MLB: Major League Baseball and the Players Association reach an agreement


MLB and the Players Association reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday, ending the league’s 99-day player lockout and salvaging a 162-game season, according to Jeff Passan reports. of the network ESPN.

With the end of the second-longest work stoppage in sports history, spring training camps will open on Sunday.

The deal came to fruition after talks intensified this week, when the league made a proposal that closed the significant gap between the two sides over the competitive balance tax.

The owners in turn approved the new five-year contract 30 to 0. Major League Baseball was to formalize the lifting of the lockout at 7:00 p.m. on the 99th day of the conflict.

“I am truly delighted to announce that Major League Baseball is back and that we will play 162 games, commented commissioner Rob Manfred. I want to start by offering an apology to our supporters. I know the last few months have been difficult. »

The freeze imposed on the composition of the teams following the outbreak of the lockout must also be lifted immediately, which will allow Freddie Freeman, Carlos Correa and more than 100 other players without a contract to sign new agreements.

Training camps will open on Friday in Florida and Arizona. Players are required to report to their team by Sunday. The first preparatory matches will take place from March 17 or 18.

Fans can start planning outings to Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Camden Yards next month. Opening day is expected to be a week later than the original March 31 date.

The new collective agreement brings significant changes to the sport itself with the addition of a Universal Designated Hitter, a 12-team playoff format as well as various disincentives to « intentional tanking » by of teams.

The 184 games previously canceled by commissioner Rob Manfred have finally been postponed to maintain a full schedule of 162 games. The regular season will therefore be extended by three days, until October 5, and the teams will play approximately three double programs to integrate the postponed games.

After seeing two deadlines set by the owners to save the full season pass, the players received a so-called « final » proposal on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch effort to save the season, player salaries and full recognition. of their service time.

While the gap between the two camps had already narrowed, the owners took a step further to join the players on a middle ground in the majority of the economic stakes.

According to a source familiar with the voting process, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the Players Association executive board voted in favor of the bid by a vote of 26. at 12.

« The deal moves the sport forward, » New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, a member of the Players Association executive subcommittee, said in a phone interview with the IAAF. Associated Press.

“It covers several things that players should be concerned about: the aspect of competitive integrity. »

The new playoff format would see the top two teams from each division qualify. The two division champions with the best record will get a first-round bye, and the other four teams will have to play a best-of-three series.

Another important change, teams will be able to add advertising on their uniforms and helmets for the first time. Changes to the rules on defensive permutations and a timer imposed on pitchers could be adopted in 2023.

« I love our sport, » Manfred said. That being said, since I’ve been commissioner, I’ve spoken about the need for some rule changes to improve the entertainment potential of our product for fans. I believe this agreement paves the way for us to work with players to create changes that benefit our fans. »

The agreement includes a salary cap raised from US$210 million to US$230 million with gradual growth to US$242 million in 2026. This should give some breathing room to the big markets of the Yankees, Mets , Dodgers and Red Sox.

The luxury tax rate remains unchanged for all levels, ie 80% for a first offence, 90% for a repeat offense and 110% for a third offense or more.

The minimum wage will be increased from US$570,500 to approximately US$700,000, with an annual increase of $20,000.

A new $50 million prize pool has been created to pay bonuses to players who outperform but are not yet eligible for salary arbitration. A way to raise the salaries of young stars.

After another obstacle to the progress of the negotiations, this one related to the desire of the owners to establish an international amateur draft, the agreement materialized Thursday afternoon.

It capped almost a year of negotiations during which pitchers Max Scherzer and Andrew Miller played an important role as union spokespersons.

The players raged for years against the previous collective agreement which ended on December 1st. This saw the total payroll decrease by 4% in 2021 compared to the last full season of the old convention, in 2015.

The union had adopted an ambitious negotiating position, calling for a relaxation of access to full autonomy with criteria based on age as well as an expansion of eligibility for wage arbitration by returning to the rules in force. between 1974 and 1986.

In the final straight of the discussions, the salary cap and the luxury tax, designed as brakes on spending, have become the keys to obtaining an agreement. Players believe that too low a cap and too high luxury tax rates have the effect of indirectly imposing a hard salary cap, something the union fought against for seven and a half months during the 1994 strike -1995.

« One of the benefits of collective bargaining, » Manfred said, « is that our players have the opportunity to have their say on what their work environment is going to look like. » They took full advantage of this opportunity during these negotiations. »

« It’s probably one of the best unions in America, » the commissioner added of the Players Association.

The cost of this conflict, however, will be the resentment that has portrayed both owners and players as money-obsessed.

“People can come to the stadium. It will help, Cole argued. Maybe some will come to the stadium to tell us their way of thinking. It is their right. I would say that nobody wanted it to happen like this and some of the obstacles we had to overcome in the last moments were not bad faith, but simply procedure. »


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