Activity in free agency has been more than anticipated, but business across the sport may soon come to a grinding halt if MLB and the Players Association are unable to align on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The current deal is set to expire at 8:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The league and MLBPA have exchanged proposals at various points over the year, but recent indications were little progress had been made.
Economics — specifically free agency — and potentially expanding the postseason are believed to be at the core of MLB and the MLBPA remaining at odds.
With just under two weeks until the current CBA will expire, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged the calendar is presenting a looming hurdle for negotiations, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
“We understand, I understand, that time is becoming an issue,” Manfred said. “That’s a challenge. We’ve had challenges with respect to making labor agreements before, and we got a pretty good track record of overcoming those challenges. I can tell you from the clubs’ perspective, we’re committed to continuing to offer proposals and suggestions in an effort to get to an agreement before December 1.”
If MLB and the union are unable to reach an agreement on a new CBA, the expected course of action is team owners will lock out players.
Such would halt free agency and represent the league’s first stoppage since the 1994-95 players’ strike that lasted 232 days and led to an unplayed World Series. The last lockout came in 1990.
Agreements were reached before the expiration of the CBA on Oct. 24 in 2006, on Nov. 22 in 2011, and Nov. 30 in 2016.
Clark: MLBPA focused on competitiveness, free agency in talks with MLB
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark recently explained the union’s primary focus in labor negotiations is making the game more competitive and allowing players to be better compensated by reaching free agency earlier in their career.
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