It is now December 2 and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the players, the owners of the 30 different franchises, and the league has expired, prompting a lockout.
The agreement covers everything from contracts, length of the season, the minimum salary, to topics like parking facilities for players. These agreements generally last between four to five years, the most recent was signed and put into effect in 2017.
It's not unusual for new agreements to be made just before the deadline, the expiring agreement wasn't formed until a day before expiration. However, this time around the negotiations have been much more tenuous as the MLB Players Association and the MLB and owners are much further apart.
According to Joon Lee, Max Scherzer, a leadership member of the MLBPA, states that one of the major sticking points from the players is the lack of competition in the league, stating “Adjustments have to be made to be made to bring up the competition … When we don’t have that, we have issues.”
This is a similar sticking point that was brought up in the most recent agreement, as a major addition to the CBA was adjustments to the luxury tax threshold which helps enforce competitive play.
According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, another hang up from the players is the age and service time before they're allowed to elect free agency, the players are putting forth that if they've played for five years of service at the age of 29.5 they should be allowed to elect free agency.
However, the league maintains that the changes players want would make the game less competitive and create even more disparity than what already exists.
On the other end, per MLB's Mark Feinsand, the league has put forth a few proposals, the first being the addition of the universal designated hitter (DH) rule, the second being the removal of the qualifying offer system, and the third being a draft lottery system similar to how the NBA organizes its draft.
It is always worth noting that the league did propose a higher luxury threshold tax and maintains that that a lack of a hard salary cap already benefits the players.
There is no reasonable timeline for a lockout as the most recent, which happened in 1995, lasted seven months, while the prior lockout in 1990 only lasted 32 days towards the beginning of the Spring Training.
This lockout could have huge implications on the offseason, as all transactions will be frozen and unable to be completed until an agreement is made. If no agreement is made and legal intervention doesn't occur, then there could be a potential late start to the season. And the worst case scenario is no season at all, but that remains unlikely.
For now, the baseball world will have to sit and hope for an agreement so that players will take to the field next season.
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