MLB team’s payroll in 2021 was $99,423,297.

MLB hasn’t had a work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike, when the last 50 games of the regular season and the postseason were cancelled – however, there have been close calls when it’s come to CBA agreements deadlines.

Fans have also questioned MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s job security as the league heads towards a likely freeze. CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry explains that the only way Manfred — just the 10th MLB commissioner ever – could lose the role is if he loses money for owners.

While highly unlikely, this could happen through multiple situations, such as “failing to maintain or carve out new economic territory” during CBA negotiations or in a new agreement.