MLB implements lockout after CBA expires
Baseball is on pause.
MLB implemented a lockout of its players at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, two minutes after the collective bargaining agreement expired. All league business and transactions will now cease until MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association reach a new deal.
MLB owners voted unanimously to lock out the players, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported.
"This shutdown is a dramatic measure, regardless of the timing. It is not required by law or for any other reason," the MLBPA said in a statement. "It was the owners' choice, plain and simple, specifically calculated to pressure players into relinquishing rights and benefits, and abandoning good faith bargaining proposals that will benefit not just players, but the game and industry as a whole.
"These tactics are not new. We have been here before, and players have risen to the occasion time and time again - guided by a solidarity that has been forged over generations. We will do so again here."
"Today is a difficult day for baseball, but as I have said all year, there is a path to a fair agreement, and we will find it," commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in a letter on MLB.com. "I do not doubt the league and the players share a fundamental appreciation for this game and a commitment to its fans. I remain optimistic that both sides will seize the opportunity to work together to grow, protect, and strengthen the game we love."
MLB and the players' association successfully negotiated the last four CBAs without any work stoppages, most recently in December 2016. This is the fourth time MLB's players have been locked out since 1972 and it's baseball's first work stoppage since the 1994 players' strike.
Since it's the offseason, there's no immediate danger of games being missed. But teams can't have any contact with players during a lockout, and players can't use team facilities. The major-league portion of baseball's winter meetings have been canceled, according to Passan.
Many issues are being discussed at bargaining sessions - most notably, money and salaries. Players want to end service-time manipulation and tanking, and they don't want the competitive balance tax to hinder teams' spending.
MLB has offered to raise the CBT, which came after players rejected the league's $100-million salary floor proposal, Passan reported this week. The players also rejected a bonus-pool proposal centered around dividing up money for arbitration-eligible players based on the Wins Above Replacement metric.
Owners offered to increase both the minimum salary and the luxury-tax threshold, but not to the levels players requested, The Athletic's Evan Drellich reported Wednesday.
Another of the owners' main objectives is expanding the postseason. The league reportedly tabled an expanded 14-team playoff format that would allow division winners to pick their first-round opponents, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers.
The union's reported counterproposal Tuesday included a slew of changes, including ensuring free agency by either five years of service time or the age of 29 1/2 (whichever comes first), beginning arbitration after two years instead of three, and increasing the tax threshold. The players also floated a 12-team playoff format with divisional realignment, as well as advertising on jerseys.