You can go ahead and checkout MLB.com, where the players listed on a team’s roster are faceless and articles about the players have been temporarily scrubbed if you don’t believe me, but, just after midnight on Thursday morning, Major League Baseball officially announced that the lockout had begun. The owners unanimously voted for it to happen on Wednesday night. It is the first work stoppage in the sport since 1994, when a strike took place that lasted eight months, trickling into the 1995 season. The ’94 World Series was even cancelled that season, as an agreement wasn’t reached in time.
It was widely speculated that an offseason lockout would be happening so this shouldn’t come as a surprise, though it is still not an ideal situation for baseball. Major League transactions cannot take place during the lockout. Therefore, no team can add anyone to their 40-man roster via free agency, trades, the Rule 5 draft, etc.
There are a number of pressing issues that the two sides are trying to negotiate through. The biggest, as you could have probably guessed deal with elements regarded to compensation. The players want a higher minimum salary (current minimum is $570,500). The players also want an alteration to service time before free agency, pitching for becoming free agents once crossing the 29.5 years old threshold or five years of service time. Related to this, they want arbitration to start after two years of service time, not three.
Another major pressing issue that hits close to home for the Pirates and their fans is whether or not to implement a salary cap/salary floor, or some type of system to make a more level playing field. This is going to be a tough element to work out as the players would not want a salary cap, and more than a few owners might be against a salary floor.
Some of the other issues being discussed are the universal DH, expanded playoffs, extra inning rule and much, much more. These issues are more or less on the backburner for now, as they should be easier to sort through than some of the main aspects.
Though a work stoppage of any means is a bad look for the sport, it really is not as big of a deal as it will be if the lockout carries on into January. At that point, spring training is at risk of being delayed which could push back the start of the regular season and the number of games played could be shortened for the second time in three years.
Hopefully, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are proactive and it doesn’t even need to reach that point. However, if it does, both sides will be under a microscope and under heavy scrutiny from fans around the league get restless as the possibility of missing games grows greater.
As the great Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld, “Giiiiddy Up.” This is only day one of what could be a long and stressful process.
The statements from both the league and the players association can be found below:
— MLB (@MLB) December 2, 2021
Statement from the Major League Baseball Players Association: pic.twitter.com/34uIGf762W
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) December 2, 2021