In a press conference today in Chicago, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred signaled Thursday that owners likely will lock out players if the current contract expires Dec. 1 without a new agreement.
“We’ve been down this path. We locked out in ’89-’90,” Manfred said. “I don’t think ’94 worked out too great for anybody. I think when you look at other sports, the pattern has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of actual disruption of the season. That’s what it’s about. It’s avoiding doing damage to the season.”
Talks between Players and the owners have been going on since spring but have lacked any real momentum to get a deal struck before the December 1st, deadline. Recently, it was reported by Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal in the Athletic, that MLB’s player’s union made a second proposal to MLB owners in an effort to have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place before the expiration of the current agreement on December 1. In the article, Drellich and Rosenthal report that the offer was made on October 29, 2021, during the World Series. Some points that were discussed in this proposal were issues such as the Competitive Balance Tax, Free Agency, “Tanking” and Arbitration.
During today’s press conference in Chicago Manfred stated that “We remain committed, No. 1 priority, to make an agreement prior to December 1,” said Manfred. It is interesting to note that Manfred was the league’s chief negotiator before becoming commissioner in 2015 so he is familiar with these types of negotiations. Manfred further stated that “We understand, I understand that time is becoming an issue. That’s a challenge. We’ve had challenges with respect to making labor agreements before, and we’ve got a pretty good track record of overcoming those challenges.”
Manfred was not surprised that several free agents have reached agreements since the World Series, even though CBA rules for next season are uncertain.
“We’re pretty good about following the law,” he said. “The law is you should continue to operate as normal even during the negotiating period in free agency. And that means clubs making individual decisions as to what’s best for them. So that’s what they’re doing.”
“Honestly, I can’t believe there’s a single fan in the world who doesn’t understand that an offseason lockout that moves the process forward is different than a labor dispute that costs games,” Manfred said.