Less than 24 hours after the league announced another week of games was to be cut from the calendar, Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association suddenly ended their lockout and reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Thursday afternoon. The three-month-long lockout is officially over, and the 2022 season will go — for the most part — as originally planned.
None of us saw this coming, especially after the events of the past two weeks. Nonetheless, I don’t think any of us mind.
Major League Baseball owners have ended their lockout. They voted to ratify the new CBA, 30-0, a formality after the players accepted the owners’ proposal earlier today. Very soon: play ball.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 10, 2022
“I am genuinely thrilled to be able to say that Major League Baseball is back and we’re going to play 162 games,’’ said Commissioner Rob Manfred as he addressed the media following ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that will be in place for the next five seasons, through 2027.
MLB is considering this Sunday, March 13, as the Spring Training report date for all 30 teams. As noted above, all 162 games will be played. The 2022 schedule will extend three days further than originally planned, up to October 5; the games that were to be played during the two series that were cancelled (spanning from March 31-to-April 6) will be made up through doubleheaders.
The baseball lockout ends nearly 100 days after it was put in effect back in early December by the league. After ratifying the new CBA, the free agency and trade markets got the green light for activity on Thursday around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
Some details of the new CBA:
- Pre-arbitration bonus pool of $50 million.
This pool will be split among all those not eligible for arbitration and will be split equally among all 30 clubs for the luxury tax. The money will be split among those non-arbitration-eligible players, using performance criteria such as WAR, and player awards like the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player.
A full year of service time will be credited to the players in both leagues that finish first and second in Rookie of the Year voting.
- Collective Bargaining Tax (aka the luxury tax) thresholds range from $230 million to $244 million over the next five years.
Penalties for exceeding these thresholds start at 20 percent and can jump to over 50 percent, if any one team exceeds them in consecutive seasons.
- League minimum salaries ranging from $700 thousand to $780 thousand, jumping $20 million each year.
- 12-team postseason format.
With six teams from each league, the seeding format will be:
1st Seed: Best overall record.
2nd Seed: Second-best record among division winners.
3rd Seed: Third-best record among division winners.
4th, 5th, 6th Seeds: The teams with the best records who did not win their division, seeded in order by their records.
The 1st seed will face the winner of the 4th seed vs. 5th seed Wild Card series. The 2nd seed will take on the winner of the 3rd seed vs. 6th seed Wild Card series. The 1st vs. 4th/5th and 2nd vs. 3rd/6th series will be the divisional series that we are used to, and no re-seeding will take place.
Also, there will be no more “Game 163” situations, and a series of tiebreakers would be used in the event of any tie when it comes to postseason seeding.
- Draft lottery consisting of six picks.
- Amateur draft of 20 rounds, reduced from 40 rounds.
- Players can be optioned five times per season before having to clear waivers.
- Elimination of draft-pick compensation for qualified free agents. There are now four tiers of compensation for teams who lose qualified free agents,
- Universal designated hitter.
- No more runner on second base to start extra innings.
- Nine-inning doubleheaders — which we will get to see on at least a few occasions this season!
- MLB can implement rule changes with a 45-day notice (used to be a full year).
Speaking of rule changes, it’s worth noting that the three new rules announced by MLB recently — the banning of the infield shift, usage of larger bases, and implementation of pitch clocks — will not come into effect until the 2023 season.
Another interesting point found in this CBA is that, beginning in 2023, there will be fewer divisional games. Each team will play at least one series per season against all 29 opponents. The exact format of how this will be accomplished has yet to be announced, but there will be no more waiting multiple seasons to see a certain opponent come to your team’s home city.
The main holdup in Wednesday’s CBA negotiations (or, ‘why the league cancelled another week’s worth of games & an agreement could not be reached’) was the international draft. Being that the two sides were able to come to terms in many other areas, the league and union have agreed to continue negotiations on the international draft separately, with a deadline for that set for late July of this year. If agreed upon, the international draft would not start until 2024.
Opening Day is set to be Thursday, April 7th. The Cardinals will open the season at Busch Stadium against the Pirates.
Baseball is back!