Spring training is expected to begin on Feb. 16, with the first Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues set to start ten days later. Opening Day is set for March 31 as major free agents are still out on the market. MLB insider Tim Kurkjian says it is getting late fast.
MLB Lockout Issues
There is still plenty of work to be done with major disagreements. Most of them are based on arbitration eligibility, service-time manipulation, revenue sharing, tanking and the luxury-tax threshold.
In 2020, after the MLB season resumed, there was a three-week spring training which would likely be minimum. That would make an agreement necessary by the start of March for the season to start on time. If spring training is delayed, there will also be major questions about a 162 game schedule. The league set up seven-inning doubleheaders in the past, but that was due to COVID-19.
Affect of Delayed Spring Training
One effect of the lockout and the delayed spring training will be on free agency. While there was a wave of players signed prior to the lockout, many players are still without a team. For many minor league players that are hoping for better compensation, a shortened spring training will drastically affect their chances of making a big-league roster.
The biggest effect of delayed or shortened spring training will be on the pitchers. As most teams do, they try to stretch out their pitchers as the season approaches. If spring training is postponed or delayed, it is likely to see many starting pitchers begin the season on pitch counts. The two sides will meet again on Wednesday when they discuss non-core economic issues as it gets late quickly.