Major League Baseball lockout, play stops for 99 days

Brendan Kelly, Sports Editor

On December 2, 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) entered its first lockout since 1994, when players went on strike. MLB owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) voted to go into a lockout after the expiration of the 2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement. This lockout froze all action within free agency, and all action of trades between teams. With several big name free agents such as Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Freddie Freeman, and Kris Bryant not signing with a team before the lockout, it left many fans on their heels, wondering where these free agents would go. It would not be until March 10 when teams would be able to sign free agents again. 

After a silent six weeks between the MLB and the MLBPA, a first proposal was made on January 13, and this proposal did not turn out to be successful. This proposal would include an increase in minimum salary, and also would include changes within the draft lottery that would limit teams abilities to perform poorly to get a higher draft pick. The thought behind that was that when teams “tank” their season on purpose, it turns fans away, which will decrease the revenue the league may get.

Throughout the rest of January there would be a couple more discussions between the MLB and MLBPA, but there would be minimal progress made as the two sides could not come close to an agreement. During these meetings at the end of January sides would surrender a few of their proposals, but that was the only progress that had been made.

 There would be even more meetings throughout the whole month of February. On February 1, the players would propose two things that would turn out to be successful. Increasing the amount of teams in the postseason from 10 to 12, and incorporating the universal designated hitter, which means that both the American League and the National League do not have to hit their pitcher, and can instead replace their pitcher with a designated hitter. 

On February 10, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the lockout for the first time, over two months after the start of it. He would give fans optimism of a deal being closed in the near future, with no evidence of that. This would spark anger in some fans. 

   On February 18, the MLB would announce the delay of spring training. Spring training was originally scheduled to start on February 26, but they had to delay it to March 5, with the uncertainty of whether a deal would be reached or not. Also on February 18, the MLB and MLBPA would agree to make an increased effort by meeting every day from February 21-25 in order to come closer to reaching a deal. 

The two sides would meet every single day from February 21 to March 1, with a large desire to come to a deal. Despite meeting every single day, the two sides were not able to meet the February 28 deadline of a deal being made due to several economic issues not being resolved. Due to this the deadline would be pushed back a day to 5:00 PM on March 1, but even then there would still be no deal reached.

This forced Manfred to announce that the first two regular season games would have to be canceled. 

We worked hard to avoid an outcome that’s bad for our fans, bad for our players, and bad for our clubs. Our failure to reach an agreement was not due to a lack of effort by either party,” Manfred said. 

After this announcement there would be a five day break between the two sides and on March 6 talks would be continued. The Players union would submit another proposal. This proposal would allow Manfred the ability to implement rule changes within a 45 days notice. 

Two days later the MLB would counter the proposal sent by the players union. They would raise their tax threshold up 8 million dollars to 228 million dollars. 

After 99 days, a deal was finally reached between the MLB and the MLBPA. This would open up the free agent market again and unsigned free agents were allowed to start talking to teams again. Spring training would be allowed to open up and even though it was later than fans would have liked, baseball was back, which sparked excitement across America.