MLB Lockout Rumors: League Asks For Federal Mediator Without Submitting Counteroffer

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Although Major League Baseball and the Players Association (MLBPA) have held recent meetings for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), there has been little progress made amid heated negotiations.

Among the economic issues yet to be resolved are establishing a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, the luxury tax threshold (competitive balance tax) and the minimum salary. As of their latest negotiations, MLB and the MLBPA were $90 million apart on a pre-arbitration bonus pool.

The union has reportedly grown frustrated amid a belief the league is not taking them seriously, but nevertheless, the sides were expected to continue meeting.

However, MLB has now requested the involvement of a federal mediator, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

The league reached out to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a governmental agency that attempts to help resolve labor disputes, sources said.

Although the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is an independent party, their potential involvement requires approval from the union. Whether they will sign off on such may be unlikely considering the initial expectation was for MLB to submit a counteroffer in CBA negotiations:

The sides left the session acknowledging little progress had been made, though the union, sources said, was anticipating a counteroffer from the league at the end of this week. Instead, MLB, ahead of owners’ meetings taking place in Orlando next week, attempted to involve a mediator, who, if the union accepts the league’s efforts, could accomplish what neither side has been able to in 10 months of negotiating.

Mediators were previously used during the players’ strikes in 1981 and 1994; the latter of which did not lead to a resolution and ultimately saw the World Series canceled. A federal mediator was successful with the 2013 NHL lockout and MLS strike in 2015.

With the MLB lockout now having surpassed two months, time is of the essence with respect to Spring Training as camps are tentatively scheduled to open in the middle of February. That presumably will not be feasible should a new CBA not be agreed to within the next few days.

Report: MLB willing to cancel games

During a recent round of negotiations, MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem reportedly conveyed the league is open to canceling regular season games if talks did not progress. The declaration was taken by MLBPA as a threat and further added to the animosity.

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