It has been more than three months since the MLB lockout started on Dec. 2. it finally came to an end on Thursday.
How did it get here? Why did it take so much time? Here are the highlights of the negotiations between the owners, players and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Updated March 10, 2022
The lockout has ended! Major League Baseball and MLB Players Association reached a tentative deal on a new labor agreement. sources tell ESPN's Jeff Passan. Although it is not yet ratified by both sides, that is expected be a formality.
Also, earlier in the morning, there was an agreementESPN reported that the MLBPA had reached an agreement with ESPN regarding the international draft. They have until July 25, according to ESPN. This would give them time to make a deal for an international draft that would take place in 2024.
Updated March 9, 2022
Major League Baseball canceled the second week of the regular season Wednesday after days of discussion with the MLB Players Association failed to generate a new collective-bargaining agreement. Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statementPostponement of Opening Day to April 14: “Regrettably after our second late-night negotiation session in a row, we remain without any deal.” The Players Association responded shortly after“Our top priority remains to finalize a fair contract that all Players can agree to, and we will continue negotiations towards that end,” he stated.
Major League Baseball, and the MLB Players Association plan to pick up talksAfter deep-into the-night talks that produced enough progress towards a possible deal for the league, Wednesday morning saw the signing of a new collective bargaining arrangement.
The bargaining process lasted nearly 17 hours, starting Tuesday morning and finishing at 3:00 a.m. ET provided some breakthroughs in the 97th MLB lockout day, but the union asked to meet with players leaders Wednesday before responding, an MLB official said.
Updated March 8, 2022
Major League Baseball plans to cancel another week of regular-season gamesIf the MLB Players Association doesn't reach an agreement by Tuesday night, it will.
Updated March 1, 2022
MLBPA player leaders agreed unanimously not to accept MLB's deadline proposal. At 5 p.m. ET news conference, Rob Manfred announced that the first two regular-season series had been canceled. Rob Manfred made the announcement at an ET news conference that the first two regular-season series were cancelled and would not be repeated.
After a 16-hour day of meetingsMajor League Baseball and MLB Players Association extended the deadline for a new collective agreement to save regular-season games being cancelled. It was moved to 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.
February 28, 2022 update
Despite a long day of conversationsAccording to a source within the union, there is still no agreement between MLBPA and MLBPA regarding a new collective bargaining arrangement. Due to the work stoppage, both sides will meet again Monday. This is the day MLB had set as the deadline for reaching a new collective bargaining agreement before Opening Day.
February 22, 2022 update
After being merged, the MLBPA and MLBPA are very much at odds beginning in-person negotiationsESPN has received information from sources that the meeting took place in Jupiter, Florida on Monday. They have a soft deadline on February 28th to start the season on schedule. The two sides will continue their talks at the spring-training home of the St. Louis Cardinals & Miami Marlins all week.
February 18, 2022 Update
MLB officially postponed all spring training games through at least Saturday, March 5. This announcement was made just over a week prior to the first Grapefruit League and Cactus League matchups. MLB stated:
“We regret having to delay the start of Spring Training games as a result of a lack of a collective bargaining arrangement. We will be able to resume them on Saturday, March 5. All 30 Clubs share the same strong desire to see players and fans back on the field. Fans who bought tickets from the Clubs for any Spring Training games have the option of getting full refunds. We will work together to find a fair agreement for each side. Members of the owners' negotiation committee will be present at an in-person meeting Monday with the Players Association. They will remain there every day next week, to continue negotiations and work hard for the start of the season.
Although exact plans are still not in place, MLB and the MLB Players Association have already begun to make preparations. intend to hold multiple bargaining sessionsSources told ESPN that it could be every day, but as soon as Monday. Multiple owners and players are expected to fly in to attend sessions leading up the February 28 deadline by MLB.
Opening Day: When should fans be concerned?
MLB has established a soft deadline to agree to a deal. Fans should be concerned if camps close before March 3.
Many pitchers and their agents felt that the 23 days that elapsed between the opening of summer camp (July 1st) and Opening Day (July 24, 2020) was not enough time to get ready for the start to the pandemic season in 2022. Sources in the league say that it will likely take four weeks to get ready for the 2022 regular season.
The sides may still agree to a shorter spring, just as they did two year ago. However, it is not impossible to keep Opening Day on the 31st of March. Players will also be paid $5,000 checks by the union if there is no agreement reached by March 1. They will be required to play in fewer than 162 games, or have a schedule that has modified roster limits. This is pretty much the end of the world.
February 14, 2022 Update
When were the two sides last reunited?
