The Houston Astros will miss the first two series of the 2022 regular season after commissioner Rob Manfred cancelled a portion of the games as part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
The Astros were set to open the season in Houston against the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees in early April.
Manfred seemed to believe there was a path to a deal last night, as he and MLB franchise owners imposed an updated deadline for 5 p.m. EST Tuesday, March 1. MLB submitted its “final, best” offer by 3:30 p.m.
However, his tune changed this morning after MLB and the MLBPA remained far apart on a new deal. At this point, there appears to be a chasm separating the positions of the owners and the players on three primary issues: the competitive balance tax, the league’s minimum salaries and the size of the pre-arbitration player bonus pool.
With games now cancelled, a new series of issues will arise to negotiate, like prorated salary for example. Manfred took a hard stance by saying that it was the league’s position that players would not be paid for any games not played, though.
The MLBPA issued a pointed statement in regard to the situation:
Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. spoke to reporters on the issues between the league and the players.
McCullers deactivated from Twitter on Tuesday, following a tweet with his opinion on the ongoing lockout. The Astros pitcher spoke to reporters after Major League Baseball made the decision to cancel games.
"“I don’t know what I’d say to fans,” Astros MLBPA representative McCullers said. “I’m upset as a player, as a fan of the game. I don’t believe this had to happen. I don’t believe it had to come to this point. The other side we’re negotiating with hasn’t shown a true ability to want to get something done.”"
It took the owners 43 days to issue its first proposal after imposing a lockout on Dec. 2. It’s hard to imagine that they would be willing to speed things up at this point if they were willing to forgo game revenue for the first two series of the season.
Former Astros catcher Dustin Garneau remained active on social media Tuesday, calling out Manfred, too.
"“This dude is lying to the public,” Garneau said via Twitter. “They literally went (quiet) on us for 43 days and say they ‘negotiated’ in good faith.”"
There are no meetings scheduled for further negotiation at this time. If MLB chooses to hold off cancelling any additional games, the Astros will open the season on April 7 against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.