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Major League Baseball Lockout Is Possible Ahead Of Wednesday Deadline

Reuters

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Major League Baseball owners are prepared to lock out the players if the two sides cannot reach a new collective bargaining agreement, according to Fox Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal.

The current labor deal between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) expires Dec. 1., and if the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the owners will consider voting to lock out the players, sources told Fox Sports.

During the season, and into the fall, there was little concern that a strike or lockout would occur. While the two sides were discussing disagreements regarding international players, sources told Forbes magazine in October, “don’t expect a strike or a lockout.”

The current five-year labor deal was approved Nov. 22, 2011, and expires midnight Wednesday. The two sides are back at the negotiating table, hoping to reach an agreement before the deadline.

MLB wants to increase the luxury tax (a tax that penalizes teams for spending above a set number), from $189 million to $200 million. The increase would benefit teams like the New York Yankees, who are regularly top spenders in a league that doesn’t have a salary cap.

MLB is also looking to expand its draft to include players outside of North America, proposing a full international draft system with a start time-frame of March, 2018, and a 10-round draft held over two days. Players are against an international draft.

The players union claims that it takes issue with certain technicalities of the international draft concept, and that the technicalities “are not seen with players in North America.”

The league’s current commissioner, Rob Manfred, has a lot of experience in labor negotiations, as he represented owners as outside counsel during the 1994-1995 strike. Manfred also represented the league in negotiations with the MLBPA in 2002, 2006, and 2011.

The last MLB strike cost baseball the 1994 World Series and part of the 1995 season. While the league has enjoyed labor peace since that event, it has faced other hurdles, including the era of rampant steroid use, which called into question the credibility of some of the league’s top stars.

A work stoppage would disrupt what was a successful season for the league, which ended in a thrilling, seven game World Series that will go down as an instant-classic. The league has a large crop of young superstars and benefited from weakened NFL ratings. Baseball benefited from the NFL early woes attributed to an uninspiring prime time schedule, poor on-field play, the Presidential campaign and the Colin Kaepernick fiasco. (RELATED: Fidel Castro Supporter Colin Kaepernick Greeted By Thunderous Boos In Miami [VIDEO])

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