M.L.B. Tells Union Games Will Be Lost Without a Deal Soon

Believing the sides have had a year to reach a new agreement and that deadlines are deadlines, the M.L.B. spokesman said on Wednesday that the sides still had five days to figure out a new labor pact.

Spring training, which was supposed to begin last week, hasn’t started yet because M.L.B. locked out the players on Dec. 2 — the day after the previous five-year C.B.A. expired — and a new labor deal has not materialized. Late last week, M.L.B. announced that the start of spring training games, originally slated for Feb. 26, would be postponed “until no earlier” than March 5.

The last work stoppage in M.L.B. to cost the league regular-season games was the 1994-95 player strike, which resulted in the loss of over 900 games and the 1994 World Series.

Overall, the union has been seeking a series of improvements to the economic structure of the sport, with a goal of helping younger players who are on less lucrative contracts, improving competition among teams, curbing service time manipulation and injecting more spending. The league, though, believes that players have a fair system without a hard salary cap and sees it as a matter of wealth distribution — that star players are disproportionately commanding more than others.

Sensing increased urgency, the sides gathered at Roger Dean Stadium this week, beginning on Monday — and talks could perhaps last all week should they prove productive. Not only did the negotiating teams of both sides come to the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins, but so did two club owners and at least 10 players who hold leadership positions in the union.

So far, though, each side has been frustrated with the other because of moves they have viewed as only modest concessions — or even backward. Several big matters, such as the luxury tax or revenue-sharing systems, remain unresolved.

On Wednesday, M.L.B.’s latest offer was in one area: a $10,000 increase in the proposed league minimum salary, starting with $640,000, and rising by $10,000 each year. The union has sought a minimum salary of $775,000, which would climb $30,000 each season. The minimum salary in 2021 was $570,500.

Despite the disagreements between the sides, they agreed to meet again on Thursday.

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