MLB Players and Owners Strike Out on Labor Deal, Opening Day Still in Limbo

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said a deal had to be reached by Monday in order to salvage opening day on March 31

A detailed view of a ball inside a glove is seen in the Texas Rangers dugout. MLB Players and owners are currently stuck on hammering out a new labor deal.
A detailed view of a ball inside a glove is seen in the Texas Rangers dugout.
Victor Decolongon/Getty

With Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred setting a Monday deadline to salvage opening day on March 31 (citing a need for a full four weeks of spring training ahead of a grueling 162-game schedule), owners and players, who have been locked out since the beginning of December, engaged in intense negotiations yesterday to strike a new labor deal.

Despite negotiating for the eighth straight day after meeting just six times previously, MLB and the MLBPA struck out on reaching a pact by Manfred’s deadline, but did agree to extend the negotiation period until Tuesday at 5 p.m. So, after speaking for 16 hours on Monday, MLB and the MLBPA will attempt to wrap things up in just six hours with talks set to begin at talks at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. “We want to exhaust every possibility to get a deal done,” a league spokesperson said.

For an agreement to be reached and the season to start on time, the sides still need to agree on a number of really fun and exciting issues, including the luxury tax threshold, the amount of cash in the new bonus pool for pre-arbitration players and the minimum salary for players.

Owners have proposed raising the luxury tax threshold from $210 million to $230 million. Players want it set at $245 million. Owners want the pool for pre-arbitration players set at $25 million annually. Players want it to be $115 million. Owners want to raise the minimum salary from $570,500 to $675,000 this year. Players want the minimum to be $775,000. Here’s a suggestion: meet in the middle on all those figures and get a deal done.

Slightly more interesting than billionaires haggling with millionaires over figures that most baseball fans don’t care about is the issue of expanding the postseason. After expanding the postseason in 2020 due to the shortened COVID-19 season, baseball went back to a 10-team format last season. Owners have been pushing to move ahead with a 14-team field in the postseason and players are countering with a 12-team playoff.

“After several bargaining sessions, MLB proposed two separate offers, one with a 14-team postseason that included higher minimum salaries and more money in the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the other with a 12-team field and less money on both other items,” according to

Spring training games were supposed to start on Saturday, but exhibition play has already been canceled through March 7 due to the lingering lockout. Players would collectively lose $20.5 million in salary for each day of the regular season that is canceled while MLB’s 30 teams would lose large sums that are harder to determine precisely, according to a study by The Associated Press.

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