Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached a tentative agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement Thursday, ending the league’s 99-day lockout of the players and salvaging a 162-game season, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
With the end of the second-longest work stoppage in the game’s history, spring training camps will open Sunday, free-agent signings can begin Thursday night, and baseball will attempt to return to some semblance of normalcy after months of fraught negotiations.
The deal materialized after talks ratcheted up this week, when the league made a proposal that bridged the significant gap in the competitive-balance tax, a key issue in the end stages of talks. A dispute over an international draft threatened negotiations and caused the league to “remove from the schedule” another two series Wednesday, but those issues were resolved Thursday morning and the league delivered a full proposal to the union, which it voted to accept.
The final vote by the MLBPA’s eight members of the executive subcommittee and 30 player reps was 26-12 in favor of the agreement, sources told ESPN.
The basic agreement governs almost all aspects of the game, but baseball’s core economics were front and center in the labor talks. In addition to the new CBT, which increases from $230 million to $244 million over the five-year deal, the minimum salary governing players with less than three years of major league service will jump from $570,500 to $700,000, growing to $780,000, and a bonus pool worth $50 million will be distributed among those younger players who have yet to reach salary arbitration.
MLB had pushed for expanding the postseason to 12 teams — a plan to which the MLBPA agreed. Additionally, player uniforms will feature advertising for the first time, with patches on jerseys and decals on batting helmets.
Other elements of the deal include:
• A 45-day window for MLB to implement rules changes — among them a pitch clock, ban on shifts and larger bases in the 2023 season
• The National League adopting the designated hitter
• A draft lottery implemented with the intent of discouraging tanking
• Draft-pick inducements to discourage service-time manipulation
• Limiting the number of times a player can be optioned to the minor leagues in one season
I haven’t written about the lockout, mostly because there’s enough depressing news out there, but I’m glad to see it’s finally over. The owners largely maintained the gains they had won in previous CBA talks, but the players picked up a little bit of ground. I’m happy to see a pitch clock and the universal DH, and I can live with a 12-team playoff. The fact that it took this long to get to a deal, even though the sides were mostly bargaining over relative pennies at the end, is all on the owners, who imposed the lockout in the first place. For now, as I breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to more free agent signings, all I can say is “Play ball!” Fangraphs has more.