It took at least five arbitrary deadlines, but Major League Baseball finally has an agreement between players and owners, ending the lockout on its 99th day.
Representatives for both sides met in New York the last three days, working through another league-imposed deadline that on Wednesday saw the cancelation of another week of regular season games. But instead, there will be a full 162-game schedule, just modified a bit.
BREAKING: Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor deal, sources tell ESPN. While it still needs to be ratified by both parties, that is expected to be a formality, and when it is:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 10, 2022
Baseball is back.
Thursday at noon PT was the fifth arbitrary deadline in 11 days, one by which the MLBPA agreed to the owners’ latest offer.
The players’ board vote to accept a deal was 26-12, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 10, 2022
On March 1, after nine days of in-person bargaining between representatives for players and owners in Jupiter, Florida, commissioner Rob Manfred canceled the first two series of the season. At that press conference, Manfred said, “Our position is that games that are not played, the players will not get paid for.”
Those games will be played and players will be paid, and will get the opportunity to accrue a full year of service time. Amid a threat of a second week of canceled games, the players union leveraged the owners’ need for expanded postseason and the estimated $85-100 million annual boon that comes with it, per Jeff Passan at ESPN.
The competitive balance tax, and its thresholds, was a sticking point in talks. Negotiations in Florida ended last week with the players wanting a first threshold of $238 million in 2022 up to $263 million in 2026, the final year of the deal. Owners offers went from $220 million to $230 million.
Where they settled, per reports, is somewhere in the middle, and with the introduction of a new, fourth tier that is more punitive, and more in the spirit of the tax, which was implemented in 1997 to curb runaway spending.
The implementation of an international draft became a sticking point on Wednesday, such that the league announced the cancelation of a second week of games. But players and owners solved that issue by Thursday morning, giving both sides until July to agree to an international draft (which would start in 2024), or see the return of draft-pick compensation for qualified offer free agents.
We’ll dive deeper into other specific details of the agreement later, like the designated hitter coming to the National League for good, a 12-team postseason, the increased minimum salaries, limits on player options per season, and more.
“Our union endured the second-longest work stoppage in its history to achieve significant progress in key areas that will improve not just current players’ rights and benefits, but those of generations to come,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. “Players remained engaged and unified from beginning to end, and in the process reenergized our fraternity.”
It’s unclear when spring training camps would open for players on 40-man rosters, but it figures to be some time by this weekend. To date, the start of the spring schedule has been pushed back four times, originally slated to begin on February 26 but was moved to start no earlier than March 18.
Players can report to spring-training camps as early as tomorrow. Opening Day is expected to be April 7, as @JesseRogersESPN first reported. Transactions unfreeze upon ratification, which is expected to come as early as today, meaning free agents can sign and trades can occur.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 10, 2022
Details to follow.