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Why this week is most important of MLB lockout

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Just how important is this week for labor negotiations as MLB's lockout nears the end of its third month?

The short answer: Every week is more important than the last the longer this thing drags on.

But MLB and the players union plan to meet every day this week for the first time since the lockout began in early December, and many seem to agree a deal needs to be struck by the end of the month for the regular season to start on time as scheduled.

"I am an optimist, and I believe we will have an agreement in time to play our regular schedule," commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters earlier this month when asked if he thinks Opening Day will happen as scheduled March 31.

Stay tuned.

The league and union will meet Monday in Florida, the seventh negotiating session of the lockout, and are prepared to meet all week in an effort to reach a labor agreement.

RELATED: Lockout timeline: Spring training games postponed

There's still a long way to go to resolve major issues, including the luxury tax — the biggest issue — and paying younger players more.

The league-implemented lockout has already delayed the start of big league spring training, and MLB postponed the first week of the exhibition slate. Games will start no earlier than March 5.

 

The lockout is the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history, behind the 1994-95 players strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series and cost more than two months of regular season games between the two seasons.

Manfred has said losing regular season games due to the lockout would be "disastrous." In a nutshell, that's what's at stake this week.

MLB could lift the lockout at any time, which would allow spring training to commence and the regular season to start on time. But the league has shown no willingness to do so, as it would open the door for the union to vote to strike.

MORE: How lockout likely to end, according to labor lawyer

So, the end of February is seen as the deadline for a deal for Opening Day to happen as scheduled. Manfred has said the league estimates needing four weeks of spring training, and less than a week to open camps, after reaching a labor agreement.

If they're going to get a deal done to preserve a full regular season, it has to happen this week.

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