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MLB Lockout Continues Over No Small Issue

MLB and the the MLBPA came to blows over items such as a proposed international draft, something that takes a greater deal of nuance than MLB would have you believe.

MLB The Show comes to consoles on April 5. That concludes your options for Major League Baseball at this time.

Another arbitrary league deadline came and went on Wednesday with MLB deciding to cancel more slates of games when negotiations failed to conclude with a new collective bargaining agreement.

MLB released the following statement with the usual decorative bulbs of “good-faith proposals” and “utmost respect” talking points.

There was hope, however slim, that a CBA could be secured as the league sent the players a menu of options. However, the connotation of which was that they were smaller issues that could be easily assuaged.

Say What?

Via The Athletic the options were as follows:

“1. eliminate the qualifying offer, and add the international draft; 2. keep both the qualifying offer and international amateur systems the same as they were in the last deal, without a draft; or 3. kick the can down the road to Nov. 15, 2022. If players don't agree to an international draft (starting in 2024) by that point, then the owners could reopen the entire collective bargaining agreement after the 2024 season. The last option, in effect, would allow for the CBA to be a three-year deal, instead of a five-year deal.”

The players came away with their own option to volley back to the billionaires. How about agreeing to disagree for the moment and nurture something that works for everyone as pertains to prospective international players? If by Nov. 15 there was no agreement, the league would go back to business as usual for the interim.

The answer was games have been canceled. There will now be no games prior to at least April 14, which means your hot dog eating will be inexcusable guilty pleasures and not something you do from the comfort of your favorite ballpark.

Papi Solutions

The quibble over an international draft isn’t a small question. ESPN’s Jeff Passan spoke with David Ortiz who expressed just how much goes into something that will revolutionize a part of the world that garners a remarkable number of ballplayers, including many who eventually end up at that All-Star Game midsummer.

"The system in the Dominican [Republic] is not ready to have a draft next year," Ortiz told ESPN. "The Dominican is not the U.S. You can't snap a finger and everything lines up to operate the right way. We've got a new president who's trying to improve things. We need to do this slowly."

Ortiz has a solution, and it’s to wait. Implementing a draft could have wide-ranging ramifications for the professional status of players whose opportunities are scant.

“If we're going to do it, let's do it right,” Ortiz told ESPN. “Rushing it like this is not right.

"Baseball is such a big thing in the Dominican. Baseball keeps kids off the streets. We don't want that to walk away from us. We want it to get better. That's my focus. Nothing else. We have the youth. People wanting to be me, Pedro [Martinez], [Albert] Pujols. We can't let that go away.”

It’s important to remember that almost a third of MLB’s ranks feature international players. It’s a trove of talent that includes current stars like Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto.

Wednesday may not have been about headline issues like the competitive balance tax, which previously sat as the main article of contention. But an international draft is not something that you toss into negotiations at the end as an afterthought.

It will affect the livelihood of many players who will soon play at the highest level. From those that will shape the game to those who will be up for a cup of coffee, protecting their interests as the game benefits from their talent is paramount and should be of the utmost importance.