Analysis: What does the MLB lockout mean for the future of MLB?

MLB Talks are stalled while both sides cautiously renegotiate CBA

Analysis: What does the MLB lockout mean for the future of MLB?
"Souvenir Baseball" by Mr.TinDC is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

After 26 years of peace between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the latest collective bargaining agreement between the sides expired Dec. 1 at 11:59 p.m.

Robert Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB, released an official statement where he explained the lockout was the MLB’s way of protecting the 2022 season on Dec. 2. 

“We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time,” Manfred said.

With both sides unable to come to an unanimous agreement, the owners felt as if they had no choice but to lock the players out, according to CBS Sports

What is a lockout, and why does it matter?

The lockout is causing a multitude of difficulties for both players and owners. During a lockout, the free agency process is put on hold causing players to be left on the market, without a team. The lockout also pauses all trades and locks players out of all MLB facilities, according to CBS Sports

The CBA ensures agreement on salaries, new rules and the treatment of players. The CBA is renewed every five years and in order for the CBA to be renewed both the MLB and the MLBPA have to unanimously agree on the entire agreement. The MLB and the MLBPA have yet to come to an agreement leading to the latest lockout. Players, fans, and owners alike are all witnessing the fourth lockout in MLB history. 

On Jan. 13, both sides met to negotiate the CBA. The players requested an increase to the league minimum salary, allow for salary arbitration after two years and increase the minimum tax threshold. The tax threshold, also known as the luxury tax, is a tax that is reinforced whenever a club surpasses their payroll limit. These requests were denied by the owners. According to The Athletic, little progress was made during this meeting, and according to Evan Drellich, a senior writer at The Athletic, “Remember, movement tends to wait until the last minute (or beyond).” 

Opening day is on schedule for March 31, but it may be postponed if the MLB and the MLBPA continue to make little progress in their agreements. In an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Passan, an ESPN MLB insider explained how agreements will likely begin closer to spring training. 

“I think the panic doesn’t have to start until February, maybe even early March,” Passan told ESPN. Looking back at the past lockouts, observers can see patience is key. Big moves will probably not be made until February. 

The lockout is not necessarily a bad thing. If the players' demands are met, then newer players will be paid more and teams can fairly acquire players with the increase in the minimum tax threshold. The CBA was created in order to improve baseball because it makes sure that players are treated fairly and it is one step closer to making baseball better for fans, owners and players.

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