Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gestures as he answers...

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gestures as he answers questions during a news conference after negotiations with the players' association toward a labor deal, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.  Credit: AP/Wilfredo Lee

Now what?

After nine consecutive days of negotiations, capped by a marathon 16-hour session followed by a deadline extension, Major League Baseball and the Players Association still departed Jupiter, Florida, without a new collective bargaining agreement.

The fallout from those failed talks, however, already is doing irreparable damage as commissioner Rob Manfred made good on his deadline pledge by canceling the first two series of the regular season, angering fans and renewing hostilities on both sides. The expectation is that discussions will resume at some point this week in New York, but the hopes of a deal sparing additional harm to the season seem to have faded.

Manfred came off terribly in Tuesday’s news conference, his ill-timed laughter taken as indifference [or worse] to erasing what is a total of 91 games from the schedule. The commissioner’s relationship with the players, already strained, has badly deteriorated during this lockout, now in its 91st day, and some have chosen to air their anti-Manfred sentiment on social media.

"I want to play, I love the game, but I know we need to get this CBA right," Mike Trout said on Twitter. "Instead of bargaining in good faith -- MLB locked us out. Instead of negotiating a fair deal -- Rob cancelled games. Players stand together. For our game, for our fans, and for every player who comes after us. We owe it to the next generation."

Trout, a three-time MVP universally hailed as the sport’s best player, owns the richest contract, a 12-year, $426.5-million deal signed before the 2019 season. For players like Trout, the daily salary lost to canceled games is astronomical, and Manfred has reiterated they will not be paid for them -- or given the opportunity to receive full compensation for the season. Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s executive council, will lose more than $230,000 each day baseball is not played.

Also, once Manfred began canceling games, that further complicated the efforts to start the season. Not only do the players intend to contest any money lost to the lockout, they will fight for the missed service time as well. As soon as 15 days are gone from the schedule, that would trigger a delay to the free agencies of such players as Shohei Ohtani (2023 to ’24) and Pete Alonso (2024 to ’25). The players had a similar battle with MLB during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which was only 60 games.

"To say they won’t reschedule games if games are canceled or they won’t pay players for those games that are canceled is solely their position," union negotiator Bruce Meyer said Tuesday. "We would have a different position."

Based on how the Jupiter negotiations ended, optimism for the shift to New York could be hard to muster. The two sides picked up the urgency working against Manfred’s initial Feb. 28 deadline for preserving a 162-game season, but there were vastly different viewpoints on how close they came to a potential deal.

After going until 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, MLB agreed to extend the deadline to 5 p.m. that same afternoon. After some early frustration, the owners delivered what they called a last, best offer and it was unanimously rejected by the players, who did not see meaningful movement on such key economic issues as the competitive balance tax, a prearbitration bonus pool and minimum salaries. The players believe that MLB’s proposals have come nowhere close to reflecting the revenue growth for the sport, or addressing competitive integrity, and they’ve also accused the owners of trying to break the union.

"We’ve seen free-agent markets not operate in the way we expect them to," said Andrew Miller, a member of the union’s executive council. "We’ve seen parts of the system not function the way they’re supposed to ... To have the difficulty getting to the table and actually communicating, you start to wonder exactly how you’re being looked at by the other side."

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