Photo courtesy of AP Photo
By: Nicholas Winter
The Collective-Bargaining Agreement between the Players Union and the MLB ended on December 1, which meant that team owners and the players union would have to hash out a new agreement sometime in the near future.
The owners and Players Union met multiple times down in Dallas, Texas to make progress on a deal before the deadline but were unable to make any significant progress. Due to both sides not being able to agree to a deal before December 1, the owners did what everyone thought they were going to do: lock out the players. A lockout refers to the owners’ ability to collectively stop the workflow of the MLB and basically “fire” all of the players. This means the players and teams will be unable to contact each other or discuss contracts at any time until a new deal is struck. A lockout is a tactic used to gain leverage over the players so they are more inclined to succumb to the owners’ demands.
Mere hours after the lockout began on December 1, Major League Baseball removed all current stories and highlights related to current players, almost acting as if they do not exist. If that isn’t bad enough, they removed all of the players’ profile photos in the MLB database. If you try to find your favorite player on MLB.com, you will stumble upon their page to find that it does not have a player headshot. Their photos have been replaced by a dark-figured outline of a player. Some of the players immediately responded to this news by making these dark-figured photos their own social media profile photos. We can expect more developments like this in the future as the negotiations continue to drag on.
There are a few main rule changes that are important to the players in a new deal with the MLB. One of them includes being able to reach free agency at an earlier age, due to the cycle of minor league players being stuck on a team. The players proposed the age of 29 as a suitable age for free agency, but the owners pushed back. The owners do not agree with this proposal due to the fact that it would hurt small-market teams that already have trouble retaining their players as is.
Both sides are stubborn on their proposals, but one thing they have somewhat agreed upon is an expansion of the playoffs. Both sides want more teams in the playoffs, with the union wanting 14 and the owners wanting 12. This seems like something that could be settled and agreed upon fairly easily, as the number of teams that they both want to take is fairly close.
One of the smaller issues that a lot of people around the baseball world are hoping will be included in the new CBA deal is a universal designated hitter. This is something that a lot of people around baseball have been in favor of due to the number of injuries some pitchers have sustained at the plate or running to first base. I am completely in favor of the universal DH due to most modern day pitchers’ inability to hit well, as well as adding another productive offensive spot in the National League.
The December 1 expiration of the CBA deal put a sort of “deadline” for some players and teams to try to sign players before they were unable to due to the lockout. It was almost like a trade deadline in the middle of the season, with teams rushing to get deals done. Many people found it as something that should be implemented permanently, just based on how active a lot of teams were. Over 1.7 billion dollars worth of contracts were handed out in the month of November, with most of the big-time free agents coming off the board and signing with their respective teams. For the rest of the free agents, it is now a waiting game, as they are unable to sign until a new CBA deal is struck. This might cause a signing frenzy late in the off-season and lower the price of some of the free agents due to it being so close to the start of the season.
This could be a long winter. I expect the MLB and the Players Union to continue to take shots at each other until they take a seat together and solve the problems that they have between themselves. There is no fitting title for this off-season other than The Nuclear Winter.