The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) is set to expire at 8:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and there aren’t any indications of a new deal being in sight.
If a new CBA is not place by Dec. 2, the league would enter a lockout that freezes all baseball transactions and could jeopardize the 2022 season if no agreement is reached in a timely manner.
The last time games were missed due to negotiations was during the 1994-95 players’ strike that lasted 232 days, so time is running out to prevent the first baseball stoppage in 26 years.
While the league isn’t required to enter a lockout regardless of a deal being reached, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred urged fans need to believe it isn’t the same as a strike, via of Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
“I can’t believe there’s a single fan in the world who doesn’t understand that an offseason lockout that moves the process forward is different than a labor dispute that costs games,” Manfred said at a press conference to end the owners meetings.
Manfred is correct in that they are different things. A lockout comes from the MLB team owners’ side while the labor dispute he is referring to is when the players go on strike.
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 which side has initiated the stoppage.
A lockout and strike are both bad for growing the game, even if it is necessary and even if it does help make progress toward an agreement.
Instead of talking about what a team is getting from their newly acquired player, the focus will be about the two sides negotiating a deal.
And at the end of the day, all most fans want is for the sport to provide them with entertainment without worrying about CBA negotiations.
It’s also important to remember Manfred works for the owners to manage the sport. He does not work for the players. MLB does not need to enter a lockout but they do it to prevent a strike that would give players more negotiating power.
What Manfred essentially wants fans to think is it’s good when the MLB owners lock players out of the sport for an agreement, but bad when players withhold their labor for the same purpose.
MLBPA focused on competitiveness, free agency in negotiations with MLB
Two of the biggest issues the MLBPA wants straightened out are “competitive integrity” and financial compensation.
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 union would also like to see players paid earlier in their career as the current process gives a club six years of control before free agency becomes a factor. Included in that is arbitration, during which players can still be underpaid.
The current system hurts all players, but especially those who are late bloomers, such as Los Angeles Dodgers All-Stars Max Muncy and Justin Turner, and New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. 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.
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