While the Chicago Cubs are planning their next moves in free agency, things are starting to look grim on the CBA front. Following the most recent round of discussions between the owners and the MLBPA this week, the chances of a normal spring training seem to have flown out the window. It’s now February 2 and we have no idea when the next economics meeting is going to be and the two sides are still nowhere close to a deal.
If you’ve been following the ongoing CBA talks, then you’ve seen that progress toward hammering out a new framework for baseball are moving forward at a glacial pace. Despite employing a lockout with the intention of “jumpstarting negotiations,” the owners outright refused to negotiate economics again until January. Since the month began, the two sides have met on about a weekly basis with each ending with little progress.
Tuesday’s talks were described as “heated,” lasting 90 minutes and accomplishing next to nothing. The players offered some slight concessions by lowering their pre-arbitration bonus pool from $105 million to $100 million and scaling back their service time manipulation proposal, two major hang-ups owners had with what the MLBPA had previously served up in talks. Still, the owners previously countered that $105 million with a mere $10 million so it’s fair to say that it didn’t move the needle.
Where it matters most (money), the MLB and the MLBPA are still worlds apart. Minimum salaries and the luxury tax still haven’t been touched and they remain the two biggest hurdles to an eventual agreement. The MLBPA’s proposed $245 million tax has essentially been laughed off by owners, who want it at $214 million. Forget the universal DH and other rule changes that’ll impact the Cubs and other teams’ plans going forward – they’re not part of these talks. Without economics, this train is simply not leaving the station.
We’re not going to see the Cubs in Mesa anytime soon
Were this any other year, pitchers and catchers would report to camp on February 14. Unless the ultimate hail mary of a proposal came in at the last minute that satisfied both sides, there isn’t a world where that stays on schedule. Jeff Passan and other analysts certainly don’t see an on-time spring training as a reality either, especially as both sides seem to be prepping for a delay. The harsh reality is that we’re still a ways away from seeing the Cubs play baseball again.
Seeing any sort of delay, to spring training or otherwise, will not go over well with players or fans. The owners could’ve chosen to keep playing under the old ruleset while negotiations continue, but this is the route we’re stuck on. The next major deadline is March 1. If nothing budges before then, Opening Day is in peril. Buckle up Cubs fans, we have a long way to go and a short time to get there.