Major League Baseball made its latest proposal to the MLB Players Association on SaturdayThis was the 71st consecutive day that the league had locked out players. MLB made minor changes to the agreement. It added $2 million annually to the competitive balance taxes threshold in 2024 and 2025; provided two options for a minimum salary structure; increased its bonus pool to pre-arbitration players from 10 million to $15 million; and offered teams the opportunity to draft two picks.
When do they plan to meet again in the future?
At the moment, there is no plan for the next bargaining meeting. The league is expected to quickly respond to the union's proposal — the MLBPA could make an alternative proposal in the middle of this week.
Is it possible that the sides seem to be getting closer?
No. No. The players, however, were almost unanimously dissatisfied. Since March 2020 negotiations started, there has been no movement on core economic issues. This has galvanized players who believe that the financial boons they offer — expanded playoffs (12 teams compared to 14 the league asked for) and on-uniform advertisement — should have driven the league to move.
Yet, the ownership is holding firm on the most important matters, such as salaries and service-time manipulating (the league wants teams to avoid it) and competitive integrity. (MLB has suggested a three-pick lottery instead of the MLBPA's eight).
Isn't springtraining supposed to begin this week?
It is. Catchers and pitchers were expected to report to certain teams as early Tuesday as possible. Manfred did not announce that the league would be putting off spring training at the news conference last week. However, it was clear. Next is the postponement for spring training games which were scheduled to start Feb. 26. These are not happening — and MLB will have to actively cancel them in this instance, as tickets to the games have already been sold.
Which issues will the owners be most willing to compromise? What about the players?
MLB has gradually increased the minimum wage and accepted the pre-arb bonus pool. These numbers will grow. MLB dropped a draft-pick penalty for exceeding first CBT threshold. This indicated that MLB was willing to move in this area. However, the combination of small increases — MLB’s year-by–year first-threshold offer is $214 Million, $216 Million, $218million, $218million, $218million, $222 million and $222M — and the harsher financial penalties for exceeding them are significant points of contention.
The union is committed to changing two areas that MLB has called non-starters: revenue sharing for all players and salary arbitration after two years. The league prefers to retain its revenue-sharing program rather than accept the MLBPA’s offer of $30m less going to lower income teams. Additionally, it does not want to change the arbitration system which currently covers all players with more that three but less than six year of service as well the 22% of the Super 2s who have the most service (22%)
What should fans do?
Quite. MLB established a February 28 deadline for making a deal so that Opening Day can be saved. It's a soft deadline. Even if an agreement were reached on March 3, it is difficult to imagine that the league wouldn’t be ready for play by March 31. The agreement gives the two sides, who are not meeting often, two weeks to come up with a plan to close a huge financial gap. It's also palatable to both an angry group and a determined group of owners. This isn't 1994. It's not 1994, but it is starting to feel a lot like 1981 when a midseason strike by players canceled 713 games and wiped out more than a month.
February 10, 2022 Update
The third month of baseball's lockout has come to an end. Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke out publicly on Thursday, the first since the stoppage began.The status of spring training is no change right now“Yes,” Manfred responded to a question at the MLB owners meetings about a possible delay in opening camp next week.
The commissioner was asked if he believed that Opening Day would take place as planned on March 31. The commissioner responded: “I am an optimist and I believe that we will reach an agreement in the time it takes to play our regular season schedule.”
January 25, 2022 Update
Major League Baseball indicated for the first timeAccording to sources familiar with talks, it was open to a prearbitration bonus pool at Tuesday's labor meeting with the MLB Players Association. However, the sides are still far apart as to how much should they be divided.
Major League Baseball, and the MLB Players Association planned to meet again TuesdaySources told ESPN that Monday's bargaining session saw the first signs of progress since Dec. 2, when the league had locked out the players.
Jan. 24, 2022
When were the two sides last reunited?
Jan. 13, over Zoom, was the long-awaited first meeting after Major League Baseball locked out players. After 43 days without any action from both sides, the league presented an offer which included paying players between 2 and 3 years of service through a formula and rewarding teams that bring up top prospects by offering extra draft picks. There was also a slight modification to the proposed draft lottery. The league's suggestions were not well received by the players.
When do they plan to meet again in the future?
They will face each other for the first time since Dec. 1. On Monday, the MLB Players Association will likely counter the league’s proposal.
What can we expect to cover at the next meeting of the Advisory Board?
It is not clear what the union's proposal means. The players have been pushing for changes to the CBA since the beginning of negotiations, almost one year ago. Their desires include earlier free agency, arbitration, disincentivizing dumping, significant increases in competitive balance tax thresholds, an end to service-time manipulation, and revenue sharing.
