The MLB has just experienced its first work stoppage since 1994. The existing CBA, or Collective Bargaining Agreement, that controls every aspect of relationships between players and team owners, expired on Wednesday, December 1st, at 11:59pm. This resulted in the league locking out its players, and the decision for the lockout was made by owners, as compared to a strike which is orchestrated by players. This move was hinted at for about a month by commissioner Rob Manfred, and although it was expected it’s still pretty surprising. The main reason for this lockout is because owners don’t want the offseason to continue without a new CBA.
The last time a work stoppage happened, in 1994, it resulted in a strike that ended up canceling the World Series. Rob Manfred released a tweet explaining the lockout, “Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season. We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.” It should also be noted that officials said the lockout was not required, yet it was referred to as a, “drastic measure, regardless of timing.”
There have been multiple CBA expirations in the past decade, but the league was able to work through them. However tension over the economic ground that players have lost in the past couple years have come to a head. The MLB hopes that the lockout will create a new agreement and restructure the economic side of the game.
Since the season ended, free agency was some teams top priority, like the Texas Rangers. They signed shortstop Corey Seager to a 10 year, $325 million dollar contract, while also signing second baseman Marcus Semien to a 7 year, $125 million dollar contract. Another big name in Max Scherzer signed with the New York Mets on a 3 year, $130 million dollar contract. These were the biggest signings to happen before the lockout, but there are still some big names out there. One of the biggest being first baseman Freddie Freeman. Freeman’s rookie contract with the Atlanta Braves expired after last season, however many fans expected him to be back. It was very surprising to see the Braves not lock him up before the lockout hit. It is expected that the lockout will last until at least February, so until then we won’t know anything about what these players are thinking about.
MLB officials are using this lockout time to discuss what the game will be like moving forward. There have been conversations about adding a salary cap, changing the way the draft functions, and changing the playoff set up, however nothing major has happened yet.