The 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association expired late Wednesday night, prompting team owners to impose a lockout that took effect immediately.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred expressed disappointment that a work stoppage couldn’t be prevented in an open letter to fans, but called the procedure “defensive” and “necessary.”
He specifically placed the blame on the Players Association’s refusal to waver from “collectively the most extreme set of proposals in their history.”
Manfred’s writing was predictably met by pushback from MLBPA executive director Tony Clark. Lead negotiator Bruce Meyer expanded on that with a belief unreasonable proposals have come from MLB’s side, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
“Our proposal was to put it back where it used to be, where it was for I think approximately 15 years,” Meyer said. “So that’s not a radical proposal. We’ve made proposals to provide certain guys the ability to accrue service time in additional ways designed to combat service-time manipulation. Not a radical proposal.
“The radical proposals have come from the other side. The other side has proposed to completely eliminate salary arbitration, which is one of the signature accomplishments of this union, to replace it with a wage scale. … To extend the period of team control potentially for players far longer than they have the ability to control them now. To put in a new, even worse kind of (luxury) tax at the top.”
MLB and the MLBPA have long been at odds over various issues, including new rule changes, competitive integrity and service-time manipulation. Tensions have been particularly high since the two sides were unable to agree on an economics plan for the COVID-impacted 2020 season.
The consensus around baseball is that there won’t be a quick resolution, and the lockout will extend into 2022. At present time, Spring Training camps remain scheduled to open in February, but the Major League portion of the Winter Meetings was cancelled.
MLB proposed expanded postseason, draft lottery before lockout
In one of MLB’s final proposals before the lockout began, they reportedly called for an expanded postseason format that would have 14 total teams make the playoffs.
MLB also proposed a draft lottery system that would give every team that misses the playoffs a chance to get the top overall pick in the draft, similar to what the NHL and NBA already do.
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