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'A deadline is a deadline': MLB informs MLBPA that if there’s no deal by Monday, the regular season will be delayed

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 2/24/2022 Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY

Major League Baseball informed the players union Wednesday that if there’s no labor agreement reached by Feb. 28, the regular season will be officially delayed and players will forfeit salary for every missed game.

“A deadline is a deadline,’’ an MLB official said after their third day of negotiations. “Missed games are missed games. Salary will not be paid for those games.’’

The Major League Baseball Players Association declined to publicly react to MLB’s threat of not paying players their full salary, but several players spoke out.

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“It’s fascinating MLB setting a hard deadline to play a full season for Monday,’’ San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood tweeted. “They locked us out. Had barely any contact for two months post-lockout. Have yet to make a single good faith offer to even initiate real conversations to get a deal done. Just make a real offer.’’

Players would lose about $20.5 million each day the season is delayed, according to an Associated Press study. Max Scherzer, an outspoken leader on the union’s executive subcommittee, would lose $232,975 for each regular-season game missed.

MLB’s announcement came in light of reports that the Feb. 28 date was only a soft deadline, and if the season was pushed back, games could still be made up with seven-inning doubleheaders.

“The Commissioner was clear that we believe based on the injury data and 2020 experience,’’ the spokesman said, “we need four weeks of spring training to protect the health and safety of the players. We chose the 28th because it’s the last possible date to get camps open on time for March 3rd.

“Due to interleague play occurring on almost a daily basis, and the challenges involved with rescheduling those games, we do not plan on rescheduling missed games as doubleheaders.

“Simply put, we would resume the existing schedule based upon when we are able to ratify an agreement and open camps.’’

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The two sides are scheduled to have their fourth consecutive negotiating session Thursday in Jupiter, Florida. Yet, even after their longest talks since the Dec. 2 lockout, there has been minimal movement.

The latest proposal by MLB on Wednesday increased the minimum salary to $640,000 this year, and increasing $10,000 for the remaining four years of the collective bargaining agreement. It’s a 12% increase over last year, increasing the minimum salary by a total of $69,500 from the $570,500 minimum last year, and a bigger increase than the total of $63,00 over the entirety of the last CBA.

The union argues that it barely keeps up with inflation, and reminded MLB that it’s still the lowest minimum salary of the four major sports. It proposed the minimum starts at $775,000 and increases by $30,000 a year during the CBA.

The two sides still remain far apart on virtually every economic issue, and haven’t had discussions since coming to Florida about the critical luxury tax threshold and penalties.

MLB proposed raising the luxury tax from $210 million to $214 million this season, and increasing to $216 million to 2024, $218 million in 2025 and $222 million in 2026 with nearly double the penalties from the previous collective bargaining agreement. The union’s last proposal seeks that the luxury tax starts at $245 million, and increases to $252 million in 2023, $259 million in 2024, $266 million in 2025 and $273 million in 2026.

They also are $95 million apart in a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players with MLB refusing to expand the arbitration eligibility class from players with at least two years of service and ranking among the top 22% in their service class. The union is seeking arbitration for the top 80% of the two-year class.

There are so many economic issues still remaining, and precious little time.

There are expected to soon be another wave of spring training games canceled after the first week of games were already called off. There’s virtually no chance of players being ready to play spring training games by March 5.  

Soon, we will also know whether there’s any chance of the regular season starting on time - with opening day scheduled March 31 - too.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'A deadline is a deadline': MLB informs MLBPA that if there’s no deal by Monday, the regular season will be delayed

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