Key questions about the MLB lockout: What each side wants, how long it will last

Scott Lauber, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

PHILADELPHIA — At the stroke of midnight, as Wednesday turned into Thursday, Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expired. In the absence of a new deal, the owners voted to approve an expected, if unnecessary, lockout of the players, thereby icing not only a five-alarm hot stove but also an entire $10 billion-plus industry.

OK, so now what?

MLB’s first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad look for everyone from Commissioner Rob Manfred and the billionaire owners for whom he works to Players’ Association executive director Tony Clark and his constituents. Manfred said as much in a news conference Thursday in Dallas, labeling the lockout “bad for our business.”

But it’s chiefly a negotiating strategy. Spring training is 2 1/2 months away; players aren’t due another paycheck until the season begins. Offseason business could’ve continued under terms of the expired agreement, as it did in 1994. The purpose, though, of a December lockout is to pressure the players into making a deal sooner and to give the owners control over the timing of the bargaining sessions.

Will it work? Check back.

Meanwhile, there’s a freeze on transactions. Although teams may discuss trades, club employees are prohibited from all contact with major league players. That includes trainers who were assisting injured players with their rehab. Players are barred from team facilities. The major league portion of the winter meetings next week in Orlando, Fla., is canceled. Team officials aren’t allowed to comment on players to the media. hastily removed all stories and photos of players on 40-man rosters.


With little else to talk about, get ready for as much chatter as you can stand about “competitive integrity” and “service time” and “revenue sharing” and “expanded playoffs,” among other topics.

Here’s what you need to know about MLB’s labor turmoil.

What do the players want?

A bigger bite at the apple. The average major league salary has dropped 6.4% since 2017, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, MLB has seen record revenues, topping out at $10.7 billion in 2019. The players want to level the playing field.


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