MLB Owners Continue to Lockout Players Over Contract Disputes

By: Cooper Baer

With the Major League Baseball (MLB) season rapidly approaching, fans are growing more skeptical about the start date of spring training and the regular season. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA),  the set of rules that determine how much money professional baseball players make, is yet again up for renegotiation.

Beginning Dec. 2, shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 season, MLB owners locked their players out from facilities, halting all baseball-related operations during the 2021-22 offseason. 

Mt. Hebron senior Zach Shindel shared, “It’s kinda been boring. I always love the offseason and trades, there’s been none of that this year.”

Other than the CBA, owners, and players each had their own respective set of demands. Owners have requested an expanded playoff format; this would allow more teams to rake in money from television deals as teams make 100% of income from televised playoff games. 

Mt. Hebron junior Sam Kelly shared his beliefs on the petition from the owners. “I think the players should be compensated, they’re the ones attracting attention [to the games]. People watch the games for the players, not the managers or owners.” 

To accommodate this change, the owners offered to reduce the season’s length from 162 to 154 games alongside implementing the universal designated hitter (DH). All of these changes would come alongside the same CBA that had been agreed upon in 2017. “I like the universal DH, just let pitchers go out and do their thing.” Mt. Hebron senior Sam Cohen added that “It is entertaining to watch (pitchers hit) but the last thing you want is someone to go out and get hurt.”

With franchise values ballooning, players feel that they are not being fairly compensated to mirror that growth. Additionally, minor league players in Low A affiliated baseball are still making wages well below the poverty line. On average a rookie in class A baseball makes $6,000 a season. “I think it’s ridiculous that elite athletes are getting paid fast-food workers wages, it’s crazy to me, they can’t be their best self in the offseason if they have to go and work another job to pay bills,” said Cohen.

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has had many demands besides the expired CBA including shortening arbitration. The issue of current MLB service time and minor league call ups centers around what defines one year of ‘service time.’ Service time is how long a player has been active on an MLB roster. Currently, contracts last until the end of a player’s sixth year of service time. The issue that the MLBPA hopes to solve is teams purposely holding players back from being called up to MLB in order to delay when their service time will expire. Under the current rules, a player only needs to miss 16 of the 162 game seasons to not accrue the one-year service time mark. “I think a lot of guys are getting screwed out of money in their primes. It takes them five years to work through the minors and then they have to wait another three to six years to make any sort of big money” said Shindel. 

With the exception of super twos – the top percent of players who have accumulated over 130 days of service time in their first two years of MLB – most players are being held back from making money until they’re already done with their MLB career.

With both the MLB and MLBPA still in gridlock and spring training approaching fast, fans will soon find out what Major League Baseball will look like in 2022.

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