Difference in the wants and needs of the players and owners may potentially lead to a lock out before the start of the 2022 season
By: Christian DiBuono
Major League Baseball owners and players are looking forward to the December 1st expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that began in 2016.
On Thursday November 16th during the MLB owners’ meeting, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear that his owners would love to strike a deal before the deadline and claimed that it is his priority to get it done. However, Manfred has hinted that there may indeed be an MLB lockout.
“Honestly I can’t believe there’s a single fan in the world who doesn’t understand that an offseason lockout that moves the process forward is different than a labor dispute that costs games,” said Manfred. “When you look at other sports, the pattern has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of actual disruption of the season. That’s what it’s about. It’s avoiding doing damage to the season.”
Among other topics that Manfred covered included:
- Owners remaining “very interested” in the kind of pitch clock experimented on in the Low A West League last summer.
- MLB is moving closer to using baseballs that are pre-loaded with “stick stuff”.
- There is a ‘renewed focus’ on diversity, equity, and inclusion in baseball.
- No conclusions have been made on the Tampa Bay Rays’ desire to share a home stadium with Montreal.
- Manfred praised the efforts of Oakland A’s ownership to pursue a new stadium in the Bay area while also exploring a move to Las Vegas.
- The league’s financial performance in 2020 was much better than what was expected by the owners.
Baseball players and owners have long been at odds over baseball’s arbitration system and collective bargaining agreements. Because of this, there had been eight instances where there was a work stoppage in baseball between 1972 and 1995.
Given that the MLB owners have not addressed any legitimate concerns of the MLB Players Association, a lock-out will most likely occur before the start of the 2022 season. One of the main concerns expresses how the MLB owners have spent the last decade taking advantage of the player compensation system, which has caused the owners’ share of revenue to increase and the player’s overall revenue to decline.
The MLB owners did propose a $100 million major league payroll minimum alongside a luxury tax threshold of $180 million to address the salary issue. However, this proposal would put more money in the owners’ pockets and less in the players.
Meanwhile, Owners proposed to replace salary arbitration and the free-agent eligibility be changed to the age of 29.5 years. Players have offered to drop the free agency eligibility from six seasons of service to five and arbitration eligibility to two seasons.
Until an agreement between the players and owners is made, the media and fans will continue to get frustrated. They believe that the owners cannot reach an agreement on a sport that generates millions in revenue.
As the owners appear to intend on preserving and extending their revenue gains, it would be logical for fans to believe that baseball is currently destined for a lockout.