With Major League Baseball’s winter meetings scheduled to start in less than a week, sources say club officials are aware of the possibility that teams won’t participate if there is not sufficient progress in the on-going collective bargaining discussions.

The current agreement expires December first, and the two sides are in negotiations in Dallas. The conversations have been far from seamless, and though sources on both sides believe the unsettled issues are not of such gravity that they threaten the integrity of the upcoming season, talks have progressed slowly.

If the owners take the formal step of locking out the players once the current agreement expires, teams likely would not send representatives to the winter meetings in Washington, D.C. Much of the work done at the annual winter meetings is based on the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, and without rules in place, the business of baseball would largely screech to a halt.

A lot of player agents and club evaluators believe the recent slowdown in the typical offseason movement is directly related to the growing uncertainty about the outcome and possible timing of the CBA discussions. “I think everybody is just waiting to see what happens,” one player representative said.

All told, there are several notable upcoming dates of importance, each of which will pressure the sides to come to an agreement. While the league and the MLB Player’s Association seem to be dug in on some matters, there’s also plenty of incentive for both to avoid a work stoppage and find common ground. That’s all the more true given that the issues reportedly still open for negotiation appear to represent a relatively small slice of the game’s growing financial pie.

Among the other topics still under discussion, the possibility of an international draft — which the league has pushed — has drawn strong pushback from the union. Indeed, several Latin American big leaguers reportedly made in-person appearances during talks today, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports in a series of tweets. While prior reports indicated that the league side was willing to scrap the qualifying offer system in exchange for the ability to institute a draft, the union appears to be taking a hard line on that particular issue.

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