White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito expects he’ll be getting an influx of text messages from his teammates soon.
He’s the team’s MLB Players Association representative. And with the Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire on Dec. 1, reports of a likely work stoppage have been swirling.
“Both sides, we want to get something done,” Giolito said on Thursday. “No one wants baseball to stop.”
Is he confident they can come to an agreement quickly enough to start Spring Training on time?
“We’ll see,” he said. “… I don’t think that it’s smart to bring what we’re trying to do on both sides into the media and throw that kind of stuff around. We’re all working very hard to make something happen.”
The White Sox had previously split MLBPA duties among several player reps. But this was the first year Giolito took sole responsibility of the position, he said.
“It’s obviously quite the time to be coming into that role, and I’ve been learning a ton,” he said.
He’s been attending meetings and reading up on players union history. He’s picked the brains of the MLBPA executive subcommittee members, eight players who have been elected by their peers.
Andrew Miller and Max Scherzer are the association player representatives, with Francisco Lindor and Marcus Semien serving as association alternates. Zack Britton and James Paxton are pension committee representatives, with Jason Castro and Gerrit Cole as pension alternates.
“Very knowledgeable, very well-spoken about these matters,” Giolito said of the group. “I look up to those guys. I want to continue to learn, I want to continue to grow in that area, continue to build my knowledge base. Hopefully when I'm in my 30s, mid-30s, I can step into that role and help the younger generation.”
In the meantime, Giolito is getting quite the crash course. Tensions between the league and the players association played out publicly last year, as they negotiated over returning to play after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down spring training. In the end, they came to a stalemate, and without an agreement, Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a 60-game season.
This winter, MLB and its players union are bargaining over far more than a temporary arrangement.
“When I think back to basketball, football, even hockey, fans want the sport to continue,” Giolito said. “They want the sport to grow. Any time there's a work stoppage, it prevents that. While that kind of stuff can be necessary sometimes, it doesn't matter who they side with, a fan is never going to be happy when they're worried that the season might not happen or the season might be cut short.
“That's why I think it's imperative that we continue to have that good communication and try to get something done."
The clock is ticking. The two sides have less than a month left before the current CBA expires.