Does this mean there is progress?
Possibly. This proposal by the union may lead to a deal. Ownership has been left to wonder what the union wants from this deal. It cannot gain in all areas by having one collective bargaining arrangement. This proposal could help the league to determine the priorities of players and accelerate negotiations. Otherwise, negotiations are likely not to move fast enough.
What should fans do?
On a scale 1-10, we are at a solid 4. MLB must reach a deal before the end of the first week in February if it wants to begin spring training as scheduled. That's two weeks after Monday. However, neither side seems to be particularly concerned about spring training starting late. This buys more time. March 1 is the real date to be concerned — when regular season is in danger — and that's around March 1. There is a chance that games will be delayed or lost if there isn’t a deal. Don't be surprised if there isn’t any progress over the next few weeks.
Jan. 13, 2022
Have the two sides met last week?
No. No. It is nearly a month-and-a-half since the sides could have been speaking. Or, to put it another way, the gap between Dec. 2 and today is larger than the gap between today and mid-February when pitchers and catchers will report to spring training.
Do they plan to meet next week?
Major League Baseball made Thursday its first labor proposal since locking out the players. It focused on a small set of issues that did not encourage players and increased the possibility of spring training being delayed, sources familiar with this situation told ESPN.
Is there any progress?
MLB had hoped that the proposal would encourage discussion with the union following the failed negotiations between the sides leading to the lockout. However, the results were largely disappointing for the players.
Do you have any new problems?
Let's expand on this. There's still a question about the balance between the sides' concern over low-performing teams. Players see the game's incentives to make teams lose. The owners with low revenues believe that less restrictions on their payroll makes them less competitive. When it comes to the core of the matter, will competition really be an issue for either side or is it purely about money?
Is there anything that could break this dam?
Multiple sources familiar with the discussions believe the competitive-balance-tax threshold could wind up as the main hinge point in negotiations. It is too soon to know if this will be the final piece before a new base agreement. However, if a deal does not result in a prolonged lockout it almost certain that the CBT floor will be raised from $210 millions.
Is there an official drop date for spring training games?
Games are set to start on February 26. There must be at least two weeks notice — although it is possible to extend this time. Foreign players will face significant visa issues. The process of getting domestic travel permits in place can take a few more days. You should also remember the COVID-19 protocols, which may take longer. It's not enough to mention the many free agents still in need of jobs, and the preparation work that pitchers will need when they start spring training. It would be much easier to reach an agreement before February 1. Remember: While teams may want to play spring training games, regular-season matches are far more important. far-far-far more.
What should fans do?
If you have plane tickets and hotel reservations in Arizona or Florida, it is a good idea to have travel insurance. Don't worry if you don't have tickets for Opening Day, which is in late March. These negotiations are best if there is time, even if each side has wasted six weeks.
Dec. 20, 2021
Have the two sides met recently?
Yes. Only on the minor or “noncoreeconomic” issues. This wouldn't necessarily include the lead negotiators of both sides. However, communication was at least possible. These non-core issues (which could include scheduling, the All-Star Game or drug and domestic abuse policies, grievance processes and special events) are worth discussing. But the only conversation that will lead to an end to the shutdown will be about the main economic issues that caused it.
Are they going to be reunited?
Nothing is set for Christmas week. But, this can change if either side has anything to add, change, or say about a proposition. Even then, the focus would most likely be on non-core topics.
Is there any progress?
So far, very little. January will be an important month for determining when the lockout expires. It is important to negotiate on core economic issues in the new year. While it's not clear if this will happen on January 2nd or Jan. 22nd, both sides cannot avoid the train from coming down the tracks (especially because spring training generally begins in February). One or both sides will have to compromise on a major issue in order to break the deadlock.
What type of major problem?
There is nothing major — it's the economic systems that have been in existence for decades. Sarcasm aside. There are many hot topics that need to be addressed, including years of free agency or the switch to an aged-based system, the arbitration system, and revenue sharing between clubs. I'll paraphrase: The players claim they are working under obsolete rules. But the league says that these are fundamental issues to how the game has played and have been for years. That is why there is a deadlock.
They can't compromise!
The union was not happy with the 2016 collective bargaining deal negotiations. They also said that the game has changed significantly since then. This year, players need to win. The league claims they've given them a few in form of a NBA-style draft lottery, and/or the elimination or compensation for draft picks. The union disagrees.
What should fans do?
It's not quite yet, but we'll learn more in a month.