Major League Baseball has locked out players after the five-year basic agreement between the two teams expired at midnight Wednesday night. The sport’s annual winter meetings, which were due to start next week in Orlando, have also been canceled.
The owners voted unanimously in favor of a lockdown after negotiations broke down on Wednesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said at a press conference in Dallas on Thursday morning.
“We came to Texas to make a deal,” Manfred said. “We are committed to the process. We made proposals, and it just did not happen.
Because of this lockdown, baseball officials are not allowed to contact their own players, who must also train without guidance and without access to club facilities.
The target date for a deal is February 15, when pitchers and receivers are due for spring training. The regular season is scheduled to begin on March 31.
“Put simply, we believe an off-season lockdown is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season,” Manfred said in a statement on MLB.com early Thursday morning announcing the action.
“We hope the lockout will restart negotiations and bring us to a deal that will get the season started on time.”
Baseball’s first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike became a fait accompli as negotiations collapsed late that afternoon in Dallas, where the union’s executive board met.
A proposal made Tuesday by the MLB Players Association to reduce contact arbitration eligibility from three to two years, and that of free agency from six to five years was deemed inadequate by the owners, who chose to To not answer. It came after the MLB made concessions on the Universal Designated Hitter, slightly raising the luxury tax threshold, raising the minimum wage and expanding the playoffs.
“This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s just not a viable option, ”said Manfred.
The lockout freezes all player movements, including trades and free agent signings, until a new deal is in place, creating a long winter for the nearly 200 free agents who fail. have not signed before the expiration of the CBA. A latest wave of signings on Wednesday brought the total amount spent on free agents to more than $ 2 billion since the World Series ended, “breaking the record almost four times,” Manfred said.
“This shutdown is a dramatic step, any time,” the union said in a response posted on Twitter. “It is not required by law or for any other reason. It was the owners’ choice, clear and simple, specifically calculated to put pressure on the players.
Winter meetings were to begin Monday for four days. The meetings, which took place virtually last year due to the COVID pandemic, are typically a hive of activity where GMs discuss deals and player agents attempt to sell their unsigned clients to the highest bidder for one week of off-season media coverage. The minor leagues, which are not affected by the lockout, will still host their share of fixtures in Atlanta.
The lockout is the ninth work stoppage since the players’ strike of 1972. Most were resolved within a month and only half resulted in game cancellations.
The most recent strike, which began on August 12, 1994, wiped out the remainder of that season and the World Series for the first and only time since 1904. The start of the 1995 season was delayed when the owners used players. replacement during spring training. .
“I don’t think 1994 was a very good year for anyone,” said Manfred, who at the time was an outside lawyer for the owners.
It remains to be seen how this work stoppage will unfold almost three decades later.