IRVING, Texas — Major League Baseball and the players association remain far apart in their negotiations with both sides pessimistic that an agreement can be reached before Wednesday night’s deadline.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again Wednesday morning but are highly skeptical that a deal can be struck before the 11:59 p.m. ET deadline Wednesday when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
If no agreement is reached, MLB could impose an immediate lockout.
The two sides met twice for a total of 65 minutes Tuesday unable to bridge the colossal gap. The union presented a proposal Tuesday morning which was flatly rejected by MLB’s negotiating team - including seven owners. MLB executives departed the meeting after 30 minutes, reconvened four hours later, and met again for 35 minutes.
The two sides met separately for an hour before Bruce Meyer, the chief union negotiator, and Andrew Miller of the union’s executive subcommittee met in a private session with MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem and Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort, chairman of the labor policy.
MLB and the union to meet again Wednesday, but time is running out with only three hours of face-to-face negotiations since the Thanksgiving holidays.
If an agreement is not reached, or there is no momentum towards the deal, MLB is expected to impose a lockout Wednesday evening or Thursday.
The lockout would freeze free agent signings, trades, and all baseball activities, including the shutdown of baseball facilities for players’ off-season workouts. It would be MLB’s first work stoppage since 1994-1995.
Despite the pessimism, MLB officials and the union are scheduled to stay in the Dallas area until Thursday morning.
Commissioner Rob Manfred arrived into town to be part of the negotiations, which includes about 65 players in attendance, who are holding out hope that a lockout can be averted.
The union insists that a lockout would be counter-productive, and agitate the players, saying they’d rather reach a desirable deal even it takes extra time than being pressed into an agreement.
But even if there’s no agreement by Wednesday, both sides are cautiously optimistic their differences can be resolved before the start of spring training.
“Honestly, I can’t believe there’s a single fan in the world who doesn’t understand that an offseason lockout that moves the process forward,’’ Manfred said last week, “is different than a labor dispute that costs games.’’
The next artificial deadline likely would be about Feb. 1, two weeks before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training before any games are missed.
“I think when you look at other sports, Manfred said, “the pattern has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of actual disruption of the season. That’s what it’s about. It’s avoiding doing damage to the season.”
The union sent its first economic proposal in April, which MLB immediately dismissed. MLB responded with its proposal in August, which the union also quickly dismissed. They have each exchanged proposals these past three months, including the union’s proposal Tuesday, but a Grand Canyon-sized gap remains as the clock continues to tick.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB's looming lockout: Sides far apart in Tuesday negotiations