Let the Lockout End, and Let Baseball Begin

On the 99th day of the owner imposed lockout, after all of the negotiations, bargaining sessions and a 3 month wait, it was announced on March 3/10 that there will be a full, 162- game baseball season in 2022. 

Over a week after MLB’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, canceled the first two series of the season and one day after he canceled the next two series, a deal has finally been agreed upon between the MLB owners and the player’s union and opening day will be on April 7th. 

After a marathon bargaining session on Tuesday, March 8th that seemed to put more optimism forth toward a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement), it was held back on Wednesday when neither side could reach a deal on an international draft and were still apart on key economic issues including the CBT (competitive balance threshold— also called the luxury tax) and the arbitration pool. Following that, on Thursday, sessions continued throughout the morning and in the afternoon, both sides agreed to a deal on the international draft— agreeing to a deadline of July 25th to decide on it— that could be implemented as early as 2024. “Under the league’s proposal, the draft would be a 20-round, hard-slot system for 16-year-olds outside the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.”, wrote Alden Gonzalez from ESPN. 

The agreement on the international draft was what pushed negotiations to continue all afternoon on Thursday until the CBA was agreed upon in the late afternoon. The CBA was ratified at 6 PM on Thursday and hence, MLB’s second longest work stoppage in the game’s history came to an end. In a press conference held afterwards, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, said that he “could not be more excited about the future of our game”. 

Following the signing of the new CBA. Following that, he also stated “One of the things that I’m supposed to do is promote a good relationship with our players…I’ve tried to do that. I think that I have not been successful in that. I think that it begins with small steps. It’s why I picked the phone up after the ratification and called Tony and expressed my desire to work with him. It’s gonna be a priority of mine moving forward to try to make good on the commitment I made to him on the phone.” Manfred has also vowed to work more closely with the MLBPA and the executive director Tony Clark on bridging more gaps. 

Some of the biggest changes within the new CBA containing key economic issues is that minimum salaries for players in 2022 will start at $700,000 and go up to $780,000 over the next five years. The CBT— that would tax big-spending franchises who surpass their threshold— will start at $230 million in 2022 and go up to $244 million by 2026. Lastly, a $50 million player pool reward for pre-arbitration players who excel will be implemented in 2022. 

Other notable changed with the new CBA is an extended postseason, going from 10 teams to 12, a universal DH (designated hitter), a provision that will prevent teams from optioning eligible players more than five times per season, and measures taken to limit service time manipulation: a full year of service time awarded to those who finish within the top two spots in Rookie of the Year voting in both leagues and draft picks to teams who promote players on Opening Day and finish among the top votings in the major league awards. Some other rules that will be implemented in the 2023 season include a ban of the shift, pitch clocks and bigger base sizes.  

It almost seems like a sense of urgency to get the season started was what motivated the player’s union and the owners to get a deal done With the owner imposed “deadline” on February 28th, neither side seemed panicked to force a deal, the union waited a week after the MLB proposed their “best and final offer” in Florida, and MLB turned around with a better deal that was negotiable with the players. Increased urgency as games kept slipping away week by week to a point where it was in question if we would even get a full 162 game season. “It turns out this was what was needed after months of stalled negotiations. The union’s calmness in the face of the “deadlines” proved fruitful.” And to that point, now we get to get back to the sport we all love and have missed so dearly (at least I have). It feels great to say that baseball is finally back. 

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