Major League Baseball appears headed for its first work stoppage since 1994-95 players' strike. A work stoppage beginning on Dec. 2 is "almost certain," Ronald Blum of the Associated Press writes.
The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the negotiated document that governs all aspects of the working relationship between players and teams, expires on Dec. 1. According to the veteran reporter Blum, neither side expects a new CBA to be hammered out before then. Blum writes:
"Negotiations have been taking place since last spring, and each side thinks the other has not made proposals that will lead toward an agreement replacing the five-year contract that expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 1."
As well, Bill Madden tweets that those inside the game are indeed preparing for such a possibility:
I’m hearing as a prelude to a likely lockout by the owners Dec. 1, the winter meetings in Orlando are being cancelled— billmadden1954 (@bmadden1954) October 24, 2021
Labor stoppages have happened before once the current CBA expires as a lever to hasten negotiations. Given how far we are from spring training 2022, there's no reason at this point to fret over any kind of altered schedule or lost games. As well, the Dec. 1 expiration date is, at this writing, still more than a month away. A Dec. 1 lockout, however, would also in essence put a freeze on the free agency process, and if that lockout drags on then the offseason calendar could become all too compressed for a normal run-up to the 2022 season.
While as noted players and owners have enjoyed a long run of labor peace -- unprecedentedly long since the first CBA was hammered out in the late 1960s -- several complicated economic issues make another such offseason less likely. The players as represented by the Major League Baseball Players Association likely have an ambitious negotiating agenda designed to recapture a dwindling share of league revenues, push back against the "tanking" phenomenon that's seeing teams choose to be non-competitive, and address service time manipulation by clubs. That's hardly an exhaustive list, but it hints at the broad scope of the current talks.