MLB is reportedly planning to restart labor negotiations with the MLBPA in January, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
The league is reportedly preparing new economic proposals to send to the players. MLB is hoping to deliver those proposals in January. When that happens, it will mark the first time the owners and players have talked since the lockout was instituted in December.
Optimism over those talks should be tempered if using the NBA as a guide. Drellich spoke to a person involved in NBA labor talks who said, "Nothing happens until the very last minute."
“The point of (a lockout) generally is to impose economic pressure. And it’s not going to happen in the beginning, because people aren’t feeling it. They’re not getting paid. The season hasn’t started. So if the point of it is to impose the economic pressure, then yeah, in theory, it’s not going to really be effective until you get to the end."
There's logic to that line of thinking. MLB owners make the bulk of their money during the season and players only get paid during the season. Neither side is missing out on much from a financial perspective during the winter. As the season gets closer, both sides could be more desperate to make a deal.
Is MLB restarting labor talks in January a good thing?
It's tough to know whether the league restarting talks in January will be a good thing without knowing the particulars of the offer. Talking is better than the status quo, but only if the players feel the offer is negotiable. If the league's offer doesn't satisfy what the players are seeking, or comes off as insulting to the players, that could create a further schism between both sides.
Reports from December suggested the two sides were far apart in negotiations. The players likely don't feel much better after the league scrubbed player portraits and stories featuring current players from its website the day the lockout took place.
Player response to the January proposal will be a much better indicator of the end of the lockout. If the players feel the January proposal is negotiable, an end to the lockout could come sooner than expected. But if the players are frustrated with the owners' latest effort, it could be a while before the two sides talk again.