NEW YORK (AP) — The start of spring training will likely be a casualty of Major League Baseball’s lockdown, which will threaten Opening Day unless drawn-out talks lead to a deal in less time. ‘a month.

After six months of wrangling over the economics of the sport, baseball’s warring factions couldn’t even agree on whether to have a mediator.

The Major League Baseball Players’ Association ruled out third-party intervention on Friday, a day after MLB requested assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

“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,” the union said in a statement.

“After consultation with our board of directors and taking into account various factors, we have refused this request. The clearest path to a fair and timely deal is to come back to the table. The players are ready to negotiate.

The owners locked out the players on December 2, immediately after a five-year collective agreement expired. There have only been three in-person core economics trading sessions since, on Jan. 24-25 and last Tuesday, plus a digital session on Jan. 13. The parties are still very far apart.

“With the opening of the camps expected 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,” said the MLB in a statement.

“Clearly the most productive route would be the involvement of an impartial third party to help bridge the gaps and facilitate an agreement,” the league said. “It’s hard to understand why a party that wants to reach a settlement would reject mediation from the federal agency specifically tasked with resolving these disputes, including many successes in professional sports.

No negotiation sessions are scheduled on the main economic issues. The parties have met three times this week on non-essential matters.

“We don’t need mediation because what we are offering to MLB is fair to both parties,” tweeted pitcher Max Scherzer, who agreed to a three-year, $130 million contract with the New York Mets. York the day before lockdown.

“We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t work as caps, allow younger players to realize more of their market value, make service time manipulation a thing of the past, and eliminate tanking as a winning strategy” , wrote Scherzer.

George H. Cohen, director of the FMCS from 2009 to 2013 after many years as outside counsel for the baseball players’ association, arbitrated disputes involving the NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer.

“The goal of a mediator is to try to persuade the parties that it is in their interest to try to solve their problem directly, that is to say to control their own destiny,” he said. he declares. “At the end of the day, it’s the parties who come to an agreement. All I did was provide them with a forum and an opportunity and the thinking associated with it.

Players blame owners for lockdown. Commissioner Rob Manfred said his team was being proactive, not wanting to risk a season-ending strike similar to the one that wiped out the 1994 World Series.

Players upset payroll shrank to $4.05 billion last year, lowest full-year since 2015. They demand extension of salary arbitration eligibility, significant increase luxury tax thresholds and minimum wages, a decrease in revenue sharing and new rules to prevent what they claim is manipulation of service time by clubs.

The teams say they will not expand arbitration or reduce revenue sharing, and that intensive luxury tax negotiations are for the final stage of negotiations.

The lockdown entered its 65th day on Friday and shows all signs of overshooting the scheduled start of spring training practices on February 16. Given that at least three weeks of training and exhibition games are required and players need multiple days to report to camps and go through COVID-19 protocols, opening day on March 31 will be threatened if there is no agreement by the end of February or the beginning of March.

There is little chance of negotiations next week, when the owners are due to meet Tuesday through Thursday in Orlando, Florida. The management negotiating team is expected in Orlando for the session.

Players don’t start getting paid until opening day, and teams generate much of their revenue from opening day through the World Series.

Baseball’s ninth work stoppage is the first since a series of strikes and lockouts that set the sport back from 1972 to 1995.

The players association has made $5,000 stipends available to its members out of the $178.5 million in cash, US Treasury securities and investments available as of Dec. 31, 2020, according to its latest disclosure form. financial statements filed with the US Department of Labor.

There is a huge income disparity between players. Of the 1,670 who appeared on a major league roster last year, 1,145 earned less than $1 million, including 771 less than $500,000 and 241 less than $100,000. The 100 highest paid players accounted for 50.6% of earnings.

More AP MLB: and

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.