The 2022 MLB spring training schedule was announced in August 2021, and games are expected to start on February 26.
That is if CBA (collective bargaining agreement) negotiations result in a new deal soon.
MLB owners implemented a lockout on December 1, freezing any trades, free agent signings, and other transactions until a deal is reached.
Injured players can’t even rehab at their team’s facilities under the conditions of the lockout.
It’s not an ideal situation, and despite some good news this week, it has the potential to extend for a while.
On Tuesday, ESPN insider Jeff Passan reported that MLB and the Players Association plan on holding a new bargaining session on Thursday.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association plan to hold a bargaining session Thursday, sources tell ESPN. MLB is expected to make a core-economics proposal at the session, which would be the first between the sides since the league locked out the players on Dec. 2.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 11, 2022
It will be the first one since owners locked out the players in early December.
An Auspicious Start
MLB owners are expected, per Passan, to make a core-economics proposal.
It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s baffling that owners and players have come to this point with so much time to negotiate in 2021 and, especially, in December.
If there isn’t an agreement by early-to-mid February, there is a good chance the start of spring training is delayed.
Pitchers and catchers usually report in mid-February, but if there isn’t a deal by then, the start of spring training will be pushed indefinitely until there is a new CBA.
At this point, with so much to negotiate, it’s a not-so-distant possibility.
Owners want the salary and service time structure to stay the same or suffer minimal changes; with players starting free agency after six years of service time.
The MLBPA, on the other hand, say that earlier free agency would go best with a player’s prime, and it’s important for them to secure some significant earnings soon after seeing the bigs.
There are many additional differences between the two sides: proper conditions for minor league players (salary, housing, etc.), service time manipulation, and others.
Seeing the two sides reach an agreement after one or two rounds of negotiations is, frankly, unlikely, given the bad blood between them after the 2020 fiasco.
Owners and players, under special circumstances during the pandemic year, took months to agree on the conditions for a new season, which started in July.
Both sides surely have some resentment after those negotiations, which were ugly at times.
Consequences Could Be Ugly If Sides Don’t Find Common Ground
However, postponing spring training, and potentially missing games, would project a very bad image to fans and the world.
What happened in 2020 was, in many ways, understandable because the circumstances were unique.
However, missing games over a failed CBA agreement that both sides knew they would need to negotiate for years is just not right.
Perhaps both parties can hammer out their differences in two or three long rounds of negotiations and spring training starts as previously announced.
However, that may not be the most likely scenario at this point.
#RedSox announce Spring Training tickets will go on sale Friday morning. Whether or not a new CBA is reached and any of these games are played on schedule… remains to be seen. pic.twitter.com/1Zgfs2gBXM
— Mac Cerullo (@MacCerullo) January 11, 2022
Players seem determined to fight for what they think is right for them.
The same is true for owners, perhaps until the very last consequences.
The next couple of weeks are perhaps the most important ones of the offseason regarding the future of the 2022 season.
Let’s hope it’s all worthwhile when all is said and done.