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February 23 labor update: Owners threaten cancelled games with no pay

Minimal updates to minimum salary, CBT remains untouched.

MLB: Contract Negotiations
New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer, left, former MLB player Kevin Slowey, center, and former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller arrive for MLB contract negotiations at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. on Feb. 23, 2022.
The Palm Beach Post-USA TODAY NETWORK

Unfortunately, I’m back yet again with more bad lockout news: You guessed it, no deal!

Now did we really go into today thinking the owners would come to their senses and make an actual, good-faith offer? No, not one bit. And if you’re wondering if they made any traction towards a deal, no, they did not!

To make things even worse, after the meetings concluded an MLB spokesperson reminded everyone that without reaching a deal by February 28, the 2022 season will be delayed, games will be lost, and players will not be paid.

The league has already made similar comments regarding the February 28 deadline, though they haven’t been as snarky or dramatic about it until now, attempting to shift blame onto the players once again. The league waited for more than a month prior to initiating contact with the players, and needlessly locked out the players to begin with, so how is the league exactly a victim in this situation?

Players continue to fire back on Twitter, including St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty and San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood, seemingly fed up with how MLB has handled the entire lockout — and noting the threatening tone of canceling games and withholding pay.

The players remain a united front, dedicated to negotiating in person and getting a deal in place, with strong representation from MLBPA executive subcommittee members led by Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor. They have been modifying proposals and attempting to make concessions to get the ball rolling, and the league pretty much refuses to budge on every financial topic. Seems pretty hard to reach an agreement like that.

After five hours of meetings on Wednesday, the sole update was MLB responding to the proposal the union provided on Tuesday in regards to league minimum salary. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that the league had increased its previous salary offer by $10,000 per year, bringing the minimum salary for 2022 to $640,000 and increasing it to $680,000 by 2026. It is worth noting that the two sides are now $135,000 apart, per player. And this is just league minimum salary, which is a relatively small issue. The elephant in the room, the CBT, hasn’t been touched. The pre-arbitration bonus pool continues to hit a road block. As Jeff Passan recapped, the two sides remain vastly far apart on numerous issues.

MLB and the MLBPA have met for 13 hours this week and have made hardly any progress, so the new question becomes: “How many games of baseball will we actually get?” After five hours today, there was only one small update. It doesn’t even feel like the owners care whether or not games start on time, as long as they don’t “lose” to the players. I mean they even have the AP pulling receipts on what kind of car Scherzer is driving as opposed to reporting the lack of increase in player salary relating to market inflation and other professional leagues. (Also, what are the owners driving ... perhaps we can hear about their fleets?) The minimum salary has increased $30,000 since 2017, a 6.6% increase, while league revenue grows year over year, climbing to more than $10.7 billion in 2019.

We will continue to stay tuned on latest developments, if any, but unless the owners have an epiphany in the next 12 hours, Opening Day is looking to be out of the question. If tomorrow’s session doesn’t go well, it’s time we fully shift to plan B and have the players and owners arm wrestle about each issue.

Gerrit Cole vs. Rob Manfred — who you got?