UPDATED, 12:40 PM: And suddenly there’s joy in Mudville.
Major League Baseball owners and players have struck a tentative deal to end the three-month lockout — a day after they appeared to have been at an impasse.
Both sides still must ratify the new five-year collective-bargaining deal, which would set April as Opening Day and keep a full 162-game season intact. Spring training would begin this Sunday, and the four series for every team that had been scrapped will be made up.
BASEBALL IS BACK!!! pic.twitter.com/x89PcTbZTQ
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 10, 2022
MLB.com writer Mark Feinsand said the new CBA with the Major League Baseball Players Association is expected to include increased minimum salaries, a new pre-arbitration bonus pool to reward the game’s top young players, a raise in competitive balance tax thresholds, the introduction of a universal designated hitter, the widest-ranging draft lottery in pro sports, a system to prevent alleged service-time manipulation, limits on the number of times a player can be optioned in a season and a 12-team postseason. There will also be the evaluation of an international draft.
PREVIOUSLY, March 10: Major League Baseball’s owners said today that Opening Day has been pushed to April 14, and the locked-out players hit back by calling that “completely unnecessary.”
The move comes nine days after contract talks between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association fell apart, and the league scrapped the first two series of the 2022 season. Opening Day had been set for March 31.
In a statement issued today, Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. said:
“In a last-ditch effort to preserve a 162-game season, this week we have made good-faith proposals that address the specific concerns voiced by the MLBPA and would have allowed the players to return to the field immediately. The Clubs went to extraordinary lengths to meet the substantial demands of the MLBPA. On the key economic issues that have posed stumbling blocks, the Clubs proposed ways to bridge gaps to preserve a full schedule. Regrettably, after our second late-night bargaining session in a week, we remain without a deal.
“Because of the logistical realities of the calendar, another two series are being removed from the schedule, meaning that Opening Day is postponed until April 14th. We worked hard to reach an agreement and offered a fair deal with significant improvements for the players and our fans. I am saddened by this situation’s continued impact on our game and all those who are a part of it, especially our loyal fans.
“We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they will ultimately choose to accept the fair agreement they have been offered.”
Not long after that, the Players Association countered with a statement of its own:
“The owners’ decision to cancel additional games is completely unnecessary. After making a set of comprehensive proposals to the league earlier this afternoon, and being told substantive responses were forthcoming, Players have yet to hear back.
“Players want to play, and we cannot wait to get back on the field for the best fans in the world. Our top priority remains the finalization of a fair contract for all Players, and we will continue negotiations toward that end.”
The two sides have been at loggerheads over what always was expected to be tough negotiations on a new deal, and the league locked out players pre-emptively December 2 — in what it said was an attempt to finalize a new CBA before the regular season’s scheduled March 31 start.
Some major-league issues are in play in the new contract, including expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams, adding the designated hitter to the National League, increasing minimum salaries, creating a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players and making adjustments to the luxury tax.
Ironically, given the elements of player empowerment in play, April 15, the day after the latest Opening Day date, will mark the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut and would be part of the next wave of cancelations.
The postponement keeps baseball in limbo, with clubs unable to sign free agents without a deal and teams not able to train together. The league has said spring training can start “within days” of a CBA being signed.
Some fifteen games had been set for Opening Day on March 31, including the Los Angeles Dodgers’ home opener and the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves opening at Miami.
Patrick Hipes contributed to this report.
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