And on the 98th day, they said “let there be baseball.”
The MLB lockout is officially over after the league and team owners reached a tentative deal with the players’ union on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) — lifting the freeze on America’s Pastime that began on Dec. 2, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, and saving a full 162-game season that will be extended past its originally-scheduled end date by just three days.
Needing 20 of 38 votes to accept the league’s latest offer at their implemented 3 p.m. ET deadline to save the full 162-game season, the player reps for each team managed to overturn the union’s executive board — which initially voted against the proposal. The final tally was 26-12 in favor of MLB’s proposal.
Players can begin reporting to spring training Friday while what is expected to be a frenzied free-agency period can start as soon as Thursday night. A mandatory spring training report date will be March 13, per Jon Heyman, with exhibition games expected to begin on March 17. Opening Day would likely be held on April 7.
Nine-inning double-headers will be used to make up any lost time due to the lockout, which pushed Opening Day back from March 31.
A resolution came one day after league commissioner Rob Manfred put the second week of the 2022 season on hold — which came a week after he canceled Opening Day and the first two series of the campaign — but finally, the two feuding parties managed to find common ground to not only get MLB back up and running but to save the 162-game season.
While the owners and players inched closer to an agreement on core economics Tuesday including the competitive balance tax (CBT) and pre-arbitration bonus pool, the parameters of an international draft — desired by MLB — threw a wrench into talks that prompted Manfred’s announcement of putting the second week of the season in jeopardy.
But Thursday brought the promising development that the league and union agreed to push a ruling regarding the international draft back to July 25, allowing negotiations involving the most important aspects to continue unmolested.
At roughly 1:50 p.m. ET, MLB set forth its offer of a CBT starting at $230 million and increasing to $244 million (union initially offered $232m-$250m), a pre-arbitration pool of $50 million (an increase of $10m after MLBPA requested $65m), and minimum salaries that start at $700K in 2022 and increase to $780K by 2026.
Of course, it also came with a 3 p.m. ET deadline to save the full season and one final request that could have provided another snag. MLB asked the players’ union to drop a 2018 lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics, and Miami Marlins for not spending revenue-sharing money in the fashion intended by the previous CBA. They also requested the union’s COVID lawsuit from 2020 be dropped, as well.
While it was initially reported that MLB’s proposal was being well accepted, Heyman reported that a few New York Mets players were concerned about the CBT, thus arguing against it. It was reported on Wednesday that the league would institute a fourth tier of tax punishments for teams that go over the CBT by more than $60 million — a number the Mets seemed destined to eclipse, but that Mets owner Steve Cohen was OK with it.
Three members of the Mets — Francisco Lindor, Max Scherzer, and Brandon Nimmo — held votes. It is unclear whether they voted for or against the proposal.