MLB Lockdown Explained: All About Baseball’s Planned Work Stoppage In 2021 | Latest News Headlines

MLB Lockdown Explained: All About Baseball’s Planned Work Stoppage In 2021

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The inevitable has happened, baseball fans. For a few years now, most athletes expected that the imminent expiry of the collective agreement between the players and the owners would be the cause of great discord, to the point that a work stoppage was very possible.

To avoid this kind of offseason disruption would have required significant concessions on both sides, the kind of compromise neither side was likely to agree to until the last possible moment. And the truth is, December 2 is not the last possible moment.

MORE: MLB Free Agency Tracker: The Latest Rumors & Offers

So we are there, a few hours from an expected lockout. Here’s what you need to know.

Why could there be an MLB foreclosure?

The Nuts and Bolts: The collective bargaining agreement formed by the MLB owners and the MLB Players Association in 2016 had a four-year term and expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on December 1. If that deadline passes without a new deal, as expected by almost everyone in baseball, owners have essentially two choices: They can continue their business as usual, under the terms of the expired deal, and continue to negotiate. with MLBPA in hopes of reaching a new deal at some point in the future. Or, they can impose a foreclosure, creating a sense of urgency for both parties to strike a deal.

“We have taken this route,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in mid-November, as reported by The Athletic. “We found ourselves locked out in 89-90. We decided to go down the road (to continue negotiating) in 1994. I don’t think 94 worked too well for anyone. I think when you watch other sports the model has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of an actual disruption to the season. “

During the lockdown, no major league free agent can sign and no trades can be made. Players do not have access to any sort of team facilities, which is particularly inconvenient for those recovering from serious injuries. Basically, no person employed by a team in a non-playing capacity can have any kind of communication with the players. Free agents who haven’t signed yet and players who expect to be traded – lots of A’s and Reds in this mix, in particular – are just stuck in limbo. And teams with urgent roster needs that they didn’t address in November – hey, Yankees and Phillies! – can talk to each other as much as they want about what they could do, but they can’t really make a difference.

What the MLBPA wants

Let’s start with a quote from Max Scherzer, the three-time winner Cy Young who is on the eight-player MLBPA executive subcommittee, taken from an article in The Athletic :, this is the only way for me to put my name on it.

First of all, the competition: tanking is a problem. Too many teams in any given year just aren’t trying to win, and not just all-out tankers. And, to some extent, who can blame them? If they cut their roster to the bare minimum, not only do they save on payroll – it’s easier to lose 105 games with minimum wage players – but they are rewarded with a high draft pick next season. This acceptance of losing has shrunk the market for veteran players who can still contribute. If the goal is only 70 wins, why pay a free agent $ 6.5 million per season when a rookie is better for the overall plan at $ 570,000? So, yes, players hate to tank.

Regarding the issue of young players, as it stands, most players are only eligible for salary arbitration after their third season and are not eligible to become a free agent until after their sixth season. . Teams basically have full control over wages for the first three years, and arbitration is an overwhelming process, resulting in wages well below what they would demand in the free market. One obvious solution – one that owners wouldn’t like – is to reduce the time it takes to reach arbitration and free agency.

And there are other things as well. Not only is the MLBPA cap decidedly anti-wage, they want the Competitive Balance Tax (aka the Luxury Tax) to come close to what incomes have seen in the past five or six years. The practice of manipulating serve time is lousy and underhanded, and players will be arguing for language to prohibit this practice.

MORE: How much does adding a Cy Young winner help a team improve?

What MLB Owners Want

The owners have “won” the last rounds of CBA negotiations, most people on both sides will tell you, so their main goal is to keep most things on track. One of the most important elements is the extension of the playoffs. More playoff teams and more playoff games mean more money, both game-related income and bigger TV deals. Owners got a taste of what it might look like during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, even though there were no fans in the stands selling tickets and concessions. Don’t expect anything similar to this year’s 16-team playoff pitch, but expect the owners to push hard for a 14-team pitch, or at least a 12-team setup, supplanted by the 10 current teams.

As always, owners want to limit the amount spent on players, but it’s an interesting dynamic between “richer” teams and “poorer” franchises. Left to their own devices, some owners will chase their targeted players in free agency, regardless of the cost. Owners at the lower end of the spectrum want to prevent these other owners from doing it because it excludes them from the best players. Remember Hall of Famer Tom Glavine quote in a story earlier this week about the 1994-’95 strike?

“During the last strike, we never asked for more money. We never asked to be paid more. We just didn’t want a salary cap, ”Glavine said. “Pay us what you want to pay us, but we didn’t want to put in place a system that artificially helped owners control themselves in an environment they wouldn’t otherwise have. “

What both parties want

Just to show that there is a bit of middle ground, it should be noted that both sides are in favor of adding the designated hitter to the full-time National League, which is why everyone has a long time assumed he would be part of this next ACA. And, rest assured, it is. It’s a concept commonly referred to as Universal DH because baseball likes to make everything sound a little grander than it actually is (like, you know, the “World” series, even though only the northern teams -American women are eligible for this title).

For National League owners, the idea of ​​replacing batting pitchers with real hitters is appealing as they look for ways to increase the offense – and excitement – of games. Additionally, the idea of ​​losing a high-priced pitcher to IL due to an injury sustained at home plate or while running has become an unacceptable scenario.

For MLBPA, it’s basically adding 15 more jobs for position players. Of course, not all teams will employ a DH full-time, but owners will build their rosters during the offseason – and trade deadline – with the DH as part of the equation.

So why isn’t the Universal DH already here? Because, even if both parties wish, it remains a negotiation. We had DH in NL during the pandemic shortened 2020 season, as a player safety issue. He was absent from 2021 because the owners allegedly used him as a bargaining chip. And with this CBA negotiation looming, players weren’t about to treat it as something they just wanted.

Is there a chance the MLB season will be called off?

It seems highly unlikely. While there are many, many issues to be resolved, there doesn’t seem to be anything that would cause the parties to do anything stupid (just be blunt) like this. In the 1994 dispute, the owners intended to install a salary cap, and the players flatly refused. Neither would budge (the deal ended up being done without a cap, as you know). There is nothing like it in this one.

And both teams appear determined to avoid even a few lost games, let alone an entire season. Manfred said so when speaking to reporters in November, when he spoke about the likelihood of enforcing a lockout as soon as the CBA expires. “That’s what it’s all about: it’s about avoiding hurting the season. “

When can the lockdown end?

This is the most relevant question. Don’t expect a resolution anytime soon. As we discussed earlier this week, the free agent frenzy in the days leading up to the CBA’s expiration was a pretty clear sign that both sides are ready to dig for a long, cold winter. I’d be shocked if that happened before Christmas, and pleasantly surprised if a deal were made before the 2022 Class Hall of Fame vote results were revealed at the end of January.

Pitchers and receivers should show up for spring training in mid-February (here’s a countdown!) If that extends into March, you’re considering either a shortened regular season schedule or a regular season schedule. which is postponed compared to the opening day scheduled for March 31.

Take the 1990 lockout as an example. The collective agreement expired on December 31, 1989 and the owners officially began their lockout on February 15. Finally, on March 19, an agreement was reached. Spring training was cut dramatically and the season started a week late on April 9.

A big difference this time around: after all the lost income (ticket sales, etc.)

When was the last MLB work stoppage?

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? The last work stoppage was the players’ strike which canceled the 1994 World Series and reduced the 1995 season to 144 games. It was, by far, the worst labor dispute incident in baseball history, but it is far from the only one. Here’s a comprehensive look at owner-versus-player stoppages since the first in 1972.

What is the difference between a lockout and a strike?

A lockout means the property says “you can’t work for us until you agree to a new deal”. A strike is the employees (the players, in this case) saying “we won’t work for you until you agree to a new deal.”

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