Spring Training for the 2022 MLB season was scheduled to start February 15th of this year, but thanks to the current MLB lockout this date has been pushed back. The lockout originally started on December 2 of 2021, when the then current collective bargaining agreement expired and the MLB owners could not come to terms for a new contract with the MLBPA, (the player's union). This lockout will be the first worker's stoppage to reach the MLB since the 1994 mid-season strike.
Reports have surfaced claiming that talks are continuing between both sides, optimistically trying to start the season for their original Opening Day date of March 31st. These talks will have to ramp up soon if both sides are serious about that deadline.
Spring Training being cancelled used to be thought as a monumental decision, but in 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus, the games were cancelled anyway to limit health risks to everyone. That decision has made the public's eye less aggressive to this decision of missing out on baseball for February and March, and when this year's Spring Training
was cancelled barely anyone batted an eye.
So what is the reason for this lockout? It depends on who you ask.
The MLBPA made a statement saying, " It was the owner's choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits, and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just players, but the game and industry as a whole."
On the other side, Rob Manfred had made statements immediately proceeding the original vote to impose the lockout on December 2nd saying, "We understand it's bad for business, we took it out of a desire to drive the process forward to an agreement now." He would later remark, "The only tool available to you under the act is to apply economic leverage." The act Manfred was describing was, in his words, "... we didn't feel that sense of pressure on the other side during the course of this week [week leading up to the CBA expiring on 12/2/21.].
Basically the lockout is a power play by the owners and Manfred. If the players and the MLBPA truly hasn't felt the pressure, they will once they start losing paychecks if the lockout continues through the season. This will most likely lead to the MLBPA budging first and agreeing to terms more favorable to the owners.
The biggest terms that are being negotiated and contested over start with declining average-player salary. Better compensation for younger players, who have been used more in team's farms and main roster, and "service-time manipulation" which is when team's keep great players lower on their farms to elongate the time it takes for them to hit free agency while keeping them at low cost. One more point of contention is a factor that spreads across every sport and has become more relevant in baseball as of late, tanking a season to acquire better draft picks.
These terms are all reasonable according to the MLBPA and deserve to be improved, but the MLB owners and Rob Manfred own their business and ultimately hold the most power. These terms may budge a bit but don't expect the league to change overnight. The player's best opportunity for leverage is to hold out for as long as possible so the owner's lose millions or billions on projected sales in the 2022 season. As we already stated however, this would also cost the players millions of dollars too, which may not be as critical to the superstars of the league, but for young and veteran players alike who haven't hit their huge contracts yet, the loss of a season's salary is too costly.
It's impossible to guess at the length of time this lockout will take. Most likely the regular season will be cut or postponed a couple weeks, but it could be longer. Negotiations are thought to have a solid platform to start at which is optimistic for both sides, but not enough to point one way or the other.
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