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Arizona Diamondbacks – possible lockout looms

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Paul Goldschmidt is the Arizona player representative. (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)
Paul Goldschmidt is the Arizona player representative. (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The program ahead for Mike Hazen, general of the Arizona Diamondbacks, may be placed on hold

Just as Mike Hazen, the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, prepares to speed into the off-season, his agenda may be halted in its tracks.

That’s because the current bargaining agreement between Major League baseball players and management is set to expire. That would be this coming Wednesday night, Nov. 30 at midnight, and neither side had offered much comment on the pace and substance of negotiations. At the core, players would be locked out of all major league facilities and the business of the game grinds to a pronounced halt.

This deadline could not have come a worse time for the game.

At the end of the 2015 calendar year, the last year in which figures are available, Forbes magazine estimated revenues generated by Major League Baseball approached $9.5 billion. These numbers were produced before the Chicago Cubs’ World Series run and the increase of viewership to the World Series itself.

Now, ownership of certain clubs, including the Phillies and Diamondbacks, will benefit from new television deals and have the ability to compete aggressively in the free agent marketplace.

This growth and new excitement for the game comes in a tenuous position. While no major issues appear to drive the parties apart, there could be difference.

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The players are meeting in Dallas, beginning Monday and through Wednesday. It’s likely their number one topic could be the international market. The owners would like to institute an international draft, and the players have not signed off. That would limit free agency among international players and an issue both sides would need to resolve.

Last March, a pre-season game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team transpired in Havana. Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks’ player representative, was asked during last spring training whether the players support a further international presence.

“We’re too close to talking with the owners,” he said at that time. “Until there is an agreement, I have no comment on this.”

Then, there are the usual issues of revenue-sharing, and how to split an increasing pool of money between teams in large markets and teams in smaller markets.

If talks fail and there is a lockout, the business of baseball screeches to a halt. That would immediately impact possible trades, players conducting off-season workouts at stadium and spring training sites, and free agents exploring the open markets. Directly, the logout effects Arizona right-hander Daniel Hudson, who is the only member of the Diamondbacks in this off-season who is an unrestrictive free agent.

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For now, baseball has enjoyed 21 years of peace and prosperity. That remains in stark contrast with the tumultuous years from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. That included the strike year of 1994 in which the World Series was cancelled and the rise of Marvin Miller to head the players’ union.

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