NEW YORK (AP) — The start of spring training likely will be a casualty of Major League Baseball’s lockout, which will threaten opening day unless the drawn-out talks lead to a deal in less than a month.
After a half-year of bickering over the sport’s economics, baseball’s warring factions couldn’t even agree on whether to have a mediator.
The Major League Baseball Players Association on Friday ruled out a third party intervening, one day after MLB asked for help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service,
“Two months after implementing their lockout, and just two days after committing to players that a counterproposal would be made, the owners refused to make a counter, and instead requested mediation,” the union said in a statement.
“After consultation with our executive board, and taking into account a variety of factors, we have declined this request. The clearest path to a fair and timely agreement is to get back to the table. Players stand ready to negotiate.”
Owners locked out players on Dec. 2, immediately following the expiration of a five-year collective bargaining agreement. There have been just three in-person negotiating sessions on core economics since, on Jan. 24-25 and this past Tuesday, plus a digital session on Jan. 13. The sides are still far apart.
“With camps scheduled to open in less than two weeks, it is time to get immediate assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help us work through our differences and break the deadlock,” MLB said in a statement.
“It is clear the most productive path forward would be the involvement of an impartial third party to help bridge gaps and facilitate an agreement,” the league said. “It is hard to understand why a party that wants to make an agreement would reject mediation from…