The clock is ticking for Major League Baseball.
After the owners and the MLB Players Association traded insults on Sunday, the two sides talked again on Monday, with the league telling the union that it was a day away from canceling another week of games, sources confirmed. The deadline was first reported by The Athletic.
A meeting is set for Tuesday and if an agreement is reached by the end of the day, MLB believes it can still play a full 162-game season, by pushing the first two series back to the end of the season.
The sides must bridge significant gaps to reach a deal, with the competitive balance tax at the top of the list.
The first tier of the CBT was set at $210 million last season, and the MLBPA proposed an increase to $238 million for next year, with MLB countering at $220 million.
Sources said MLB bumped its first-year offer to $228 million on Monday, but a sizable difference still exists for the rest of the five-year collective bargaining proposal.
On the players’ side, though, there remained skepticism a deal could be completed by Tuesday — especially coming a week after the three-month long lockout appeared close to an end when they met for over 16 hours, only for talks to break off.
Animosity arose following that deadline, with the union believing the league made it seem at the time that the sides were closer than they actually were.
If no deal is struck, another week of games could be lost by as soon as Tuesday, which would push back the start of the regular season to mid-April.
That would jeopardize not just another swath of games, but also Jackie Robinson Day, which is April 15, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s MLB debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Beyond that, it would get baseball to the precipice of the point where teams might have to give back television money, which is seen by some as another benchmark for when a deal might be struck.