MLB delays start of spring training until March 5; CBA negotiations resume Monday

Spring training games won't begin until at least March 5, Major League Baseball announced in a statement on Friday.

"We regret that, without a collective bargaining agreement in place, we must postpone the start of spring training games," the statement said. "All 30 clubs are unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands.

"We are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to each side. On Monday, members of the owners' bargaining committee will join an in-person meeting with the Players Association and remain every day next week to negotiate and work hard towards starting the season on time."

Owners locked out the players in December after the last collective bargaining agreement expired, as negotiations for a new agreement haven't proven fruitful so far -- talks on Thursday broke off after just 15 minutes, sources told ESPN.

Talks between the league and the players union should intensify next week as the deadline to start the regular season on time looms. Negotiations are scheduled for Monday -- just the seventh time that the two sides have gotten together since the lockout began Dec. 2.

Spring camps were set to open this week, with games starting on Feb. 26, but all of that is on hold.

"MLB announced today that it 'must' postpone the start of spring training games. This is false," the MLBPA said in its statement Friday. "Nothing requires the league to delay the start of spring training, much like nothing required the league's decision to implement the lockout in the first place. Despite these decisions by the league, players remain committed to the negotiating process."

The league has previously stated they would prefer about four weeks of spring training, so camps would need to open by early March in order to start the regular season on time.

The sides are far apart on a number of issues including revenue sharing between the clubs, service time for players to enter the arbitration system, the amount of money in a pre-arbitration bonus pool and the thresholds and penalties for the competitive balance tax.

The last time spring and regular season games were missed -- outside of the COVID-19 pandemic -- came during the player's strike which began in 1994 and carried over to 1995. The 1995 season opened on April 25 and went for 144 games.

Fans who had purchased tickets to spring training games that will not be played have an option for a full refund, MLB said in its statement.