The lockout is over! Baseball is back!
After months of an enforced lockout on the players, the MLB owners and Player’s Association agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Thursday.
With it came an end to pointless bickering, posturing before the media, late nights waiting on Bob Nightengale Tweets, and last-minute surprise additions to the negotiations that derailed deals. It was frustrating. It was painful. It was soul-sucking. It made many of us hate what baseball was for a while.
All that is over.
For all the pain of the 99-day lockout, all the false narratives of the MLBPA being compromised by individual agents, all the teeth-gnashing about owners not moving on the CBT, baseball came together and rescued itself from the precipice of doom.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 10, 2022
And for that, we are thankful.
Thursday was a day of joy and excitement. Because, really, all we want is the game we love. Yes, we want the players to be fairly compensated and we want to make sure teams are trying to compete. But we mostly want to see balls and mitts and bats and pitchers and catchers and Harrison Bader’s flowing locks flowing all over center field.
The game we love is back. It’s different. But it’s back.
How will the game be different? That’s my purpose today. I scoured the internet and Twitter on Thursday afternoon searching for the latest and most accurate intel on everything that will be changing in the 2022 season and beyond. Below I’ll post Tweets and relevant articles – some fun and some informative – and then provide a little commentary on the details of the CBA, the now-resumed Spring Training schedule, free agency, and more! We’ll color all the news with Cardinals red because some of the broad details have a significant impact on our local team. Sound good? Let’s go!
Players did well in this deal. Better than expected.— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 10, 2022
Even then the PA executives were 8-0 against this deal. Hard to give up when you’ve made gains. Likely felt they could push for more. Still a much better deal for the players than in past CBAs. https://t.co/Q3p0TUC1oo
In the thread by Evan Drellich of The Athletic – who has been incredible during the lockout – we get all the gory details of the new CBA agreement. Let’s talk about some of these:
1. Pre-arb bonus pool – the players were proposing a pool of money that teams would distribute to players who have not yet reached arbitration as bonuses. The players wanted significant money in this – around $100M. The owners didn’t want such a massive change in the system, particularly the small-market, low-budget teams who rely on freshly promoted slave labor to fill out their rosters. In the end, though, many teams were kinda happy to reward their productive young talent for being, well, productive and young! Bonuses like this would get distributed to players like Dylan Carlson or Tyler O’Neill who made pennies compared to their veteran counterparts but produced at a high level. It’s a great addition to the CBA by the players!
2. Minimum salary – the minimum salary is finally going up! After remaining relatively stagnant for several years at just over $500k, players signed for league minimum contracts – including pre-arb players – are now going to make $700k and it will escalate every season. Combine that with the bonus pool and the PA finally made significant progress on helping out the bulk of their constituency.
For a long time, the PA was mostly concerned with their veteran players – making sure that their established earners made as much money as possible in free agency. That approach was becoming more and more outdated as the game exited the steroid era and teams became more and more focused on draft and development. The PA entered these negotiations wanting to gain more ground for pre-arb and arb players while not sacrificing anything for the veteran free agents. They did not meet all of their goals but they moved the needle in the right direction.
This deal, while not a great one for the players, was still a WIN for them and one they needed after a series of deals that were taking them backward.
3. Universal DH – let’s get Cards specific for a minute. Yes, we’ve known that the DH was coming. Now it’s official. The Cards will have to field a designated hitter next season. Who will it be?
Mo says part of the discussion over the next few days will be about the DH. Mentioned the balance between young guys “we’re excited about” and “short term solutions” on the market and a need to talk to agents. Sounds like looking outside, as expected.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) March 11, 2022
As expected, this looks like it will be a revolving door. Surely the club wants to give their best hitting prospect (not named Jordan Walker) a shot at the job. Juan Yepez looks like a serious hitter. He does own a few defensive gloves, but I’d be pretty happy if we only occasionally saw them. He seems custom-designed in a lab to be the team’s future at DH.
But he’s also right-handed and the club does need some left-handed depth beyond Lars Nootbaar. That’s where the FA market comes in. Yes, Nolan Gorman hits lefty. So does Brendan Donovan. All of those players should see the major league roster this season. But there’s no reason for the club not to bring in some veteran competition in the “better than Austin Dean” category.
Like who? Click the link in the Tweet to find out.
I am just dropping this here for everyone’s convenience when the inevitable news breaks.https://t.co/VzD3i3Mw4P— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 10, 2022
After dropping that one on you, you need a little pick-me-up. Let me give you something fun. Opening Day is coming! Here comes the king!
Speaking of Opening Day and the Spring Training schedule… what does that look like now?
#stlcards spring schedule currently appears set to open a week from tomorrow under the lights at Roger Dean as the visiting team vs. Miami.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) March 10, 2022
Spring games will get underway next Friday with the Cards and Marlins playing an across-the-complex tilt at Jupiter. The mandatory reporting date will be March 13, but expect some players to struggle to meet that deadline as teams will be rushing to complete visas for internationals.
The regular season will be delayed, but only by a bit. And the league plans to get a full slate of 162 games in on the season.
