Disagreements remain over such issues as revenue sharing among clubs, service time required to reach salary arbitration, a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players and the competitive balance tax on high-payroll teams.
Pitchers and catchers would have begun spring-training workouts this week if not for the labor dispute.
While it’s no surprise the first week of exhibition games has been lost to the lockout, the larger questions remain when (or if) spring training will begin and whether the regular season will open as scheduled March 31. All of that depends on what happens in the negotiations.
The Players Association rejected MLB’s characterization of Friday’s move, saying in a statement: “MLB announced today that it ‘must’ postpone the start of spring training games. This is false. Nothing requires the league to delay the start of spring training, much like nothing required the league’s decision to implement the lockout in the first place. Despite these decisions by the league, players remain committed to the negotiating process.”
When implementing the lockout in December, MLB framed it as a preemptive move to guard against the possibility of the players going on strike during the regular season, as happened in 1994, resulting in cancellation of that year’s World Series.
This is the fourth consecutive year, for a variety of reasons, that the Braves’ spring training plans at CoolToday Park in North Port have been derailed.
In 2019, which was to have been the Braves’ first spring there, construction delays caused them to train in the Orlando area for one additional year and play just one exhibition game in North Port. In 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Grapefruit League schedule in the second week of March. In 2021, attendance was limited at spring training games because of the pandemic. Now, the lockout.
Debbie McDowell, a member of the North Port City Commission, has called the latest interruption “very disappointing” and “very unfortunate.”
“Economically, there is going to be a big impact because you’re not having the tourist draw,” she said.