Last week, MLB owners made most of the headlines when they said they wanted the intervention of a federal mediator to help solve the ongoing lockout.
Major League Baseball today requested immediate assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the sport’s lockout, sources told ESPN. Under their request, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would help assist with the proceedings.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 3, 2022
The union and the league have been negotiating for a while with the hope of writing a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), since the old one expired on December 1.
The petition for mediation wasn’t well-received by the Players Association, for various reasons.
First and foremost, the owners were the ones who initiated the lockout, preventing free agent players from finding new homes, and teams from trading and performing other MLB roster-related transactions.
It doesn’t make any sense that the entity that pursued and applied the ongoing lockout wants help to lift it.
Mediation Could Delay Things At This Point
Owners can lift it whenever they want, but they want to force players into accepting conditions they don’t agree with.
Secondly, mediation didn’t help too much during the 1994 players’ strike, and that’s what players are saying right now.
Additionally, as MLB pitcher Alex Wood recently wrote on his official Twitter account, having any third party entering talks could actually drag things along, at a moment in which direct conversations between the two sides and quick resolutions are needed.
“It would probably take 2 weeks just for an ‘impartial’ mediator to get caught up enough to proceed. They’d then use an already broken system/CBA as guideline toward a new deal. Makes zero sense for anybody. Players are ready to make a fair/mutually beneficial deal! #AtTheTable,” was Wood’s tweet.
It would probably take 2 weeks just for an “impartial” mediator to get caught up enough to proceed. They’d then use an already broken system/CBA as guideline toward a new deal. Makes zero sense for anybody. Players are ready to make a fair/mutually beneficial deal! #AtTheTable
— Alex Wood (@Awood45) February 4, 2022
The first thing that jumps to the eye is the way he wrote the word “impartial”, suggesting that players don’t trust the government to help them negotiate a fair deal.
Secondly, he does make a good point: the mediator will need time to review files, talks, and where each side currently is.
In short, the mediator would need to learn every detail of the negotiation in record time, and that’s just not feasible when training camps are scheduled to open in a matter of days.
The most important part of Wood’s discourse is that the hypothetical mediator would use “an already broken system/CBA as guideline toward a new deal”.
He means the person or entity entering talks as a mediator would use the old, recently expired CBA as the foundation of a new one, and players want to change many things.
Saturday Will Be A Crucial Day
Apparently, owners won’t pursue further mediation and gathered on Thursday to come up with a new plan to approach the situation.
They announced today that the universal designated hitter rule would be implemented in 2022, and draft pick compensation would be eliminated.
Likewise, Manfred confirmed that owners will make players an improved offer on Saturday, one that will include core economic issues.
Saturday will be a crucial day in CBA negotiations, and we will all find out whether Manfred was right or if he sends another lowball offer.
Manfred: "You're always one breakthrough away from making an agreement." Says MLB plans to make more changes to offer Saturday.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 10, 2022
At this point, indeed, there seems to be no way that a federal mediator helps matters.
He could actually complicate and stall things even further, and for it to happen, the approval of the Players Association is required.
It goes without saying that they reject any mediation attempt.