As most of you know, MLB’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired on December 1st. And like many of us have been expecting since the previous deal was struck, a new contract was not signed. So, MLB imposed a work stoppage at 12:01 on December 2nd, and it doesn’t look like anything is going to be moving forward anytime soon.
What is a CBA?
The CBA is a contract between the players, represented through the players association (MLBPA), and the owners (MLB). The last of such a contract was signed in 2016, and since then, there have been multiple issues and grievances throughout the seasons. Leading many of us to believe that a new agreement wouldn’t be reached in time.
We were right. And so ensued the first MLB stoppage since 1990.
So, why the lockout?
Despite what owners, some media and even a Commissioner’s letter may tell you; this was nothing more than a scare tactic. A way for the owners to strongarm MLBPA into agreeing to their terms. This lockout stops everything, in the business, such as free agent signings. It also included MLB.com and MLB.tv removing all images, videos and articles about any active MLB players. In short, it’s a mess, and something that both sides tried desperately to avoid during negotiations.
According to Manfred, this lockout is simply enforced to stop a potential disruption to the upcoming season. But, with the stall in discussions so far, it doesn’t look promising.
What terms are causing the problems?
Since the 2011 agreement was settled upon, MLB has seen an uptake in revenues, why? Because of the terms of the CBA. Owners have been hit with a number of “penalties” such as exceeding the luxury tax, meaning player salaries have stayed relatively constant through the years whilst MLB revenues have increased. In the most general of terms, the owners have been greedy and the players want their payday.
One major point of contention has been free agent eligibility. For decades, players have been signed to a six-year deal, before becoming free agents. So far, this has not been an issue, until owners manipulated that particular rule, making it so that service time can be increased from six to seven years. Kris Bryant is one of those players to fall into the manipulation. He was called up to the Major’s two weeks after the season had started, meaning that his six years of service time wouldn’t start until the following season, allowing the Cubs to gain an extra year of control over his contract.
The list just goes on, teams “tanking” to receive draft compensation, salary arbitration and veteran free agent indifference. All points which were not addressed in the latest discussions.
One could argue that it’s a two-way street, and it is, as with all negotiations, there has to be give and take. But, it’s easy to place blame, because it was only one side who decided to willingly shut down a business. The side which doesn’t suffer from this turn of events. The side which doesn’t have players who are no longer able to access their facilities or trainers for rehab purposes. The side with everything to lose.
The fate of baseball as of now, in unknown. But one thing is most definitely certain, even if a new deal is agreed upon before the new season, this war is far from over. I have no doubt we’ll see another lockout in just a few short years, after this new agreement expires.