Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1, and many within the sport consider a lockout inevitable. If the MLB Players Association and the owners can’t agree on a new CBA by then, the first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike will likely occur.
Jon Heyman, an insider for MLB Network, provided an ominous update Wednesday, quoting a source who predicts a long, dark lockout.
That tone is much different than the more cautious optimism many around the league have previously reported.
Much of the distance in the labor dispute between the MLBPA and the owners is on core economics. Key issues include arbitration rules, the luxury tax threshold, the minimum contract and a team salary floor.
Proposals will also include several other items such as rule changes like an expanded playoff and universal designated hitter. Negotiations are expected to ramp up as the Dec. 1 deadline approaches.
Some big name free agents could wait longer than normal to sign contracts, given the uncertainty of the CBA. But in Carlsbad, California at the annual GM meetings, executives are still meeting to explore possible trades and gauge free agent interest.
If there is a lockout, all trade activity and free agent signing would be halted. Players would also not be permitted to use team workout facilities.
The 26 years since the last work stoppage is the longest streak in major professional US team sports. There have been eight work stoppages in MLB since 1972 — shortly after the labor union was formed.
Even if there is a work stoppage, it’s still reportedly unlikely that the 2022 season is delayed. Lockouts are used in labor disputes as a negotiating tool. But if Heyman’s source’s prediction unfolds, that would be unfortunate for everyone.