Washington Nationals: Lockout Looms On Horizon
By Ron Juckett
As the old agreement sunsets, trouble for the Washington Nationals and the rest of baseball looms in the immediate future. A week remains to solve it.
The Washington Nationals and the rest of Major League Baseball may lockout the players when the current collective-bargaining agreement expires on December 1.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports lays out the issues separating MLB and the Players Association. What to do with the qualifying offer currently in use, to establish an international draft, tinkering with the drug usage policy and adequate free agency compensation are the issues needing agreement.
Both sides have discussed expanding rosters to 26 full-time for a 28- or 29-player September roster and keeping the regular season at 162 games with four new off days on the calendar. MLB’s last work stoppage came during the damaging 1994-95 player’s strike.
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If, in fact, a lockout occurs, the Nationals may not sign any new players or extend anyone on the roster. No trades can happen. Any workouts players and Washington set up after the season must officially end. In the worst-case scenario, Spring Training will start late and the World Baseball Classic goes on without MLB players.
No one has the sense of anything running long enough to jeopardize the start of the 2017 season. As the Nats look to defend their National League East crown, and as over 40 million watched the Chicago Cubs win Game 7 of the World Series, stopping the new season is in nobody’s interests.
Although you may take a sigh of relief if Max Scherzer does not pitch real baseball until the season starts, MLB is correct in running the WBC to grow the game globally. As we see with the NFL cramming games in London every year, it is important for sports to cross oceans and create fans and revenue.
Owners want to cut costs by establishing an international draft. In exchange, they offered to do away with team compensation for free agency. The players, feeling the proposal was not equal, declined.
Largely, MLB thinks the Players are too slow in negotiations. A threat of a work-stoppage will speed up the process, but likely widen the gaps between both sides.
For the Nationals, if there is a lockout, they cannot talk to free agents or other teams about trades. Washington, and other markets where the MLB team plays second fiddle to other sports, negative press this time of year is dangerous.
Yes, you can see both points of view on these issues, but talk of substance by casual fans turns into disgust with billionaires and millionaires arguing. Those of us who love baseball more than anything know how long the winters are and just want baseball played.
Next: Nats Need Belief in 2017
A situation where there are no winners, just losers on all sides.