Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached a tentative agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement Thursday, ending the league's 99-day lockout of the players and salvaging a 162-game season, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
The end of the second-longest stoppage of work in the history of baseball means spring training camps will be open Sunday. Free-agent signings are expected and trades will be made. Baseball will also attempt to regain some normalcy after months and months of difficult negotiations.
After talks intensified this week, the league presented a proposal to bridge the large gap in competitive-balance taxes, which was a crucial issue at the end of negotiations. The league was threatened by a dispute over the international draft and had to “remove” two more series Wednesday. However, those issues were resolved and the league presented a complete proposal to the union on Thursday. It voted to accept it.
While the basic agreement covers most aspects of the game's play, the labor negotiations focused on baseball's core economics. CBT will also be increased. The minimum salary for players with less than three years' major league service will increase from $570,500 up to $700,000. This will rise to $780,000. A bonus pool of $50 million will be distributed to younger players who are yet to reach salary arbitration.
MLB had requested that the MLBPA expand the postseason to 12 players — which was accepted by the MLBPA. Player uniforms will also feature advertising, including patches on jerseys as well as decals on batting helmets.
Other aspects of the deal include:
• A 45-day window for MLB to implement rules changes — among them a pitch clock, ban on shifts and larger bases in the 2023 season
• The National League adopting the designated hitter
• A draft lottery implemented with the intent of discouraging tanking
• Draft-pick inducements to discourage service-time manipulation
• Limiting the number of times a player can be optioned to the minor leagues in one season
The talks on a new base agreement started last year. They progressed slowly until the Dec. 1 expiration. The union and league made no progress over the months preceding, and Rob Manfred, commissioner, locked out all players at midnight on December 2. After a 43-day delay in negotiations, spring training opened in mid-February. The gaps between the parties became so large that there was a greater chance of losing regular-season matches.
Manfred's decision to cancel Opening Day one week ago upset players who, following a 2016 deal that had severe economic consequences, wanted to make significant financial gains after 2022. Despite growing revenues of $10.7 billion in 2019, player salaries have declined over the last four seasons. Players found it a rallying call in the significant increase in franchise values, which has almost quadrupled since the previous two basic agreements.
However, the league refused to accept the enormous gains that players were hoping for. It was able to push for lower year over year raises for younger players. However, the CBT's guarantees for older players were only around $100 million. The uncapped system in the game allows teams and leagues to spend less on older players to offset these added costs.
Baseball, which is still looking for resonance in an entertainment and sporting universe with endless viewing possibilities, managed to avoid the doomsday scenario that would have seen a prolonged work stoppage that wipes out a significant portion of the season. The next phase is a frenetic free-agent period, which will see the return of a star shortstop. Carlos Correa– First Baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Trevor StoryServe a pitcher Clayton KershawThird baseman Kris BryantOther players could also sign. Oakland A's may trade the first baseman Matt OlsonThird baseman Matt ChapmanThere are many starting pitchers.
Even though a March 31 Opening Day is unlikely, the baseball team will be back in April, hoping for five more years of peace and prosperity, five more years of good fortune, and five more years to end this winter's misery.