MLB Headed for Lockout After CBA Talks Between Players, Owners End on Wednesday

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2021

The Major League Baseball logo serves as the visitor's on deck circle before a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Major League Baseball is heading toward a lockout after the owners and players association halted negotiations after failing to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement before the Dec. 2 deadline, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. 

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

After a seven-minute meeting with top union officials, MLB negotiators are leaving the hotel where bargaining has taken place. It’s unclear whether they’ll return. And if they don’t, that could be the last discussion before a lockout.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Players have been told collective-bargaining negotiations are done for the day.

Travis Sawchik of The Score reported on some of the specifics from the meeting:

Travis Sawchik @Travis_Sawchik

Owners proposed reduced MLB pension funding (no cost of living increases), I'm told. That's one way to end a meeting quickly.

Travis Sawchik @Travis_Sawchik

One agent I spoke with didn't think the pension ask was a serious negotiation item. Rather, an indicator the owners want to delay talks now and squeeze players later in the winter/early spring. Owners, it seems, believe they are more united, own a stronger position.

Barring a last-second deal being reached before tonight's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline, this will be the first work stoppage of any kind for baseball since 1994-95, when a strike culminated in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. This will be the ninth lockout in MLB since 1972.

The last CBA was agreed to in 2016 just before the deadline, but Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post argued both sides "kicked the can down the road" on important issues that they needed to confront in 2021.

Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reported in October that a work stoppage was "almost certain," with neither side finding common ground on negotiations that started last spring.

The two sides still have a lot of reason to come back to the table in order to avoid missing any games.

According to Passan, players would lose about $1.5 billion in salary with a similar stoppage to 1994, while MLB teams "would stand to bleed billions" from their "$11 billion-a-year business."

After already losing money during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a year of empty stadiums, this could be devastating for many in the industry.

Money remains a sticking point in negotiations, with the players fighting to create a payroll floor that forces teams to spend a minimum amount each year.

Other rule changes—including a universal designated hitter and expanded playoffs—were also said to be on the table. 

There will likely now be a freeze on transactions until an agreement is reached, with players unable to use team facilities.

The two sides must now focus on coming back to the table before the start of spring training on Feb. 26.