Major League Baseball on Friday canceled spring training games through at least March 17 as negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union drag on.
On Tuesday, MLB postponed the March 31 Opening Day and canceled the first two series of regular-season games after a deal wasn’t finalized.
A collective bargain agreement determines players’ terms and conditions of employment. Players will not be paid for canceled games, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred noted.
The league indicated that it’s prepared to continue negotiations while the union said that team owners are trying to crack the players’ united front.
“We worked hard to avoid an outcome that’s bad for our fans, bad for our players and bad for our clubs,” Manfred told reporters earlier this week. “I want to assure our fans that our failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort by either party.”
The league had initially canceled all spring training games through March 7, and MLB’s Opening Day was slated for March 31. The commissioner said games were canceled and not postponed because it is not feasible to reschedule interleague games.
The earliest spring training games could start is currently March 18.
The players’ union on Tuesday criticized the league’s decision to postpone Opening Day and the cancellation of regular reason games, saying in a statement that players – and fans – are “disgusted, but sadly not surprised.”
“From the beginning of these negotiations, Players’ objectives have been consistent – to promote competition, provide fair compensation for young Players, and to uphold the integrity of our market system,” the union said. “Against the backdrop of growing revenues and record profits, we are seeking nothing more than a fair agreement.”
The league locked out the players on December 2, preventing them from using team facilities and keeping free agents from signing new contracts. The halt stems from disagreements over how to distribute an estimated $11 billion in annual revenue.
Owners say they have been battered by the decline of in-person attendance due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they have pushed to sign a new CBA similar to the most recent one.
Players, meanwhile, have seen their salaries decline in recent years, particularly for non-star players. The union has pushed to change the league’s restrictive rules around free agency and cut down on financial penalties for teams that spend heavily.
CNN’s Wayne Sterling, Steve Almasy, Kevin Dotson, Jill Martin and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.