Representatives for both MLB players and owners met in Texas on Tuesday for the second consecutive day before the current collective bargaining agreement comes to a conclusion at 11:59 PM EST Wednesday evening.
As has been the case over the past several months, there’s widespread speculation that a lockout will quickly follow once the CBA does expire.
Despite a lack of public comments from either MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred or MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark, it sure looks like a lockout will be the name of the game.
“With the sport on the brink, a second straight day of meetings between Major League Baseball owners and players brought little reason for optimism that a lockout can be averted. The sides remain worlds apart in collective bargaining talks,” Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported Tuesday evening. “The best-case scenario for what is effectively deadline day, Wednesday, would be a sense of momentum that convinces owners to put off moving for a lockout at midnight entering Thursday. Getting to a full deal by the end of Wednesday is impossible, but theoretically, they could gain enough steam in some areas to want to keep moving.”
It has been common practice in other sports for owners to lockout the players once a current collective bargaining agreement expires. That’s expected to be the case here with MLB in the midst of one of its craziest free-agent periods in recent memory. The end result could be the sport’s first work stoppage in more than a quarter-century.
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MLB lockout on the horizon
The sides took in two different meeting in Texas on Tuesday for just over an hour in total. This pace of negotiations suggests that MLB and the MLBPA know full well that an agreement will not be reached ahead of the deadline. The league is pretty much looking to maintain the status quo while players want a larger piece of the proverbial pie.
The question now becomes whether the owners will use its right to lockout players — ending free agency in the process.
If a work stoppage does end up being the name of the game, the focus will turn to when an agreement might be reached. Unlike the work stoppage of 1994-95, it’s highly unlikely games will be threatened.
Remember, the 1994 World Series was canceled with that work stoppage lasting 232 days, making it the longest in MLB history.
It took heroics on the part of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the 1998 MLB season to help return the sport to national relevance. Neither side wants to see a repeat of this, leading to speculation that something will get done ahead of the New Year or shortly thereafter.