The MLB players union on Friday rejected MLB's request for a federal mediator to join the sport's labor negotiations, one day after the league submitted the request.
The news suggests in the strongest terms yet that at least spring training will be delayed, if not the start of the regular season.
Mediation requires approval from both sides. The union released a statement announcing the decision:
"Two months after implementing their lockout, and just two days after committing to Players that a counterproposal would be made, the owners refused to make a counter, and instead requested mediation," the statement reads.
"After consultation with our Executive Board, and taking into account a variety of factors, we have declined this request.
"The clearest path to a fair and timely agreement is to get back to the table. Players stand ready to negotiate."
MLB also released a statement Friday.
"Our goal is to have players on the field and fans in the ballparks for Spring Training and Opening Day," the statement reads, in part.
"With camps scheduled to open in less than two weeks, it is time to get immediate assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help us work through our differences and break the deadlock."
The players made their latest economic proposal when the two sides met Tuesday. MLB initially said it would make a counterproposal but instead opted to seek mediation.
The league and union went over a month without meeting after MLB implemented the lockout on Dec. 2. They're far apart on key economic issues, including the luxury tax, revenue sharing and minimum player salaries.