This has been the date we’ve all been dreading on the MLB calendar, and now after such a fun week or so everything is coming to a screeching halt with the league officially implementing a lockout of the player, and with it a freeze on all transactions. It is always hard to judge from the outside just where things stand with any of these negotiations, but from where we’re sitting it sure seems like the two sides are far apart, with talks on Wednesday being ended by the league in the afternoon.
Today is the day the current collective bargaining agreement expires, and the league has chosen to start a lockout on this date. It should be noted that there is no rule or law saying that must be the case, and if it so chose the league could allow this offseason to go on as normal as talks continue.
That was never going to happen, though, and this seems like something that has the potential to drag out, possibly as long as to cut spring training short or even cost regular season games. That would be a disaster scenario. The league is looking to keep the status quo and perhaps even take a bit more from the players, including a proposal to cut cost of living increases in their pension. On the players side, the main points of focus seem to getting players to free agency earlier and ensuring teams try to field competitive rosters.
Those sorts of economic issues are likely to be the bulk of the focus in these talks and the biggest points of contentions, but changes to on-the-field play as well league setup could be affected as well. To the former point, things like a pitch clock and universal DH could be on the table in the discussion. On the other side, a playoff expansion seems likely to come in some form, and the players even extended a proposal to reduce the number of divisions in each league to two.
We will be keeping up with all of the negotiations that become public, but will also always offer the reminder that anything that is leaked is done so with intention, and these kinds of negotiations are hard to track from the outside. Mostly, we all just hope things don’t last too long, so we can go back to enjoying the hot stove.
MLB released a letter to its fans explaining the lockout, leaning heavily on the flat-out lie that they were forced into implementing this lockout. They were not forced into anything.