Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the agreement with the Players' Association that allows them to conduct a season, expires in less than four weeks. The two sides have been negotiating for months, though at this point a lockout seems likely once the CBA expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1. Here's what you can expect the next few weeks.
As always, the No. 1 issue with the CBA is economics, specifically how MLB and the MLBPA split revenues that are approaching $11 billion annually. The players are getting an increasingly smaller piece of the pie (the average player salary has fallen more than six percent since 2017) and they want to correct that, and also create mechanisms to prevent anti-competitive behavior (i.e. tanking).
The Players' Association made their second economic proposal last week, report The Athletic's Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal, though it included only minor adjustments to their initial proposal in May. Among other things, the union's May proposal included:
- Raising the minimum salary and getting players into arbitration earlier.
- Changes to the way service time is calculated, including early free agency in some cases.
- Adjustment to the way the draft order is determined (currently reverse order of the standings).
MLB made their first (and so far only) economic proposal in August and it included a $100 million salary floor and a $180 million luxury tax threshold, substantially lower than the $210 million threshold in 2021. Also, the salary floor would be a "soft" floor, in which teams could simply pay a penalty should they fail to field a $100 million roster.
MLB and the MLBPA have reportedly made progress on non-economic matters during CBA negotiations, but ultimately the money will determine whether a new deal is reached by Dec. 1, or whether the owners lock the players out. A short lockout would be a bump in the road, relatively speaking. If it drags out long enough, spring training and even regular season games could be missed.
Baseball's last work stoppage was the 1994-95 players' strike that wiped out nearly 1,000 regular season games, plus the entire 1994 postseason. There have been three owners' lockouts in baseball history (1973, 1976, 1990) and in all three cases the players were locked out of spring training, but no regular season games were missed.