During a wide-ranging press conference, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced among other things that the owners have agreed to a Draft Lottery and a Universal DH in both leagues.
The schedule for Major League Baseball spring training remains unchanged at this point despite the ongoing owner-imposed lockout, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced Thursday at a press conference. The press conference came after the conclusion of the owners’ meetings in Florida and less than a week before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp. “The status of spring training is no change right now,” Manfred said.
The first spring games are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26. Even if the two sides reach a deal in the coming days, everyone would have to get to spring training and go through COVID intake testing before workouts can begin. Though Manfred said there is no change to the spring training schedule, they are really pushing up against a soft deadline here.
There has been little movement from the players association as the MLBPA seems to be more united than ever according to tweets from players who attended a meeting earlier this week. Manfred addressed the fact that the two sides are far apart by saying “You’re always one breakthrough away from making an agreement.” It would be “disastrous” to miss regular-season games due to the lockout, Manfred added,
The MLBPA is seeking more money for players early in their careers through a higher minimum salary and earlier arbitration eligibility. The players union also wants to raise the luxury-tax threshold significantly. The owners want to make further economic gains (i.e. redirect more money away from the players and into their pockets) after succeeding at exactly the last few collective bargaining agreements.
The collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1 and the owners locked out the players immediately. At 71 days (and counting), this is the second-longest work stoppage in MLB history, behind only the 1994-95 players’ strike (232 days).
The big news that came out of the press conference was the fact the MLB owners have agreed to a universal DH in both the AL and the NL. Gone are the days of having pitchers bat.
From a Nationals perspective, the change in the DH rule could be a welcomed addition to the NL. The Nationals now have another reason to sign Juan Soto to a long-term deal, as Soto could be moved to the DH position later in his career and still be an effective member of the team.
Additionally, there was some other news from the press conference:
- Draft Pick Compensation: In addition to the news of the owners agreeing to a universal DH, the other big news that came out of the press conference is the elimination of draft pick compensation for signing free agents who decline a qualifying offer. This is a huge deal and will have a big impact on how teams approach signing free agents and who will receive a qualifying offer.
- Expanded Playoffs: Manfred mentioned that the league would “like to expand the playoff” format. According to reports, MLB owners want a 14-team playoff while the players want to just have 12 teams, as there is a fear that by adding teams to the playoffs, there will be less emphasis on the 162-game regular season and too much emphasis on small-sample playoff games.
- Revenue Sharing: Another point of conflict between the players and the league is how the league should deal with revenue sharing. During the press conference Manfred seemed pretty firm on the owners persepctive. Manfred’s stance is that without revenue sharing the playing field isn’t fair to small market teams, and without revnue sharing this could be a “pay cut” for these teams. However, the players side it wouldn’t be an issue with the sharing if the team receiving the revenue sharing would actually use it on payroll in an effort to be more competitive.
- Draft Lottery: In effort to address and stop “tanking,” Major league baseball owners have agreed to a draft lottery for new talent.