Major League Baseball shut down on Dec. 2 as the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players expired, postponed the start of spring training, set a Feb. 28 deadline to make a deal and then cancelled the first two series of the season.
Now a possible April 7 opening day has been pushed back to April 14. The Cincinnati Reds are scheduled to start a home series against the St. Louis Cardinals that day.
“In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Wednesday, “this week we have made good-faith proposals that address the specific concerns voiced by the MLBPA and would have allowed the players to return to the field immediately. The Clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA. On the key economic issues that have posed stumbling blocks, the Clubs proposed ways to bridge gaps to preserve a full schedule. Regrettably, after our second late-night bargaining session in a week, we remain without a deal.
“Because of the logistical realities of the calendar, another two series are being removed from the schedule, meaning that Opening Day is postponed until April 14th. We worked hard to reach an agreement and offered a fair deal with significant improvements for the players and our fans. I am saddened by this situation’s continued impact on our game and all those who are a part of it, especially our loyal fans.
“We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they will ultimately choose to accept the fair agreement they have been offered.”
Here’s how the Major League Baseball Players Association responded: “The decision by the owners to cancel additional games is completely unnecessary. After making a set of comprehensive proposals to the league earlier this afternoon and being told substantive responses were forthcoming, Players have yet to hear back. Players want to play, and we cannot wait to get back on the field for the best fans in the world. Our top priority remains the finalization of a fair contract for all Players, and we will continue negotiations toward that end.”