The second week of February has brought increasing doubt that MLB spring training will not start on time. The CBA negotiations between the league and the MLBPA have been largely unproductive. MLB’s lockout doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is weary that regular season games might be cancelled.
“In 2020, obviously [there was] the pandemic, but playing a 60-game season wasn’t good for anyone. It wasn’t good for the players. It wasn’t good for the owners. So I hope everyone realizes that the best thing for everyone, especially our fans, who are the most important people in all this, is to play a full 162-game season.”
Turner’s fears are justified. The owners communicated to the MLBPA in January that the league is prepared to cancel regular season games over their differences on outstanding topics.
One topic the players are focused on in the CBA negotiations is heavily discouraging teams from tanking. Turner and other veteran players have grown increasingly frustrated with the practice of smaller market clubs, like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, cashing revenue sharing checks rather than signing better players.
Justin Turner highlighted the competition issue as well.
“At the end of the day, we just want competition. We want 30 teams that go out and try to win a championship. Hopefully, we’re making some progress in that department.”
Both teams spent next to nothing in terms of team payroll in 2021 and it showed. The Orioles ($42.4M) finished 52-110, 48 games out of first place in the AL East. The Pirates ($54.4M) compiled a putrid 61-101 record and completed the season 34 games behind the first place Brewers.
Turner and the vast majority of MLB players are hopeful the regular season starts on time and teams are trying to win ballgames, not just watch their bank accounts.