Baseball players reject owners’ request for federal mediation in labor negotiations

A tight schedule that all but ensured a delayed start to spring training — and jeopardized the on-time start of the regular season — was a big reason for owners’ demand.

The players, who have been locked out since Dec. 2, pointed to a lack of urgency on the owners’ side for the current predicament with baseball’s schedule.

“Two months after their lockout was put in place, and only two days after promising the players that a counter-offer would be made, the owners refused to make a counter-offer and instead requested mediation,” reads the players’ statement. “After consultation with our Board of Directors and considering various factors, we have declined this request.”

MLB met the rejection, which was not unexpected, with a mixture of disappointment, bewilderment and determination.

“Our goal is to have players on the field and fans in the baseball diamonds for spring training and Opening Day,” an MLB spokesperson said in a statement. “With the camps scheduled to open in less than two weeks, it is time to get immediate help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help us overcome our differences and break the impasse.

“It is clear that the most productive route would be the involvement of an impartial third party to help bridge the gaps and facilitate an agreement. It is difficult to understand why a party who wants to reach an agreement would reject agency mediation. federal specifically responsible for resolving these disputes, including many successes in professional sports.

“MLB remains committed to bringing solutions to the table and reaching a fair deal for both parties.”

Mets pitcher Max Scherzer, one of two MLBPA representatives on its executive subcommittee, weighed in on the latest flap on Twitter, writing, “We don’t want mediation because what we’re offering to MLB is fair to both parties: We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t operate as caps, allow young players to realize more of their market value, make service time manipulation a thing of the past and eliminate the tank as a winning strategy.

Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon tweeted, “If the goal is to get players on the field as soon as possible, then why has it taken 43 days after the lockout to even hear from the MLB? It didn’t seem like a priority then! Why didn’t we receive a counter-proposal this week? These are all extremely tired antics/optics.

Next week, the owners will hold their quarterly meetings in Orlando, Fla., where commissioner Rob Manfred is expected to hold a press conference Thursday, possibly to announce a postponement of spring training.

Face-to-face negotiations may resume in Florida.

The sides last met Tuesday at MLB headquarters in New York. They have held three more negotiation sessions since the lockout began, two meetings in person and one on Zoom.

Significant differences remain on issues that revolve around paying young players earlier and competitive integrity.

The work stoppage is the first for baseball since 1995.

Michael Silverman can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.

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