MLB Lockout Rumors: March 1 Deadline Passes Without New CBA

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When team owners unanimously voted to impose a lockout last December due to the collective bargaining agreement expiring it was deemed by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as the “best mechanism to protect the 2022 season.”

Manfred’s statement was followed by several weeks of inactivity, and sporadic CBA meetings in January produced little progress. Discussions were more frequent in February but again failed to amount to significant movement toward a new deal.

Frustration from the league and Players Association (MLBPA) increased, and MLB imposed a February 28 deadline for a new CBA. The league maintained it would push back Opening Day and not reschedule canceled regular season games.

Daily meetings at Roger Dean Stadium over the past week appeared fruitless as the deadline approached, but enough progress was made Monday and the deadline was moved to 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

Despite some sense of movement toward a new CBA, negotiations failed to clear significant hurdles by the new deadline and the lockout is continuing, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

BREAKING: MLBPA player leaders agreed unanimously not to accept MLB’s final proposal, and there will be no deal on a new collective-bargaining agreement before MLB’s 5 p.m. ET deadline, sources tell ESPN.

MLB has threatened to cancel its March 31 Opening Day without a new deal.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 1, 2022

Key issues throughout CBA negotiations have been economic matters: luxury tax thresholds and accompanying penalties, minimum starting salary, pre-arbitration bonus pool, and percentage of players that would qualify for Super Two status.

Whether an expanded postseason would have 12 or 14 teams is another disagreement, and how much notice MLB must provide a committee of potential rule changes. Under the 2017-21 CBA, the league had to introduce new rules at least one year in advance; they are seeking to parse that down to 45 days.

With the luxury tax thresholds, the union asked for it to be set at $238 million for the 2022 season and increase to $263 million by the final year of the CBA.

In what MLB deemed their best and final offer, the competitive balance tax was proposed at $220 million for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 seasons; then $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026.
The luxury tax threshold was set at $210 million in 2021.

With the pre-arbitration bonus pool, the MLBPA lowered their ask from $115 million to $85 million, but with $5 million annual increases. The league topped out at $30 million.

Minimum salary is yet another discrepancy, with the Players Association at $725,000 and increasing throughout the CBA. MLB has offered a $700,000 minimum salary and topping out at $740,000 over the course of the agreement.

Next steps for MLB, MLBPA

It’s unclear how quickly the league and union may resume CBA negotiations. If the process remains drawn-out it will result in more Spring Training games getting canceled and further threaten the start of the regular season.

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