Once it was confirmed that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred would be holding a Thursday press conference at the conclusion of the owners meetings and also that owners and the MLB Players Association weren’t scheduled to have any additional negotiations regarding the ongoing lockout until the weekend, most assumed Manfred would announce spring training camps would not open, next week, as planned.
That wasn’t the case, but that doesn’t mean fans should get overly optimistic.
As Jeff Passan noted for ESPN, Manfred did not officially postpone the beginning of spring training while speaking with reporters Thursday. Manfred also said he believes “we will have an agreement in time to play our regular schedule.”
The MLBPA refused an MLB proposal last week for a federal mediator to offer assistance. Instead, MLB will submit a new proposal to the union at some point on Saturday.
Manfred declared himself an “optimist” and added that the sides are “always one breakthrough away from making an agreement” and ending the work stoppage that threatens more than February workouts.
“That’s the art of this process,” Manfred continued. “Somebody makes a move. And that’s why we’ll make additional moves on Saturday that creates flexibility on the other side and what seemed like a big gap on this topic or that topic isn’t such a big gap anymore.”
The most worrisome thing for nervous baseball fans, per Mike Axisa and Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, is that Manfred reiterated previous comments and reports about both teams and players needing a four-week spring training before the start of meaningful games. The math, thus, says that camps must open no later than three weeks from Thursday for Opening Day to occur on time on March 31.
The two parties are reportedly still far apart on a deal, but the fact they’re talking before the Super Bowl is better than nothing as the unofficial March 3 deadline gets closer with each passing day.