On December 2nd, 2021, the collective bargaining agreement for Major League Baseball expired. The collective bargaining agreement, or CBA for short, is the contract shared between the players and the owners of the teams. This agreement determines the rules, revenue sharing, and so much more. The players union and the owners have to agree on these deals for the sport to operate. Once the CBA ran out in December, the owners voted to enter a lockout.
A lockout means that all baseball operations would be frozen. Therefore, the players could no longer be in contact with their organization and not be able to practice at facilities or even receive medical treatment provided by their clubs. This would be the first time the MLB would be locked out since 1994. The CBA ending did not have to result in a lockout. However, the owners wanted to send a message to the MLB Players’ Association, and their message was received loud and clear.
A History of Lockouts
Major League Baseball is no stranger to a lockout. This is the ninth time in the sport’s history that the owners and players have been in this exact position. The most recent lockout occurred in 1994 and resulted in no postseason being played. This would be the first time before the inaugural series in 1903 that the league would not have a World Series champion. The 1994 baseball strike occurred in August of that season. The two sides could not agree to a deal, and the remainder of the season was voided. The strike would leak into the 1995 season, and at one point, the owners of the clubs voted to use replacement players. However, the strike ended before the season began, and the original players returned.
While the lockout would be resolved and baseball would resume, the damage had already been done. Fans were frustrated with the owners and the players for the labor stoppage. Many felt that both sides were greedy and selfish and that they were no longer playing the game for the right reasons. Attendance for games dropped significantly as the 1995 MLB season played on. People no longer wanted to support their favorite clubs and give them their hard-earned money. Television ratings also suffered, and the game entered a dark period of unpopularity amongst sports fans. It wouldn’t be until the home run race of 1998 between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire that baseball would return to the spotlight.
Current Status of the Lockout
The main reason for this stoppage in baseball all boils down to money. Both the players and the owners are looking to make more money for their respective sides. The MLBPA is looking to make changes to help the second and third-tier players in the game. While the top guys will always be paid handsomely, they look to support the guys who help fill out rosters. One of the proposals made by the players is to lessen the amount of time it takes to reach free agency. Changing the length of time, in theory, would allow players to make more on their second contract and not have to waste around in arbitration.
The players have also floated the idea of a lottery system for draft picks, and they want to expand the current luxury tax ceiling. The owners, in many ways, do not want to make changes. They are pleased with the current number thresholds; however, they wish to add an expanded playoff going forward. This change will be the main negotiation point, and many can assume this will be added in 2022. There will be changes in the new CBA by the time this lockout ends. The changes could be altering the game as we know it or just hammering out small details. Only time will tell what is to be made of our beloved sport. However, the clock is ticking as we, in theory, should be just a few weeks from the start of Spring Training.
On Monday, January 24th, and Tuesday, January 25th, the MLBPA met with the owner’s committee representatives to begin negotiations. Below are some updates and proposals that both sides have made.
The lockout is hurting the Phillies
Until baseball activities can resume, the Phillies are in trouble. This off-season was very important for the club and the Phillies needed to make the most out of what was sitting in front of them. After missing the playoffs yet again many can argue the Phils wasted Bryce Harper’s MVP season and Zack Wheeler’s dominant year.
The Phillies needed to tackle this off-season head-on and they had no choice but to reshape the roster. The team currently does not have a left or center fielder on the roster. A glaring hole at shortstop remains following a disappointing year from Didi Gregorius. The team could use depth in their starting rotation and God knows that they could use all the help they can get in the bullpen.
The longer the stoppage continues means the Phillies will have less time to add to their team once the off-season resumes. They will fall into a position where they have to make moves in order to just field a team, let alone a competitive one. While there are still plenty of Free Agents to be signed and trades to be made, the Phillies lose leverage with each passing day. Unlike the Mets, who already locked down their roster for next season, the Phils have too many question marks remaining. Hopefully, Dave Dombrowski has taken this time to form a battle plan that he can execute quickly and effectively. Whether the Phillies break the bank for Trevor Story or Kris Bryant, or they make smaller deals with guys such as Kyle Schwarber and Kenley Jansen, they’ll have to do something. It would be in the best interest of the team for this lockout to end soon.
We still have a lot of time before an agreement is made between both sides. There has been progress made in the last two days that could result in better negotiations going forward. With the season inching closer with each coming day, there is still much to be done. Once this issue is resolved, there will be a footrace to resume the off-season that was cut so short.
Expect chaos to ensue once the green light is flashed, and we are going to be thrown into one of the most exciting baseball seasons yet. Until then, we can only dream of the signings and trades yet to be made. Expect more meetings and information in the coming weeks, and let’s hope we can get baseball back sooner rather than later.
Photo Credit: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire