New MLB CBA: Spring Training, Free Agency & Opening Day Details

After collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations stalled at another MLB-imposed deadline on Wednesday, the league and Players Association (MLBPA) resumed talks the following morning in effort to clear the latest hurdle.

While the focal point of CBA negotiations had long been centered around core economics of the sport, instituting an international draft in exchange for dropping the qualifying offer aspect as part of free agency became the latest sticking point.

MLB and the union agreed on Thursday morning to delay a final decision on the international draft until July 25, which allowed for negotiations to resume. Hours later the MLBPA voted to accept MLB’s most recent CBA proposal.

While the deal still must be formally approved by team owners and then ratified, the expectation is for Spring Training camps to open this weekend and Opening Day of the regular season will likely be Thursday, April 7, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

MLB managing to start the regular season just one week later than originally scheduled will allow for all 162 games to be played. That is instrumental as it avoided what likely would have been tense negotiations over player pay and service time, and cemented an expanded postseason.

The union had maintained they would not agree to expanding the playoffs if a full 2022 regular season was not played. Furthermore, the MLBPA’s preference of only increasing the format to 12 teams rather than 14 also is part of the new CBA.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had previously canceled March 31 Opening Day and the first four series of the regular season. Spring Training also had been delayed to not beginning until Friday, March 18, at the earliest.

When does MLB free agency begin?

With players due to report for Spring Training in the coming days, MLB free agency and trades are expected to begin immediately after the CBA is ratified by owners and the union.

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