Spring is supposed to be the best time of year for baseball fans.
The long offseason is nearly over, players are reporting to spring training and the regular season is just a few weeks away … right? Well, not in 2022.
MLB owners locked out the MLB Players Association on Dec. 2, and there’s been minimal progress on a new labor deal ever since. The league set a deadline of Feb. 28 to get a deal done before canceling regular season games before pushing the deadline to March 1. No deal was reached Tuesday, leading MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to announce the cancelation of the first two series of the regular season for each team.
Here’s everything you need to know about the MLB lockout, including what it all means, the history of lockouts and more:
Why is MLB in a lockout?
MLB officially entered a lockout at midnight on Dec. 2, 2021, when the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired without a new deal between the owners and players.
League owners and the MLBPA have been far apart on many issues, which has prevented a deal from getting done. Major points of dissension include the competitive balance tax that Manfred on Tuesday called "the only mechanism in our agreement that protects some semblance of a level playing field among the clubs," as well as revenue sharing, an expanded postseason field, minimum salaries and a draft lottery, among others.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Tuesday that MLB's best-and-final offer included Competitive Balance Tax thresholds of $220 million for the first three years of the deal before increasing to $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026, a $30 million pre-arbitration bonus pool and a minimum salary of $700,000 with annual increases of $10,000. MLBPA's previous offer included a Competitive Balance Tax threshold that starts at $238 million and increased roughly $6 million annually, reaching $263 million in 2026; an $85 million pre-arbitration bonus pool with $5 million annual increases and a minimum salary of $725,000 with annual increases of $20,000.
All of those topics will have to be negotiated and agreed upon for the lockout to end. The lockout will not end until both sides sign a new collective bargaining agreement.
How does the MLB lockout impact spring training?
Spring training has already been affected by the MLB lockout.
Games were originally scheduled to begin on Feb. 26, but that obviously did not happen. After a deal wasn’t reached on Tuesday, all of the originally scheduled spring training games have been canceled.
It is unclear how long spring training will be once a deal is reached.
This is the second time in three years that the owners and players have had a disagreement. The league was forced to start the season in July of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, there were weeks of negotiations before a 60-game regular season slate and multiple rule changes (extra innings man on second, seven-inning doubleheaders, expanded postseason) were finally agreed upon. For preseason in 2020, teams played one to three “summer camp” games before the regular season began. A similar format could be followed if the season is delayed into the summer again.
When is MLB Opening Day 2022?
2022 MLB Opening Day was originally set for March 31. All 30 teams were scheduled to take the field that day, with headliner matchups including the Red Sox vs. Rays and Giants vs. Padres.
Instead, none of those 15 Opening Day games will happen. MLB’s self-imposed March 1 at 5 p.m. ET deadline has come and gone, with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announcing Tuesday that the first two series of the regular season for each team were officially canceled. Daily interleague play, Manfred said, makes rescheduling the missed games unfeasible.
On Monday, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported that MLB owners expressed a “willingness” to miss a month of games.
When was the last MLB work stoppage?
The most recent work stoppage took place in 1994-95, when a players strike lasted for nearly eight months.
How many lockouts have there been in baseball history?
There have been nine strikes and lockouts in major league history:
1972 MLB strike: Canceled 86 games. The owners conceded after 13 days.
1973 MLB lockout: Canceled no games. Owners and the MLBPA agreed on a three-year CBA and spring training games resumed.
1976 MLB lockout: Canceled no games. Players were locked out of spring training the first few weeks of March. No regular-season games were missed.
1980 MLB strike: Canceled no games. Players went on strike late in spring training and an agreement was reached before the beginning of the regular season.
1981 MLB strike: Canceled 713 games. The MLBPA went on strike after games on June 11 and games didn't resume until Aug.10.
1985 MLB strike: Canceled no games. This in-season strike lasted from Aug. 6-7, but the games missed were made up at the end of the season.
1990 MLB lockout: Canceled no games. This lockout destroyed spring training and pushed the start of the season back a week, but the full 162-game season was played.
1994–95 MLB strike: Canceled 938 games and the entire 1994 postseason, including the World Series. At the time, it was the longest work stoppage in professional sports history (since surpassed by the 2004-05 NHL lockout).
2021-22 MLB lockout: Canceled the first two series of the regular season (so far), plus all of spring training. The lockout began when the CBA expired in the offseason and a deal has not yet been reached.