MLB Will Not Counter MLBPA’s Latest Offer, Requests Federal Mediator To Help Resolve Lockout


4:10PM: The league will not be making a counter to the MLBPA’s most recent offer, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reports (via Twitter).  The union made their offer on Tuesday and MLB was expected to make a response, though this will now apparently not be the case.  Between this lack of a counter-offer, no new meetings scheduled between the two sides, and now the league’s request for a federal mediator, it is unclear when the next set of negotiations may take place.

3:29PM: Major League Baseball has asked the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for assistance in ending the lockout,’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  As per the league’s request, a federal mediator would step in to help resolve the many outstanding issues between the owners and players in negotiating the next collective bargaining agreement.  The MLBPA would also have to sign off on a mediator’s involvement, and it isn’t yet clear whether the union has consented to this third-party consultation.

It isn’t uncommon for the FMCS to become involved in sports-related work stoppages, as federal mediators all played roles in the NFL’s 2011 lockout, the NBA’s 2011 lockout, and the 2012-13 NHL lockout.  In addition, Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times noted that former FMCS director William Usery was appointed by President Bill Clinton to try and help baseball’s owners and players come to an agreement that would end the 1994-95 players’ strike.

Results were mixed, as FMCS involvement didn’t do much in the NFL’s case, nor did Usery’s involvement help bring the 1994-95 strike any closer to an end.  It is worth underscoring that a federal mediator is there only to help facilitate talks between the two sides, and cannot force either party to accept a deal.

With this in mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the lockout is any closer to a resolution.  In the absolute best-case scenario that a mediator’s involvement would suddenly jumpstart talks, it would likely be some time before a new CBA is finalized — Jeff Jones of The Belleville News-Democrat observes that the aforementioned NBA and NHL lockouts needed roughly five more weeks of talks to reach a resolution.  If Spring Training didn’t begin until mid-March, some regular-season games would need to be canceled.

A quick end to the lockout seems quite remote, however, given the large divides that have already become apparent in earlier talks between MLBPA and the players’ union.  If anything, requesting a mediator at this relatively early stage of negotiations is unusual, and it could be a tactic by the league to put some public pressure on the union.  (Labor lawyer Eugene Freedman raised this point as part of a multi-Tweet thread about today’s news.)  According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, a player with direct knowledge of the labor talks referred to the mediation request as “a publicity stunt” from the league.

While the lockout has only been going on for a little over two months, there is certainly a ticking-clock element to negotiations, given that Spring Training camps were scheduled to open within two weeks’ time, and Opening Day is scheduled for March 31.  If the “publicity stunt” sentiment is shared by the union members at large and the MLBPA doesn’t agree to FMCS mediation, it would represent yet another setback in talks (or lack thereof) between the two sides.

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