99-Day Lockout Ends, MLB Season Restored – How it Happened & What Now
Baseball is Back!
Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have finally come to an agreement after a 99-day lockout and legal battle that deferred the start of the 2022 season. The two parties agreed on the circumstances of the deal on March 10; trading, free agency business, and reporting for spring training are expected to follow in the coming days once the deal is ratified.
The MLB owners imposed the lockout on December 2, 2021 when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired and the MLB and the MLBPA couldn’t agree on terms of a new one. It has been a polarizing battle to get baseball back since and seemingly there was no end in sight until Thursday. Read more about the conflicting nature of the 99-day battle here.
Details of The New Collective Bargaining Agreement
The biggest discrepancy between the two proposals lied in the expectations for the competitive balance tax threshold. The MLB proposed a $220 million threshold increasing to $230 million by the end of the agreement, while the MLBPA proposed a threshold that increases from $238 million to $263 million over the next five years. The new agreement yields a $230 million threshold starting in 2023 and increases to $244 million in its final year.
Minimum salary was also a big topic of discussion; the two parties settled on a $700,000 minimum salary starting in 2023 and peaking to $780,000 in the final year of the agreement. They also settled on the establishment of a pre-arbitration bonus pool of $50 million and a 12-team postseason format.
Other changes came as well including the introduction of a universal designated hitter, the now-biggest draft lottery in professional sports, service time manipulation prevention efforts, changes to playing rules, and more. Players now have even more rights to engage in endorsement deals with sports betting companies, which was previously strictly regulated by the league.
Once both parties have signed on the dotted line, Spring Training starts, effective almost immediately. Clubs will report for Spring Training on March 13, exhibition games will begin on March 17 or 18, and the long-delayed Opening Day will now be on April 7, one week earlier than the original postponement date (April 14).
Unfortunately amidst the lockout, the first four regular season series were removed from each teams’ schedule. The good news is that the agreement promises to reschedule all of these games, restoring the normal 162-game season for the MLB.
One of the few things left on the table without a solution are negotiations on the international draft policy. The two sides agreed to continue discussion about the international draft with a decision deadline of July 2022. If they can compromise, draft-pick compensation will be dropped but if they don’t come to a decision then the process will remain unchanged.
As of now the agreement is still waiting to be ratified and only then can everyone get back to baseball. However that is expected to happen any day now in what will be a pivotal morale change for baseball fans everywhere.