Some scheduling stuff— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) March 10, 2022
- free agency starts as soon as owners ratify (vote at 6pm ET)
- mandatory spring training report date March 13
- opening day April 7
- 1 series made up as double header / 1 series made up on the back end (season ends 3 days late)
That means if the schedule at stlcardinals.com is accurate, the Cards will open AT HOME against the Pirates! It’s the first time the Cardinals have opened the season at home since 1932.
Ok, that’s not true. But it feels like it, doesn’t it?
The Cards lost two series – I think against the Cards and Cubs but don’t quote me on that – and those 6 games will be made up as the season goes along. One series will get tacked on to the end of the season. The other will be made up as part of doubleheaders during the season.
Those doubleheaders? They’ll be 9 inning games.
Make up doubleheaders to get 162 in would be 9 innings.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) March 10, 2022
(I’m a little disappointed by that because I enjoyed the 7 inning doubleheaders. Made for snappy, quality baseball. Starter to high leverage relievers and 2-hour games for a whole day of baseball was fun to watch.)
That’s the season. What about the end of the season? The players used expanded playoffs as their primary negotiating tool, dangling that carrot out there to get more money for young players. It was a smart tactic because it was something the owners desperately wanted.
The players proposed a 12 team arrangement – one more per league than the current playoff system. The owners wanted 14. I’m a fan of the expanded playoffs simply because I don’t like the one-game Wild Card. Give me a 3 game series, even if it means an extra team or two makes it.
That’s what we’ll get.
Some details emerging on how the expanded playoffs will work:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) March 10, 2022
* No more Game 163 tiebreakers. All playoff spots will be determined through NFL-type tiebreaker formulas.
* No re-seeding for the LDS. 1st seed plays winner of 4 vs. 5 Wild Card Series. 2nd seed plays 3 vs 6 winner.
Tiebreakers are gone. Now there will be a formula that MLB uses to determine who is in and who is out as well as playoff seeding. The first and second seeds in each league will get a bye to the divisional round, while the weakest division winner plays the lowest wildcard in a 3-game series and the 4-5 wildcards play the other series. It’s balanced. It won’t result in very many .500 teams making the postseason. It eliminates the one-game wild card. It gives the two best divisional winners rest – a worthy reward. It’s a good system. Traditionalists will hate it. But they already hated it. This gives us more competitive playoff baseball – which I love. I’m good with it!
The Cardinals Chances
Where are the Cardinals likely to fall in the playoffs?
I agree with the Cat. They are one of the better teams in the NL. https://t.co/7UXL1EVZfg— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 10, 2022
I agree with Jim Hayes. The Cards are good. They are, right now, one of the better teams in the NL. Not the best. But one of the better ones. They’re certainly contenders for the division crown and have a shot at the second seed if things go well for their veteran stars and young developmental players.
Ok, that’s the bulk of the details. Now a lightning round of info and tidbits:
Rule 5 draft
What about rule changes to the game – including size of the bag, pitch clock, etc? I have two tweets that deal with that:
I'm told the proposed rule changes (pitch clock, no shifts etx) aren't going into effect until next year, and that's not necessarily a given.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 10, 2022
As for rule changes... Beginning in 2023, a committee comprised of four active players, six members appointed by MLB, and one umpire, will be tasked with adopting changes to playing rules such as a pitch clock, base size, defensive positioning and automatic ball/strike zone.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) March 10, 2022
Oh, and Jeff Passan got hacked! It was awesome…
hey remember that time i got hacked on the biggest news day of my life— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 10, 2022
Interestingly, the entire executive committee of the Player’s Association voted no on the deal. The teams outvoted them, going 26-4 in favor of the new deal. The Cardinals were one of the teams that voted no. That’s not surprising, honestly. The Cards union reps have always toed the line for union leadership. Don’t read much into it.
The breakdown of the votes makes it clear: The players wanted to play. Player reps, who represent the rank-and-file, voted 26-4 in favor of the agreement. The executive subcommittee, made of elected leaders, voted 8-0 against it. In the end, all of the players' voices were heard.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 10, 2022
And what now? Let the free agency complaining commence. I’m here for the chaos!
I can not wait for tonight pic.twitter.com/ylZzwNriNm— Charlie Marlow (@CharlieMarlow_) March 10, 2022
There’s nothing - I repeat NOTHING - that I need more than for the Cardinals to be the only team that doesn’t sign a player in the coming chaos/days. That’s what I need. That’s what I require. That’s what I deserve— Kyle Reis (@kyler416) March 10, 2022
And we’ll end with this nugget from Brandon Kiley, summarizing John Mozeliak’s press conference:
"Newsy" items from Zoom w/ Mo:— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) March 11, 2022
- No decision yet from MLB on expanded roster
- FA activity might be on hold until tomorrow am
- Decisions still being made on what to do w/ DH spot (stop-gap FA vs young players)
- #STLCards will be creative w/ pitching (i.e. piggy-back starts)
Creative with the pitching???????? Mo’s been reading Viva El Birdos again!
See you Wednesday! Where we won’t be talking about a baseball video game but actual real-life baseball! If more news and info breaks, I’ll update the post below. Enjoy your Saturday!
Special thanks to all the reporters who covered this and provided so much content for us who rely on those things. You are appreciated!