MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) continue to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), but both sides still seem to be far apart. If a new deal is not in place by Dec. 1 at 8:59 p.m. PT, the league will enter into a lockout, which is the expectation.
The last time games were missed due to negotiations was during the 1994-95 players’ strike that lasted 232 days and resulted in the World Series getting cancelled. Both sides presumably would like to avoid such a fate, but the MLBPA is preparing for all scenarios.
In the event of a lockout, baseball transactions will freeze, players will not be paid and they will not be able to work out or train at team facilities.
However, players who are rehabbing injuries during the lockout will continue to receive pay and can access team facilities for rehab until the player is medically cleared, according to a guide sent to players and their agents, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
The MLBPA “will take the position, consistent with other sports unions in prior lockouts, that a player who is injured and unable to play at the time of the lockout must receive his pay and access to rehab until he is medically cleared.”
According to the guide, the Players’ Association will use funds from its reserves to pay for the continued coverage of health benefits for 40-man roster players “if a strike or lockout is ongoing when the 2022 season is scheduled to begin.”
The guide stipulates that players can play in independent and foreign leagues during a lockout, but aren’t allowed to work out at team facilities or team-organized workouts unless they are rehabilitating a baseball injury.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, this mostly affects Dustin May, Caleb Ferguson and Tommy Kahnle, along with Edwin Rios, who have all been rehabbing from surgery and should return at some point during 2022.
The guide also stated the MLBPA is focused on player compensation during their negotiations:
Lastly, the guide outlines the MLBPA’s priorities for this round of collective bargaining. “A broad assessment of our industry shows that player value and player compensation are not moving in the right direction,” it reads. “We have fundamental concerns about the integrity of the system as it is currently operating.”
This reiterates what MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said earlier this month about the focus being on financial compensation, along with competitive play.
With the current CBA, an increasing number of teams have been tanking as a way to save money during a rebuild instead of trying to field a competitive roster.
Such a strategy benefits only the team owner and hurts the on-field product. It also limits the number of jobs for veteran players, which in turn ends up cutting their salaries with limited markets for them.
The MLBPA argues this problem could be helped by encouraging teams — whether through the process to determine the draft order, revenue sharing, or some other means — to field competitive rosters instead of trying to tank.
The union would like to see players paid earlier in their career as the current process gives a club six years of control over before free agency becomes a factor. Included in that is arbitration, during which players can still be underpaid.
The system also encourages teams to hold their players back from making their debut too early in a season so they can essentially get seven years out of them.
Manfred: ‘offseason lockout’ different than ‘labor dispute’ for MLB
Although the league would not be required to impose a lockout if no new CBA agreement is reached by the deadline, it seems to be the most probable outcome.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred argues that an offseason lockout that moves them closer to an agreement is different than a labor dispute that costs games and questions why fans don’t understand that.
However, Manfred is ignoring that most fans don’t want the season to be put in jeopardy or wait longer for their teams to make offseason moves regardless of the reason.
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