MLB Season Delayed as Players Reject Latest Offer

No one will be calling “Play ball!” on March 31.

Major League commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the first two series of the regular season have been canceled after the league and the Major League Baseball Players Association failed to strike a collective bargaining agreement before Tuesday’s league-imposed 5 p.m. ET deadline.

The union unanimously rejected what MLB deemed its “best offer” for the sides to salvage a March 31 Opening Day.

“I had hoped against hope I wouldn’t have to have this press conference where I am going to cancel some regular season games,” Manfred said Tuesday afternoon. “We worked hard to avoid an outcome that’s bad for our fans, bad for our players and bad for our clubs. Our failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort by either party.”

This is the ninth work stoppage in MLB history, and 2022 becomes the first MLB season since 1995 to lose games over a work stoppage. The Athletic and ESPN previously reported that the owners suggested to players they were willing to cancel up to a month’s worth of games.

The union released a statement ahead of their press conference, accusing the owners of trying to dismantle the union.

“Players and fans around the world who love baseball are disgusted, but sadly not surprised,” the statement read. “What Rob Manfred characterized as a ‘defensive lockout’ is, in fact, the culmination of a decades-long attempt by owners to break our Player fraternity. As in the past, this effort will fail.”

Tuesday marked the ninth straight day of negotiations between the owners and the union in Jupiter, Fla. MLB extended its original deadline of Monday to get an agreement done.

Rob Manfred
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

‘Decidedly Different Tone’

The league released a statement earlier Tuesday afternoon, citing “a decidedly different tone” from the union since Monday night’s talks.

“We thought there was a path to a deal last night and that both sides were closing in on the major issues,” MLB told outlets. “The MLBPA has a decidedly different tone today and made proposals inconsistent with the prior discussions. We will be making our best offer before the 5 p.m. deadline that’s a fair deal for players and clubs.”

That best offer, according to ESPN:

  • Competitive balance tax, or luxury tax, of $220 million in the first three years of the deal to $230 million in Year 5.
  • A $5 million increase in pre-arbitration bonus pool to $30 million.
  • An increase of $25,000 for league minimums to $700K per year, moving up $10K per year after.

The MLBPA’s previous offer still leaves the sides with major gaps.

According to ESPN, the union’s previous offer was:

  • CBT starting at $238 million in Year 1 to $263 in Year 5.
  • Bonus pool starting at $85M with $5M annual increases.
  • Minimums starting at $725K and going up $20K per year.

“MLB has pumped to the media last night and today that there’s momentum toward a deal,” pitcher Alex Wood said in a tweet. “Now saying the players tone has changed. So if a deal isn’t done today it’s our fault. … We’ve had the same tone all along.”

USA Today reported Monday night that the two sides agreed to an expanded 12-team postseason and the owners agreed to a luxury tax similar to the system in place in the previous CBA.

It’s unknown when the two sides will return to the table and try to solve the lockout. Manfred said that no deal could be reached before at least Thursday with the union members heading back to New York.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)