MLB lockdown ends as MLBPA, owners reach CBA deal: Five takeaways with baseball set to return

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement Thursday for a new collective bargaining agreement, ending the lockout imposed by the league owner.

The union voted to approve a new proposal by a margin of 26 to 12 (a simple majority, or 20 votes, was all that was needed for the new agreement to pass, but it should be noted that the eight members of the sub -executive committee all voted no). The owners ratified the new five-year CBA on Thursday night, voting 30-0 in favor. MLB offseason activities (trades and free agency) are expected soon. Players will report to spring training in the coming days, and MLB teams are expected to play a full 162-game season in 2022. Opening day is April 7, according to CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden.

The lockout ended on its 99th day. The owners first declared the lockout on Dec. 2, when the old CBA expired, marking MLB’s first work stoppage since the 1994-95 players’ strike. Although the league called the act a defensive mechanism that it hoped would speed up negotiations, the owners then waited more than six weeks to make their first proposal. The talks finally heated up during the last week of February, when the two sides met daily in Florida. An agreement was reached on Thursday after hours of negotiations this week in New York.

Here are some of the notable details reported from the accepted proposal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:

  • CBT threshold: $230 million in 2023 and peaks at $244 million in the ABC’s final year
  • CBT Penalty Level: the introduction of a new level that starts at $60 million above the threshold (the highest level was previously at $40 million above the threshold);
  • Minimum wage: $700,000 and peaks at $780,000 in the ABC’s final year;
  • Pre-Arb Bonus Pool: $50 million
  • Post-season format: 12 teams

Commissioner Rob Manfred previously announced the cancellation of the first two weeks of the 2022 regular season when talks stalled, but all games are back on the schedule. Opening day was originally scheduled for March 31, and the games lost in the first week will be made up for by holidays and doubleheaders.

Throughout the process, the union sought to raise the league’s minimum wage and competitive balance tax thresholds; establish a centralized bonus pool for pre-arbitration players that would be performance-based; and introduce certain measures that would curb anti-competitive behavior, such as tanking. The owners, for their part, prioritized an expanded post-season, an international draft and the power to change the rules, including, potentially, installing a pitch clock and larger bases, as well as the restriction of defensive positioning.

It was the first lockout in league history that compromised the regular season.

Here are five takeaways from the new ABC.

1. The case took a scenic route

It took 99 days from the start of the lockout (December 2) for an agreement to be reached, making it the longest lockout in league history, as well as the first to jeopardize the regular season. (The previous record belonged to the 1990 lockout which lasted 32 days.)

The owners waited more than six weeks after placing the padlock to make their first offer to players. The two sides then met here and there, but it wasn’t until late February that they began to meet several times, in person, on a day-to-day basis.

The league officially canceled the first two series of the season on March 1, but the teams remained committed and continued to meet the artificial deadline imposed by the league after the artificial deadline imposed by the league. Even Thursday, the league had set a 3 p.m. ET “deadline” that passed without players voting to ratify or reject the deal, which included a provision that will see the union drop a grievance against the league stemming from of the shortened 2020 season. . (The union had alleged that the league chose to play fewer games than it could have.)

Despite all the public bickering and false start negotiations, the league and union were able to preserve the 162-game season, albeit in a modified format.

2. More money for young players

One of the main objectives of the union in these negotiations was to reward players who were at the start of their careers. The way MLB’s compensation system is set up, players who have less than three years of service are essentially guaranteed to earn no more than the league minimum, regardless of how well they play.

The new ABC not only increased the league minimum by more than $100,000 (it was $575,500 in 2021), but it introduced the pre-arbitration bonus pool, funded at $50 million. Players who are not yet eligible for Arbitration will have a chance to win additional money based on their rank in Wins Above Substitution. It won’t give them market value, or anything close to it, but it’s a huge boost for talent who would otherwise be significantly underpaid relative to their performance. During negotiations, it was proposed that the pool money be split among the top 30 WAR-based pre-arbitration players.

3. It’s now a 12-team post-season

Since the Wild Card Game’s inception in 2012, 10 teams have made the playoffs every year except for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. This number will now increase to 12 teams. (The owners had been pushing for a 14-team format.) Exact details are unknown, but the league had resisted the “phantom victory” approach used in Japan and South Korea.

4. There will be uniform rule changes and fixes

This aforementioned 2020 season also included Universal DH. Sure enough, this CBA will make it the new norm, creating 15 new starting jobs for players in the process. As part of the deal, the league was granted authority to implement rule changes for the 2023 season, including a kick-off clock; restrictions on defensive positioning; and the installation of larger bases for health and safety purposes. Two field rules from the past two seasons, seven-inning doubles and a runner on second base to start extra innings, are not part of the new deal.

Tanking has become a hot topic in baseball over the past decade. This ABC will at least attempt to minimize this behavior by implementing a six-team lottery. The CBA also encourages teams to promote their top prospects when they’re ready, rather than when it’s financially most practical, with draft pick rewards. Players will also have a limited number of times they can be picked in a single season.

In addition to the expanded playoffs, the league will create a new revenue stream by allowing teams to feature advertising patches on their jerseys and decals on their helmets, per ESPN.

5. The international draft will spur more talks

As mentioned elsewhere, the two parties have agreed to continue discussing the international project, with a deadline at the end of July. If they can agree on a structure, then the draft selection compensation will disappear. Otherwise, draft selection compensation will be reactivated and the international amateur process will remain unchanged.

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