Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association will return to the virtual negotiating table on Thursday, and for the sake of the sport both parties better be serious about getting down to business. Otherwise this situation could get ugly in a hurry.
According to multiple reports, owners are scheduled to make their latest proposal in the first official meeting with player representatives since the lockout went into effect on Dec. 2. This round of talks will begin about one month before pitchers and catchers typically report for spring training.
There still seems to be an expectation that a deal will be reached in time to avoid cancelling regular-season games, but with each passing day it’s becoming harder to remain optimistic. After the last six weeks were wasted without so much as a whisper from either party, one can’t help but feel skeptical that commissioner Rob Manfred and union boss Tony Clark will resolve their issues in short order.
MLB might be a long way off from having to alter its schedule, but the timeline is tighter than some might think.
Even if the players are interested in the owners’ next offer, which seems unlikely, it would take a while to work through the details. Teams would then need to resume signing and trading players to complete their off-season business before the next season can begin.
To avoid any delays to spring training, a deal likely needs to get done…