Update: Major League Baseball has implemented a lockout, resulting in the sport’s ninth work stoppage.
Major League Baseball has officially implemented a lockout, sources tell ESPN. The ninth work stoppage in the sport’s history has begun.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 2, 2021
In what may be the least surprising news of the evening, particularly compared to the Marcus Stroman signing, MLB owners have voted unanimously to institute a lockout. That report comes via Jon Heyman, who tweeted that it’s not yet known exactly when the freeze will begin.
Breaking: MLB owners vote unanimously to institute a lockout. It is expected to begin tomorrow but unclear what time.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 2, 2021
Bob Nightengale subsequently tweeted that the league is expected to impose the lockout at 12:01am ET Thursday and then hold a press conference at a more reasonable time to explain the decision. The running joke for those who are terminally online would be that this means there won’t be a lockout after all.
The expectation is that #MLB will inform the #MLBPA in 45 minutes that they are imposing a lockout, at 12:01 a.m. ET, with MLB having a press conference on Thursday in Arlington, Texas., to explain the decision.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 2, 2021
While the existing CBA expires at 11:59pm ET, it’s possible for business to be conducted after midnight as long as the lockout hasn’t officially begun. It’s interesting to note that transactions weren’t shut down during the winters of 1993-94 and 1994-95 with no CBA in place, but the 1994 season was ultimately canceled after players went on strike.
A lockout is obviously a choice made by the owners to prevent the players from potentially doing that again, and I still think there’s a desire to create a made-for-media feeding frenzy once an agreement is reached. As for how long this is going to take, it appears as if things might not be as far apart as it has seemed for quite some time now.
As Evan Drellich of The Athletic laid out, MLBPA’s latest proposal includes free agency parameters the league should be willing to roll with. The union is also reportedly open to an expansion to 12 teams in the postseason and ads on jerseys, both of which would represent big financial wins for the owners.
Some details: MLB offered to raise 1st luxury tax tier to $214m, peaking at $220m
MLBPA free agency proposal:
Year 1 of deal, no change, 6 years service to become FA
Years 2-3: 6 years—or if age 30 1/2 & 5 years of service
Years 4-5: 6 years—or if age 29 1/2 & 5 years service
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 1, 2021
With full knowledge that there’s still a lot of work to be done, I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been that the two sides can get something hammered out by February.