Issues facing MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and the potential for a lockout

Rob Manfred
Rob Manfred will be desperate to avoid a lockout. Photo from MLBTR.

If you’re a baseball fan, you must be worried about MLB‘s CBA issues 2021-22. The date has been set and it doesn’t seem like the players and team owners will be on the same page by December 1, meaning a lockout is a real possibility.

MLB CBA issues 2021-22

For decades, owners and players have gone back-and-forth trying to impose their will over the other. And now it seems like, after nearly 3 decades without a labor stoppage, both parties are getting ready for an unprecedented stand-off.

The CBA’s expiration date is just around the corner and it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be any kind of consensus for the foreseeable future. There will be plenty of time to get both parties on the same page before making a drastic decision, so we wouldn’t be shocked to see this story go on for months.

What is the MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement?

The MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is basically a list of terms that define the relationship between players and team owners. It covers every single aspect of that relationship, from allowances, meals, salaries, all the way to time of service, contractual structure, free agency, and even rules like giving a home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the All-Star Game.

“The intent and purpose of the Clubs and the Association (hereinafter “the Parties”) in entering into this Agreement is to set forth their agreement on certain terms and conditions of employment of all Major League Baseball Players for the duration of this Agreement. Each of the Parties acknowledges the rights and responsibilities of the other party and agrees to discharge its responsibilities under this Agreement,” says the Players’ Association website.

Issues to solve with MLB CBA

Unsurprisingly, the MLB CBA Issues 2021-22 will all be related to money. The players will want a bigger, fairer share of the broadcast revenues, and the rumors say that they’ll also look for more rights for minor leaguers. That’s not going to please team owners:

“Priority No. 1 will be increasing the players’ share of the money the league takes in,” reported Dayn Perry of CBS Sports.

“But that will not be easily accomplished. Teams’ increasing reliance on young, cost- and team-controlled talent has cascaded through other markets for talent and depressed all but the top-most wages. Given recent circumstances, the best way to lift all boats is probably to press to make younger players more fairly compensated. That means significantly raising the minimum salary (over and above the usual minimum salary increases that accompany a new CBA) and perhaps lowering the service-time threshold for arbitration and free agency.”


When did MLB last have a lockout?

Throughout history, we’ve witnessed eight labor stoppages. They happened in 1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990, and 1994. Those strikes have gone from 2 days to months.

The last time it happened, the players decided to go on strike and the league had to cancel the 1994 postseason and shorten the 1995 season. Players protested the owners’ determination to impose a salary cap, so a federal judge had to reinstate the terms of the previous CBA in order to resume play eventually.

The league has gone nearly 30 years without a lockout. However, some insiders believe that this is the closest we’ve been in decades. Then again, the CBA expiration date makes us think that none of this would be known until around Spring Training.

On the other hand, they said that same back in 2016 and both parties were able to reach an agreement hours before the deadline.

Hopefully, this will be the case again. In that scenario, we won’t have to worry about not having baseball on TV for the next five years.

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