HomeMLB Lockout 2021: Major League Baseball owners shut down players, first shutdown since 1995

MLB Lockout 2021: Major League Baseball owners shut down players, first shutdown since 1995

IRVING, Texas – Major League Baseball plunged into its first outage in a quarter-century when the sport’s collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night and owners immediately shut down players in a move that threatens spring training and opening day.

This strategy, which is equivalent to an administrative strike under federal labor law, ended the peace of sports work after 9,740 days over a 26-and-a-half year period.

The teams decided to force the long-awaited showdown during an off-season rather than taking players out of risk over the summer, as they did in 1994. Players and owners managed to reach four consecutive non-stop agreements, but were accelerating toward the showdown. for more than two years.

The talks, which began last spring, ended on Wednesday after a brief session that lasted only minutes between the two sides on dozens of key economic issues. Management negotiators left the Syndicate hotel nine hours before the deal expires at 11:59 p.m. ET, and players said MLB has not submitted any new central economic proposals this week.

The 30 controlling MLB owners held a brief digital meeting to reconfirm the shutdown decision, and MLB delivered the announcement of the fourth-ever shutdown — to go along with five hits — in an email to the Major League Baseball Players Association.

That pause began 30 days after Atlanta won the World Championship capping an entire season after 2020 that was cut short for the pandemic in empty ball stadiums. The immediate effect of the shutdown is to banish players from team practice facilities and weight rooms while possibly chilling ticket sales for 2022.

The union has demanded the change after outraging the average salary drop, forcing middle-class teams out of their paychecks from the wealthy and war veterans in favor of low-paid youngsters, especially among clubs that tore up their rosters to rebuild.

“As players we see big problems with that,” New York Mets player Max Scherzer said of the 2016 agreement. “First of all, we see an issue with the competition and how teams are behaving because of certain rules within that, and adjustments have to be made because of that in order to take the competition out.”

Eleven weeks remain until shooters and hunters attend spring practice on February 16, leaving about 70 days to reach an agreement that will allow for a start on time. The opening day is set for March 31, and in the past a minimum of three weeks of structured rehearsals were required.

The administration, bent on maintaining salary constraints gained in recent decades, rejected the federation’s requests for what the teams saw as important changes to the sport’s economic structure, including reducing the service time needed for free agency arbitration and salaries.


Several clubs scrambled to add players ahead of the shutdown and an expected signing freeze, committing more than $1.9 billion in new contracts – including the one-day record of more than $1.4 billion on Wednesday.

“I have felt that at least certain groups of free agents have been moving more quickly in the past few days,” said Ben Chirington, general manager of Pittsburgh.

Two of the eight members of the Federation’s Executive Subcommittee have signed big deals: Texas player Marcus Simin ($175 million) and Scherzer ($130 million).

“That’s actually kind of fun,” Scherzer said. “I’m a fan of the game, and to watch everyone sign now, to see teams compete at this kind of good time, it’s been refreshing because we’ve had a freeze in the past several seasons.”

No player remains active from the 232-day strike that shortened the 1994 season, led to the first cancellation of the World Championship in 90 years and caused the 1995 season to start late. That pause only ended when a federal judge—future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor—issued an injunction forcing owners to restore business rules for an expired business contract.

The median salary fell from $1.17 million before the strike to $1.11 million but then resumed its seemingly unforgiving rise. It peaked at just under $4.1 million in 2017, the first season of the newest CBA, but will likely drop to around $3.7 million when you factor in the final numbers for this year.

These funds are highly concentrated at the top of the salary structure. Of the nearly 1,955 players who signed contracts in the Major League at any time during the final month of the regular season, 112 players have earned $10 million or more this year as of August 31, of whom 40 have made at least $20 million, Including the shares distributed from the signing bonus. .

There were 1,397 winnings under $1 million, of which 1,271 were at $600,000 or less and 332 were under $100,000, a group of young players who shuttled back and forth to the Palace.

Federation President Tony Clark, a former All Star first man who became CEO after Michael Winner’s death in 2013, said the players are united and understand the need to stay together to achieve common goals. Both parties are still suing over the 2020 season that has been cut short for the pandemic, slashing how long the season could have taken and taking their positions before a neutral arbitrator.

The Federation refrained from granting financial licenses, as it usually does in bargaining; Cash, US Treasuries, and investments totaled $178.5 million as of December 31, according to a financial disclosure form submitted to the US Department of Labor.

“We have a very large war chest behind us of money that we can allocate to players,” Scherzer said.

Some players’ agents have speculated that management’s credit lines may already come under pressure after the income deprivation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but clubs’ finances are more opaque in public than those of the federation, making it difficult to ascertain the comparative financial strength to withstand a long business. Stop.

Rob Manfred, who succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in 2015 after a quarter-century as an MLB work negotiator, made clear last month that management would prefer an informal shutdown over a mid-season strike.

“We’ve been down that road,” he said. “We shut down from ’89 to ’90.” “I don’t think 1994 was too great for anyone. I think when you look at other sports, the pattern has come to control the timing of the labor dispute and trying to reduce the potential for actual disruption to the season. That’s what it’s about. It’s avoiding damage to the season.”

Scott Borras, who negotiated the Scherzer deal and halted Cory Seeger’s $325 million contract with the Texans, pushed the union to insist on the change to reduce the incentive to cut salaries during rebuilding.

“Sometimes, the rules of the game require them to do things that are not in the best interest of the game, and to be better competitors for the next year, they have to do things the rules direct them to do,” Boras said.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.