Major League Baseball canceled three more days of spring training games on Friday, stating the earliest Cactus or Grapefruit league play would start is on March 8.
Previously, it had canceled games through March 4.
The new calendar is contingent on MLB and the MLBPA coming to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement by a league-imposed deadline on Monday. Without an agreement, additional spring games will be canceled as will regular-season games, according to a league spokesperson.
MLB: Shortened season if no labor deal by Mon.
How can the MLB lockout end? Baseball insiders weigh in on potential compromises
‘Let’s go play baseball. Enough is enough’: Inside the Vanderbilt workouts replacing spring training
The news came on Day 5 of negotiations this week — the first with commissioner Rob Manfred in attendance. Manfred spoke with union chief Tony Clark about how the sides can move the process forward in order to avoid cancellation of Opening Day on March 31. He did not speak with players who were in attendance, which again included subcommittee members Max Scherzer, Andrew Miller and Zack Britton.
The sides did make progress on one issue, closing in on an agreement for a new lottery draft system. They’re still debating how many teams should be in the lottery — the league wants four, the union wants seven — and how many consecutive seasons a team can enter it, but both sides indicated they were making progress. In fact, the league believes its offer on the lottery draft is the most aggressive in sports.
Negotiations lasted over five hours on Friday with league officials meeting with players and then separately in their own caucus several times. Padres owner Ron Fowler, Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner, Rockies owner Dick Monfort — and Manfred — were part of the league’s negotiating team on Friday.
The draft is just one of many issues that remain on the table. The league feels like it’s addressed player’s concerns on other topics, but the union hasn’t been overly impressed by the offers.
Large monetary or philosophical differences remain on CBT, the pre-arbitration bonus pool, revenue sharing and salary arbitration. The sides did discuss all these issues on Friday — just as they have every day this week — but there weren’t any new proposals or major breakthroughs, according to sources familiar with the conversations.
That said, one source described Friday’s talks as having a “better vibe” than the previous day, while expressing optimism that that, coupled with the lottery progress, could lead to some long-awaited momentum toward getting a deal done.