In a humiliating outcome for Major League Baseball, the lockout has officially bled into the 2022 regular season. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Tuesday that the season’s first two series have been canceled. For the Marlins, that means seven games—four against the Braves (March 31-April 3) and three against the Rangers (April 4-6)—are gone and will not be rescheduled.
The earliest possible start date for Miami’s upcoming campaign is April 8 on the road against the Giants. But that would require the owners and players’ union to immediately consummate a new collective bargaining agreement when their negotiations resume in New York (the last week-plus of talks took place at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter).
Several of the “non-core” economic details that have tentatively been agreed to, like the universal designated hitter and MLB Draft lottery, would move the league in a positive direction. Three full months into the lockout, however, there are still substantial differences between what these sides want regarding the competitive balance tax threshold, league minimum salary and bonus pool for top-performing, pre-arbitration-eligible players.
The MLBPA's previous offer:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 1, 2022
- CBT thresholds at 238/244/250/256/263
- Pre-arb bonus pool at $85M with $5M annual increases
- Minimums at $725K going up $20K a year
From the players’ perspective, they’re seeking long overdue changes to account for inflation and to more adequately reward the extraordinary contributions of young stars. MLB front offices have collectively learned to avoid making long-term investments in declining veterans. Under the league’s current financial system, owners are able to essentially pocket that money. MLB revenues continue to grow, but players—despite being as talented and essential as ever—are receiving a smaller piece of the pie than they used to.
Ownership’s greed is to blame for the lost games. The billionaires are reportedly comfortable sacrificing a full month of 2022 if it pressures the players into concessions that would make up for the losses by the end of the half-decade CBA. So far, the MLBPA isn’t cracking.
It was ordinarily going to be a tall task for the Marlins to reconfigure their 95-loss team into a playoff contender in a single offseason. Theoretically, shortening the schedule by any amount will allow for more parity (with 2020 proving to be an extreme example of this). Facing the reigning World Series champions four fewer times than expected is potentially another tweak in their favor considering how lopsided the rivalry has been lately.
On the other hand, the further that Opening Day gets delayed, the more overlap there will be between regular Marlins games and highly anticipated Miami Heat and Florida Panthers postseason series. That’s extra adversity for their business operations department to overcome in terms of generating ticket and merchandise sales. Moreover, think of prospects on the Marlins 40-man roster who are barred from even participating in minor league contests until the lockout is lifted. That lost development time could catch up to them in the future.
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